THE menstrual CYCLE 101

When I was 12 years old Aunt Flo came to town for the first time. I remember when it happened to my best friend and how strange the whole thing was from the outside, “you bleed from where?!” I remember asking her in disbelief. Then a mere 3 or 4 months later it was happening to me. I told my mom, she bought me some pads and I went on my merry way. For years following all I knew about my female cycle was that I could get pregnant and once a month I would bleed. What happened within that month was a vague enigma. This has led to so many myths and misunderstandings for all of my teens and half of my twenties. I want to break that NOW. Every woman has the right to understand her cycle and so here it is. ENJOY :)  

phase 1: the follicular phase


The first half of your cycle is known as the follicular phase. Beginning on day one of your cycle as your first day of bleeding. Your ovaries are shedding their lining on these days and you are cleansing and preparing for the next cycle. After your period, your body then begins to prepare for your ovulation. Many small follicles race to ovulation hoping they will be the one that gets to be your egg that particular month. This is why it is called the follicular phase. Your follicles begin to develop three months prior but this month is their final stage and they are psyched to graduate. During this 2 to 3 week period, you will have a surge of yang estrogen hormones making you feel productive, sharp and generally kicking ass. This is a time of great production for you, you are ready and willing to take on the world. On the days leading up to ovulation your discharge will begin to change in color and thicken in texture, much like egg whites, letting you know you are fertile. The few days leading up to ovulation the thicker cervical mucus is a welcoming environment for sperm to hang out and wait in the fallopian tube for ovulation day to make their mark. You are fertile 5 days leading up to ovulation. Then comes ovulation day. In a healthy cycle you will ovulate a strong, high quality egg that shines as brightly as the full moon on a cloudless night. Your egg is still receptive to sperm two days after ovulation. In total you are fertile 5 days leading up to ovulation and two days after ovulation, 7 days total. 

phase 2: the luteal phase


After ovulation, if the egg isn't fertilized, it will leave behind the Corpus Luteum which is your reward for a job well done as it produces progesterone, your yin hormone. Progesterone is truly a gift from your life, like chocolate and cute boys who can sing. Progesterone is the hormone that soothes you, softens your rough edges and makes you beautiful with a radiant glow. This yin phase is a period of reflection, introspection and relaxation. You want to cuddle with your puppy, watch rom-coms with your bestie and slow dance with your Boyfriend. Soon progesterone declines and this triggers the shedding of your ovary lining. Your period begins and your next cycle starts over.

Celebrate the yin and yang


The female cycle has often been misunderstood in our society. The period is something to “plug up”, numb out or sweep under the rug of our existence.  As a result we are misrepresented as emotional basket cases unreliable in our opinions. In actuality our female cycle perfectly encompasses the polarities found in nature, light and dark, night and day, winter and spring, yin and yang. Instead of trying to deny these aspects of ourselves, I challenge you to embrace them, to observe them and to flow with them. Much like the surfer who rides the waves, we can also learn to appreciate the surging currents of our femininity.