From spotting to heavy bleeding, knowing and understanding your cycle can feel like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. So, here’s some much needed clarity…
Whether you menstruate like clockwork or a little irregularly, how heavy your period flow is and how long your period lasts for is unique to you. Still, there are enough commonalities between people to answer a range of questions you might have about your menstrual cycle. And while periods are important, there is so much more to your menstrual cycle than just menstruation. Read on for the lowdown on everything from the luteal phase (the lu-what? don’t worry, we’ll get there) to when you’re least likely to fall pregnant.
Days 1 - 5
Day 1 marks the start of your period. It’s when your uterus releases a mixture of blood and nutrients out of your body. This menstrual fluid can vary in colour and texture.
Although you may feel like there’s a lot of blood, in reality you'll only lose between 10 to 80ml. A period usually lasts between two to five days but it could be up to 10.
The majority of blood loss occurs during the first two days and some people notice menstrual (abdominal) cramps, back and leg ache too. If you often have severe period pain, you may be experiencing dysmenorrhea.
Days 6 - 13
More oestrogen is produced at this stage and your ovaries prepare to release an ovum. Your body also prepares for a possible pregnancy so the uterine lining starts to develop. The follicular phase is the most unpredictable part of your menstrual cycle and the reason why your cycle can be longer or shorter than the stated 28 days you'll often hear about.
About halfway through your menstrual cycle, one of your ovaries releases an ovum, which journeys down your fallopian tube. This is where fertilisation would take place if the ovum were to come into contact with sperm.
Speaking of sperm, if you’d like to avoid falling pregnant or are trying to conceive, it’s good to know that sperm has a small window of around 48 hours to fertilise the ovum before it is absorbed back into the body. The six days leading up to ovulation and the two days after this event is when you’re most fertile. Since this is the fertile phase of your menstrual cycle, you could become pregnant if you are having penetrative vaginal sex and don’t use contraception.
Days 15 - 28: The final stage before your period starts again.
The luteal phase of your menstrual cycle lasts for 14 days while your body produces more oestrogen and progesterone, which causes the lining of your uterus to thicken with blood and nutrients.
If you're not pregnant, progesterone levels drop, which causes the lining to break-up and your cycle starts all over again... yay! If you have any further questions about your period flow, don't hesitate to get in touch!