Unravel the Stages of Your Cycle
This is an unedited transcript.
Hi. Welcome to MomDaze, a beautiful collective of mamas and experts, sharing wisdom, inspiration and life hacks to support us on this journey through the hazy days of motherhood. Welcome back to the Mondays podcast. I’m your host, Holly Lowe. And we are continuing on with our series all about understanding fertility, your reproductive cycles, and all the stuff that goes along with that.
Now, I have to say, this is something that, at first, I was kind of embarrassed to tell people that I had no idea what was involved in cycle, you know, stages and the phases of it, and just the ins and outs of each part of my monthly cycle. And it was something that I thought everybody understood. So I kind of felt like I was the one who, you know, didn’t know what I was doing. I was the one who nobody taught this to, you know, in a thorough manner. But I started to realize that the majority of women I knew, didn’t know it either. And it was sort of a relief in one sense, because I realized, okay, this isn’t so odd. That we, you know, we weren’t taught this. And it’s also something that I realized we need to know. So it put me on, you know, sort of a track of, I want to learn more about this, I want to understand it better. Now, the beauty of being a doula at the time, this was, you know, probably about 1015 years ago, I was able to ask questions of midwives, when I was working with them, I got to pick their brain a little bit. And lots of just holistic health practitioners who had a really good understanding of, you know, moon phases, and you know, your cycle phases, and what’s natural and common, what’s normal. And again, everybody has their own differences to their cycle, their own little unique way that their cycle functions and your body functions. But we all have very similar, you know, routine store cycle, that’s just the way our women’s body are made. So let’s talk about those normal processes. And then, you know, if you have questions about the stuff that’s not so normal, feel free to message and email and whatnot. And we can always connect you to some amazing, you know, experts that we work with, or I can try to answer some of those questions from information I’ve learned and gleaned over the years of asking. And just, like I said, working with people who have a really good grip on this, I don’t claim to be an expert in this area at all. I am a mom and a woman who in it wasn’t till I was 40. This is the part where I was like, I’m kind of ashamed to admit this. But I was 40. Before I had a good grip on like a thorough understanding. Now I had an idea before that. I knew there was a follicular phase, I knew there was a luteal phase, I knew these terms, I didn’t know what they were for in our body, what they functioned as I didn’t even understand like the length of them. So it wasn’t until I remember clearly, finally sitting down with an incredible Naturopath from the US, somebody I had met through my work with doTERRA. And I just said, Okay, can you like, I’m just going to lay it all out there. I don’t understand this. And I feel like it’s crazy. I’ve had three babies. And, you know, I’ve worked with countless pregnant women and serve them in their birth and their new babies. I don’t understand it, well helped me understand this. And I’m really grateful for the time that I got to spend with other people who just, again reassured me that that’s completely common and normal that many women don’t understand it. But also that it’s easy. It’s easy to learn, it’s doesn’t take a lot to understand it. I mean, you can Google this stuff, too. But it really does help to have someone walk you through it and explain it. So that’s what we’re going to do today. I’m just gonna break it down. Really basic, I’m not gonna get too sciency on it. I just want you to understand, what are the phases of my cycle? The reason it’s called a cycle is exactly that, because it has cycles through different phases. And then how can you make the most of these cycles? Whether it’s your energy, your work planning, you’re trying to conceive or not conceive planning? How does this all work together with our cycle? So let’s dive into this. Alright, so if we take our cycles as day one being the first day of your period, this is where we need to start where it makes sense. So day one, when you’re counting how many days are in your cycle, day one would be the first day of bleeding and You know, sometimes it starts with spottings. Sometimes it’s, it’s very heavy for some women, but whatever you count as your period has arrived, that is day one of your cycle. And most of us understand that part. Most of us understand that. And a lot of our girls don’t, though. And it’s important that you feel confident in explaining this so that the next generations don’t struggle with these things the way we have. But ministration is simply just the lining, and you’re going to hear as we go through what that lining was there for. But that lining in our uterus is pulling away, and it’s being flushed out of our body. It’s one of the reasons. Personally, I prefer not to use things that hold that in my body things like, you know, cups, or tampons or anything that would stop it from being able to leave my body. That’s a personal opinion, that’s just my own choice, I just feel like our body is flushing it out on purpose. So make sure you’re making it, you know, a cleaning out process, make sure you’re not stopping that process in some way. But that’s what that is, it’s the lining in the uterus that was built up preparing for pregnancy at the end of your cycle that we’re gonna hear about. And that has to be stripped away for a fresh start. So that’s what day one is. So you count day one as the first day of your period, and you count through that. Now, the follicular