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The 4 seasons of your menstrual cycle

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, 3 min read

The 4 seasons of your menstrual cycle

Just like the cycle of seasons, each month your hormones ebb and flow. Learning to understand your inner cycle can help you care for your body and mind.

There are 4 phases in the menstrual cycle. If you think of each 28-day cycle as representing a year, each phase corresponds to a season: winter, summer, spring or autumn.

Phase 1 – your period: your inner winter

When: Days 1 to 5

Your hormones

Progesterone plunges, resulting in the break down and shedding of your womb’s lining – hello, period. Both oestrogen and progesterone are low.

Your body

As well as bleeding, you may be dealing with cramps. Your breasts might deflate – they’re at their smallest towards the end of your period.

Your mood

You may feel a sense of relief when your period starts. But your energy is at its lowest ebb and you may feel introverted and introspective.

Phase 2 – The follicular phase: your inner spring

When: Days 6 to 11

Your hormones

Levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) increase slightly, causing egg-containing follicles to develop. Oestrogen begins to increase but progesterone remains low.

Your body

As your body prepares for ovulation, your cervical fluid becomes wetter. Your breasts may start to enlarge. Your skin will clear.

Your mood

The rise in oestrogen starts to lift your energy, mood and brain skills. You feel more confident, powerful and willing to take risks.

Phase 3 – The ovulatory phase: your inner summer

When: Days 12 to 14

Your hormones

At the end of the follicular phase there’s an oestrogen surge, followed by a sharp peak in luteinising hormone (LH), which causes a follicle to burst open and release its egg – ovulation. Progesterone remains low.

Your body

You’re at your most fertile, so your cervical fluid is clear/white and stretchy. You may feel ovulation as a pain on one side of your abdomen. Your breasts are at their most perky and your skin glows – basically, your body is ready to make a baby.

Your mood

The oestrogen surge boosts all the positive effects you enjoyed during the last phase. You look and feel your most attractive and confident.

Phase 4 – The luteal phase: your inner autumn

When: Days 15 to 28

Your hormones:

The follicle that released the egg produces progesterone, causing it to rise and thicken your womb lining. If you’re not pregnant, oestrogen and progesterone will drop and the womb lining will shed, so your period – your inner winter – comes around again.

Your body

Your cervical fluid will start to become sticky. Your breasts might be tender and slightly swollen. If you’re prone to break outs, now’s the time those spots will appear.

Your mood

As progesterone increases you might find your energy winding down. In the second week of the luteal phase you may feel PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) symptoms: mood swings, anxiety or irritability and cravings for comfort food.

Tracking your symptoms is a great way to start recognising monthly patterns in your body and mind – that way, you know what to expect and can take care your yourself at each phase.

Please note, the days given here for each phase are based on a 28-day cycle and will vary from woman to woman and month to month.

Use our period tracker to get to know your cycle better.

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The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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