Blog Post Menstrual Cycle2

Welcome to Flow by Accalia. Here you will find regular blogs that we hope you will find informative, fun, interesting and helpful. 

To kick us off, we thought we should cover the topic that brings us all to Accalia… menstruation, periods or the monthly cycle. As normal as it is, at some point we who bleed all have questions such as... Is my cycle normal? Do I have a heavy period? Are these clots normal? Is my PMS out of control? And so many more. 

So, we’re going to delve into the wonderful world of menstruation and hopefully, you will learn something new and perhaps answer some of those questions.

The Menstrual Cycle

A menstrual cycle is not only inclusive of the time that we bleed, it’s a four-stage cycle that our bodies go through from one bleed to the next. A normal menstrual cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days with the average being 28 days or four weeks. 

Only 10-15% of people have a 28-day cycle, so don’t worry if yours is not bang on 28 days.

It is great to know about each of the four phases your body goes through, when you are in them and how the rise and fall of your hormone levels may be impacting your energy, mood and other aspects of your life.

Please note that hormonal contraceptives can (and are designed to) affect your menstrual cycle. Other elements that could affect your cycle are age/diet/ weight/ exercise and so forth. If you are worried about your menstrual cycle, please seek help from a registered health care provider.

Menstrual Cycle 01

Menstrual Phase - Days 1 - 5

Blog Illuastrations 02 Mood/ Energy Level: Fatigued   
Blog Illuastrations 03 Cervical Mucus: Menstrual Fluid 
Blog Illuastrations 01 Sex Drive: Moderate to High

Our menstrual cycle begins with the start of a new menstruation phase (the part where you bleed from your va-jay-jay). Typically menstruation will last between 3 and 7 days. Throughout this time, our bodies shed the uterine lining through the vagina. Menstrual loss amount varies from one person to the next, between 5ml and 80ml is considered a “normal” cycle, with the average loss being about 35 ml of menstrual fluid per cycle. 

Don’t be shocked if your bestie has a 3-day cycle of light spotting when you have a 6 day heavier cycle… “normal” menstruation varies dramatically between each of us!

During the menstrual phase, it is normal to feel tiredness, bloating and cramping that can be painful. All too often, people think they are best to just put their feet up, watch a movie and eat chocolate to combat the cramps and decreased mood that comes with menstruation. Reality is, this won’t actually help. It may help to get extra rest and if you need to, there is nothing wrong with taking a dose of light pain relief (paracetamol or ibuprofen).

Blog Post MenstrualCycle1

Another great way to tackle the “downside” of menstruation is light exercise! 

Because our hormone levels are low throughout this phase, we need to tap into other avenues to boost our moods and assist with the cramps. Light exercise has been proven to enhance your mood and decrease the pain experienced through menstruation. Go for a walk, do some light yoga or some light weights and reap the benefits next time your period comes knocking!

If you’re worried that your menstrual phase is abnormal, too painful or your period is too heavy, don't be afraid to speak to your health care provider. The Royal Women’s Hospital advises that a period is considered heavy if you are:

  • passing lumps of blood (or clots) that are larger than a 50 cent coin
  • bleeding so much that you have to change your pad/ tampon every hour having to get up most nights to change your pad/tampon
  • having to put a towel in your bed or use large maternity pads when you sleep
  • bleeding through clothing
  • Experiencing bleeding that lasts more than eight days.

Follicular Phase - Days 1 - 14

Blog Illuastrations 02 Mood/ Energy Level: Moderate to High
Blog Illuastrations 03

Cervical Mucus: Day 5-9: little to none, Day 9-13: sticky and thick at the start, eventually getting slippery and more like egg whites.

Blog Illuastrations 01 Sex Drive: Increasing throughout this phase

The follicular phase overlaps with your menstruation phase and will last approximately 14 days. Throughout this phase, your body is replenishing and thickening the uterine lining to support a potentially fertilised egg. 

Your estrogen and testosterone levels will slowly rise through this phase, and these rising levels throughout the follicular phase are usually associated with feeling great both emotionally and physically, many people report feeling their best throughout the follicular phase.

Ovulatory Phase - Days 12 - 16

Blog Illuastrations 02 Mood/ Energy Level: High and Stable
Blog Illuastrations 03 Cervical Mucus: Increased amounts of slippery and viscous clear fluid
Blog Illuastrations 01 Sex Drive: High

Feeling like a superhero? Got a bunch of energy to burn? If you’re about mid-cycle then there is a good chance you have hit the ovulation phase. Ovulation typically happens mid-cycle around day 14. In the lead-up to ovulation your hormone levels are increasing, meaning you will feel more energetic, stronger and more mentally stable throughout this period. Throughout ovulation, you may also experience some not so great ovulation symptoms such as light spotting of blood, acne and breast tenderness.

It is in this phase that your body will release an egg and funnel it into the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. The egg will last approximately 24 hours before it dies if it is not fertilised by a sperm. Research suggests that, while eggs are only viable for one day, sperm is viable for up to 3 days, meaning that if you are trying to get pregnant, sex in the days prior to the release of the egg is as important as it is on the day. 

Luteal Phase - Days 14 - 28

Blog Illuastrations 02

Mood/ Energy Level: Low

Blog Illuastrations 03

Cervical Mucus: Thick and sticky

Blog Illuastrations 01 Sex Drive: Low

Throughout the luteal phase your progesterone and estrogen levels rise in preparation for a potentially fertilised egg, if the egg is not fertilised your hormone levels will start decreasing approximately a week before your next period is due. Cue premenstrual stress (PMS) time!!!

Premenstrual stress can bring on a whole range of both physical and emotional symptoms. From weight gain, acne, food cravings and headaches to anxiety, depression and mood swings, PMS really can be a miserable time for many. There is no cure for PMS, however, there are things that can help. 

Through this time, remind yourself, you’re not going crazy, it’s probably your hormones playing havoc!

Studies suggest that exercise, lighter meals, adequate sleep and stress reduction are great for helping with PMS symptoms. While the endorphins from exercise can help with your mood, eating smaller, more frequent meals and limiting salt can help to reduce bloating and fluid retention. If your PMS symptoms are too much to manage or your mood swings are really extreme, perhaps it is worth taking a trip to your GP to discuss your symptoms.

Whether your cycle is longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, more moody or not, remember, a “normal cycle” varies greatly from person to person and can adjust with age, exercise level, weight gain/ loss, child birth, breast feeding and so much more. We hope this information will help you to get to know your cycle better and perhaps answer some of those questions that pop up throughout the month. 

Blog Post MenstrualCycle2

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