phase, this is from that day one, to about day 1415. Now, again, this is where things vary, your cycles will vary. But this is your follicular phase. And the reason things shift in this phase, this is during your your period, and then the week after typically. So it’s like the first two weeks is the follicular phase. But that includes your period phase as well. your pituitary gland is releasing follicular stimulating hormone that’s that FSH. And this is an important thing to know. Because that’s what stimulating your ovaries, it’s going to produce around five to 20 follicles, each follicle is going to house an immature egg. So this was good to know, especially as I got into trying to conceive or, you know, secondary infertility issues, I was like, I don’t even actually understand what could be happening or could be wrong or could be abnormal. So I needed to know this. What also happens is your pituitary gland stimulates the lining of the uterus to start thickening. So this is why it has to shed eventually. So then this whole felucca phase from day one to 1415 ish, somewhere, those first two weeks, there’s a lot going on. And you’ll notice this in your body energy wise, usually the week of your period, your you know, I for most people, that’s when you’re kind of like you want some comfort food and you’re kind of taking care of yourself, maybe a little more, you’re laying low a little bit, you don’t really feel like doing a whole lot. It’s not your Go Go Go phase, it’s not your high energy stage. So just honor that. And you can plan work projects accordingly. Plan, you know, your outings and events accordingly. Take that those three to four or five days, depending how long your cycle goes. But usually three to four days of your full period. And take those days to take care of you. It’s a really good time to just breathe, take it easy. nourish your body. And you know, do some nice, gentle stretching, you know, it’s not heavy workout days, it’s not taken on the big project days. It’s break days. So think of it that way. And then as you start to transition into that, you know, second part of the follicular phase, this is where the energy changes. This is where your energy is heightened, you’re leading up to the release of an egg to ovulation you are leading up to the shifting in hormones is happening with all that work the pituitary gland is doing and your you know, follicles are working and they’re working to produce an egg. That’s a type of energy and that is a good time to book you know, extra work projects or again, within reason we’re not stressing ourselves out in this stage either. But knowing that you’re going to have a little burst of energy, you’re going to have some extra hormones in there that are making everything feel good. You’re going to be more interested in sex at the time you’re there’s a lot of things that are changing that way. So plan plan for those things. If you’re gonna plan a getaway with your partner, that’s a good time to do it. If you are trying to conceive you’re going to book in some time right to be together. So make sure that you pay attention to that, that you know where those days are leading up to it. Now the next stage is ovulation. So now we’ve gone through period the into the follicular phase, we’re around day 14. There should be ovulation happening somewhere around there. And that’s when you’re releasing a mature egg your follicles have chosen an egg one of them gets released, typically only one and then that egg will kind of make its way through that part of your body through the you know everything that’s I’m not gonna get into all the The Anatomy of it, but they’re gonna make their way they egg is going to make its way towards the uterus. And this is where your pituitary gland gets to work again, because now it’s producing more luteinizing hormone. And this is how if you’re tracking. So if you’re tracking your cycle, which I recommend everybody find a way that works for them for tracking their cycle. I don’t rely on that in any way, cycle tracking and LH testing for your luteinizing hormone, it’s simply showing you that there’s increases in those hormones, but depending on their testing, and the time you test in the day, and all that it can vary and be a little bit confusing. So I recommend testing between noon and three o’clock every every day, from the day your period stops. So when you know you’re completely clear your periods over start testing then and don’t spend money or hurt the environment buying plastic ovulation kits, it’s not worth it, we use ones, I think it’s called premium, I get them on Amazon, they’re just little piece strips of the little tiny papers, and you just test take a picture of it loaded into their app, it’s so simple. There’s lots of options like that, right? You don’t want to spend a lot of money on it, that can be cheap. And it just simply tracks for you when there’s a bit of a grow spike, right. So it’ll show the increase of luteinizing hormone that up to Terry glands are making and it will start to go up. And then usually 24 hours before that egg is released, you’ll see the peak and it will register a peak in luteinizing hormone, you might sometimes see multiple peaks. So that’s where it gets a little a little weird. So that’s why you can’t just rely on that. You also need to rely on cervical fluid what what that feels like getting used to checking your cervical fluid, mucus seeing if it’s you know, thin and stretchy, is it? Is it thick and gooey? Is it milky, you have to check some of those things on a regular basis. And then also the position of your cervix is really good to know is that high? Is it that low? Can you touch it really easily. So get comfortable with these, these practices if you want to understand your cycle thoroughly. It’s not just for people trying to conceive right? This is really important if you aren’t don’t want to use hormonal contraceptive because of all the issues around that. This is a really honestly a simple way to avoid getting pregnant because there’s only three to five days at most, usually three day window where you can conceive. So that’s tiny. And if you know that window, you just avoid it. It’s really that simple. And when you have a good rhythm going with that cycle, and you understand it, it’s such a great way to use, you know,
