Phase Ed: What Phys Ed Didn't Tell You About The Menstrual Cycle
Updated: Feb 16, 2022
Most people learn some basic facts about female reproduction in school; general terms about anatomy, the fact that females have the ability to give birth, and that may uterus-owners tend to menstruate for a large portion of their lives.
You might be aware that those with female organs tend to begin menstruating between the ages of 10 and 15. "Periods" generally last 2 to 7 days, and this occurs every 21-25 days, or generally once per month. This cycle repeats unless the person begins certain types of birth control, becomes pregnant, or begins menopause sometime around age 50.
But we are not usually taught about hormonal fluctuations, the impact of hormones on our physical and mental health, changes in fertility throughout the cycle, and about various menstrual disorders - some of which are very common.
Most reproductive education in schools focuses on just one phase of the menstrual cycle - the menstrual phase itself, which we commonly call the "period".
There are actually 4 phases of the menstrual cycle. The graph below shows two of them at the top; the follicular phase (when follicles, or egg sacs, are being developed) and the luteal phase (when the egg is released and the follicle becomes the corpus luteum). The other two phases, the menstrual phase and ovulatory phase, overlap the previously mentioned two. Menstruation generally occurs during days 1 to 7, while ovulation occurs around day 14.
Menstrual Chart by Isometrik - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8703107
A Look At Each Phase
You can find links to a post with a video outlining each phase of the menstrual cycle below. The posts also include PMDD symptoms in each phase, as well as tips for coping & self-care!
This is the time of the month marked by the shedding of the uterine lining. Cramping, cravings, and mood swings may occur. This is a good time to rest and recover.
This is when most PMDD Warriors are feeling fairly good, with very few symptoms. This is a good time to plan ahead, shop for groceries, and prepare meals.