Menstrual cycle phases are extremely dynamic and differ from woman to woman.
The symptoms your body expresses can be used to track where you are in your cycle, this is called cycle mapping.
It can be used to indicate if your body is exhibiting healthy symptoms or if you are experiencing symptoms that are indicative of a bigger health problem.
Cycle mapping is being embraced as a way for women to understand the flow of their hormones and the effect on their body to optimise work, workouts and become happier and healthier.
Therefore, mapping out your cycle is vital to women’s health and can help increase productivity.
A typical cycle lasts 29 days and cycle mapping can guide you through that entire time by breaking that time down into four stages.
Why do we need to talk about menstrual cycle mapping?
Periods still have an incredible stigma around them all over the world.
Many women are considered too emotional or weak, if they are experiencing painful symptoms, by all genders – something that desperately needs to change.
There is less talk about the extraordinary skills that women can possess at different stages throughout their cycle.
It’s essential that women know what these are and that they are taught from an early age how to fully utilise their increased capabilities in the different cycle stages.
It’s also imperative that women know when to rest and give their bodies the time it needs to heal both physically and mentally, in order to improve their overall health.
The idea that you need to ‘power through’ is out-dated and unsubstantiated, it needs to go.
The four stages
Generally, if you experience menstruation, a full phase will last 28-31 days. The first day of your phase is considered to be the one with full blood (i.e no spotting).
This is your actual period, where your uterine lining is being discarded. This is the week that is most commonly associated with being ‘on’ your period.
The follicular stage of your period happens during the ‘first phase’. It’s generally two weeks and lasts from the first day of your period to the beginning of ovulation.
The mid cycle point, when the egg is released from the ovaries. Your oestrogen levels peak at the beginning of this phase.
This is the phase that is occurring during the second half of your cycle. It lasts between ovulation and ends before the start of menstruation.
The hormone progesterone peaks during this phase.
*These phases can be broken down further but for a general understanding of menstruation, these are the four you should know.
How does your period affect your brain?
This graphic by Yoko Miyagawa/BBC, gives an interesting look at how you can expect to feel at different stages in your cycle.
It also depicts the time frame of each phase very clearly.
The mood and productivity changes experienced during menstruation can be attributed to the peaks and dips in progesterone and oestrogen.
However, these changes in hormones are an essential part of a healthy reproductive system.