a non contraceptive type way to avoid pregnancy, it’s really important to teach our girls this. And honestly boys because they’re not using other methods, right and many of them don’t. But if our girls understand that, this is just the week, you should be careful, right and be very careful. And these are probably the three days you should definitely not do anything you you don’t want to be doing or that you want to be doing that shouldn’t be put it that way. So remembering that there’s the shifts happening for a reason. And as that goes up, it’s it’s just really showing your body that, hey, we’re getting prepped for you know, maybe this egg to be fertilized to then be implanted in the interest and start growing a baby or in which case your HCG lead numbers start to go up and you can test for that or not. Right and then we start this whole cycle over again. Now, what happens in the two week wait, we call it that two week wait after ovulation. So there’s a luteal phase that’s going to come into play. And that’s as either if it’s not fertilized, you know, if it is for life doesn’t matter, but those hormones are gonna start to shift again. And either your body is starting to prep, needing a little bit more maybe progesterone, depending on your your age, to help that baby continue to grow or to continue to process to continue. But whatever’s happening in those two weeks, you’ve got a two week window of I don’t know what’s going on. And that’s anyone who’s gone through trying to conceive will understand the two week wait, we all know it, we all get it. It’s frustrating. It is nerve racking sometimes, and you do your best to just get on with life, right? But in those two weeks, you will feel a shift in energy. You in the week following that. So you’re into Week Three now of your cycle, you will start to feel a little bit of a drop, but you still have energy, you’re still taking on things that you want to accomplish, you know, you’re still feeling good. You can still be doing more, you know, more heavy workouts, if you’d like to run or you like to lift weights or whatever, you’re you’re good to keep doing that. And then you’ll notice in that last week, it shifts and that’s when things will start to drop a little bit more again, and you’re leading back up to day one of your cycle. So when you’re trying to figure out do I have a 28 day cycle? Do I have a 30 day cycle? Do I have a 29 day cycle? That’s how you figure it out. So you look at On day one, and then you walk your way through. When do I see that? You know, shift? When do I see the the sorry, was sort of like, when do I see those changes in the spike? When the LH happens? am I tracking this? Am I seeing it go up? When do I actually ovulate? Now, when does that start to drop again. And it’s always good to you can test again right after and you can do a few more tests after you see the spike, so you can see it drop back down. There’s no harm in doing that, either. So I just think overall, it gives you a really clear picture, if you do take some time to do this. And I usually recommend three months tracking it for a minimum of three months. I mean, I’ve been doing it for years. And I don’t do it all the time. I don’t do it every month, except if we are trying, then I will be very consistent about it. But I think it’s important. At the age that our girls have a cycle, I think it’s really important to teach them this. Now, do I think our 13 year olds need to be testing and finding out their cycle? No, they don’t necessarily. But you know, 1516, could they Yeah, why not show them how to show them how to use the strip’s show them what to do with it, show them how to write it down or to record it in the app. And after they get a clearer picture, then it gives you an opportunity and gives them an opportunity to have some control over. You know, they’re how they’re feeling. Emotions, hormones, again, energy levels and understanding it better under and then your family even has a better understanding if you’ve got teenagers in your house, right? That’s pretty important, too. It’s one of those things that I really do wish I had known sooner. I was lucky because I had and I still have extremely predictable cycle I’ve always from from day one, I’ve always had a very predictable, you know, very clear, I can set my clock by it kind of cycle. But when I was, you know, in my like you remember now, early 30s, I was probably about 3031. I went through an A a period of extreme stress and you know, work related things going on and all these things happening. And I lost my period, I lost my cycle for almost a year. And I had no idea why I didn’t understand how stress affects the body that back then. And I didn’t know what I was going to do. We were you know, we weren’t planning on having kids yet. But I had used that as a contraceptive device to to not get pregnant up to that point. And so it kind of scared me because I thought this is crazy. I don’t even know if I’m still ovulating. I don’t know what I can’t even figure this out. And if I hadn’t had a regular cycle, I wouldn’t have really paid attention to that something was wrong. So I was able to get help and figure it out. And honestly, with the work of some amazing Homeopathics at the time that I took and try it out. We ended up pregnant two months later, completely unsuspecting, that’s what was happening. I was just trying to get my cycle back. Well, it worked, worked really well. But if I didn’t have a regular cycle, I wouldn’t know if something was wrong. So this is where I think it’s important that we understand this. And we teach our girls this because if something goes off in their body, if they have, you know, cysts or fibroids going on, if they start to notice endometriosis type, or PCOS type symptoms, it’s very hard to know if you don’t know what your normal was, right? If we only know what our periods were like, we’re only going by that, then that’s leaving us a big gap with the rest of the cycle looked like maybe you have a very short luteal phase, maybe maybe, you know, it’s you only have a 20 day cycle. And that’s all and we need to figure out why. Maybe there’s a hormone imbalance, maybe there’s a diet change that needs to happen, that’s affecting inflammation in the body. So this is why I think you know, I’m a strong advocate for making sure we are educated on this ourselves. So we feel comfortable explaining it and teaching it to our kids, and then removing that mystery around the cycle. What it is that it’s not just about your period, it’s about everything else that’s happening in your body. And I mean, there’s age appropriate, like I always say age appropriate times to explain this and to teach this. But definitely once they’re heading into those years, where they’re going to start their period for the first time. This is a conversation you can have, and this is part of what you’re doing can be shared as well. You know, my kids have asked me what those test strips are for what do we use them for? What am I doing with them? And what do I track in the app? When I do they see me taking pictures of the test strips, putting it into my app, and I just explain it and it’s again, it’s a conversation that not everyone is comfortable with. I posed the question out to Facebook one day and just said how many of you were had your cycles clearly explained to you in a way that you felt comfortable then as a parent explaining them to your kids? And many of the responses said No, I never had it clearly explained to me. I learned it from friends, or I learned it after I was married. I learned that when we had fertility issues and I had to learn it. But beyond that I didn’t or I’m very uncomfortable talking about these things with my kids. Or my kids are very uncomfortable discussing The US. And that’s that honestly comes from us, it’s, it’s not so much just our kids, it’s, they’re picking that up. And they’re learning that from us as well. So making it normal, and taking away that mystery a little bit of, you know, just that time of the month. And there’s so much more to that there’s so much more that’s beautiful about it. And it’s important to understand that can remove some of the stigma around, you know, pain and uncomfortable periods. And, you know, hormone shifts, and, you know, all kinds of things that our kids are dealing with as teens, that if we understood it better, we can help them understand it better, and then better, take care of their bodies and show them how. So that’s I think that’s the whole purpose of why we’re talking this today is, I want to make sure that we all have an understanding of just the basics. And you know, that we can take this in and share it. So whether it’s with your kids, or whether it’s with friends, or you know, other people in your life that you know, are struggling with parts of their cycle, or trying to conceive or can’t use birth control, or whatever it looks like, this information is important. And just having a basic understanding of your cycle is the starting point. Beyond that it’s getting comfortable with these conversations, being able to talk about it. And again, just removing the stigmas and the you know, the I don’t know what what the right word is maybe the the to che subject of you know, talk about this, we have to we have to move this into the next century and say, Okay, this is a normal conversation about our health, our bodies for women, especially. But men need to understand this as well. So that there’s a respect and an understanding for what we’re going through throughout the month, why there’s shifts in our moods, and our hormones and our energy, our interest, all kinds of things, that it’s not just about PMS and a period, right? Because I feel like that’s all it’s ever been broken down to. And that’s all we were ever taught in school was, you have a period. Here’s what male anatomy looks like, here’s a female anatomy looks like this is how babies made. That was the extent of it. And it was so basic, and it was so rushed over in phys ed health class, that I just feel like we’ve done such a disservice. And now we’ve kind of gone to the flip other side where we’ve convoluted it with so much other information. That’s really, I mean, sure, it may be it’s important somewhere in there. But we’re still missing the mark. We’re still missing the basics. And a clear understanding this is really important to be teaching this. So you know, if you’re teaching these in high school, then let’s talk because we need a better way to do this, we need a more thorough and, you know, natural understanding of how the body works, and a way to teach that to our kids. But really, it’s on us. It’s a parent’s job to explain this. It’s not the school’s job to educate them on this, we need to take that job over and just give them a good solid, positive view of how their cycle works, why it works that way. And honestly the gift that it is, so stick with us because we’re going to be talking lots more about fertility and all the good tips and tricks that we have for optimizing that before we move into talking about pregnancy. So we’ll talk soon see you on the next episode.
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