Understanding your cycle to get pregnant

The rise and fall of your hormones trigger the steps in your menstrual cycle. Your hormones cause the organs of your reproductive tract to respond in certain ways. The specific events that occur during your menstrual cycle consist of four consecutive phases. The length of each phase can differ from female to female and can change over time. These also help identify any abnormalities within the reproductive system.

Menstruation: (Day 1-7)

The first phase is menstruation. This is when we are bleeding and usually lasts between 3-7 days. During this phase the hypothalamus is producing gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) which tells the pituitary gland to make follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which tells the ovaries to mature follicles. Follicles are what may become mature eggs, a pre-egg if you will. These developing follicles also signal oestrogen to be produced. The first phase is a bit like winter, you may want to stay indoors and rest. You may want to spend the day in bed. It’s a good time to have a day to yourself getting cosy with a hot water bottle. On average, females are in the menstrual phase of their cycle for 3 to 7 days. Some females experience longer periods than others.

You may have period symptoms like these:

  • cramps 
  • tender breasts
  • bloating
  • mood swings
  • irritability
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • lower back pain

Nutrients your body needs during this phase:

  • Cinnamon, ginger honey.
  • Iron: liver, beetroot, spinach, mushrooms
  • Omega 3: seafood

The Follicular phase: (day 8-14 ish)

 This phase typically takes place from days 8 to 14. During this time, the level of the hormone estrogen rises, which causes the lining of your uterus (the endometrium) to grow and thicken. In addition, another hormone —follicle-stimulating hormone- (FSH)— causes follicles in your ovaries to grow. During days 10 to 14, one of the developing follicles will form a fully mature egg (ovum). The average follicular phase lasts for about 16 days. It can differ depending on your cycle.

You may experience symptoms of:

• increased energy levels 

•increased in body temperature 

• mood changes 

Nutrients your body needs during this phase:

  • Estrogen support: Broccoli, carrots, parsley
  • Vitamin E: Sweet potato, leafy greens

Ovulation: (day 15-21ish)

Rising estrogen levels during the follicular phase trigger your pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH). This is what starts the process of ovulation. Ovulation is when your ovary releases a mature egg. The egg travels down the Fallopian tube toward the uterus to be fertilized by sperm. The ovulation phase is the only time during your menstrual cycle when you can get pregnant. 

You can tell that you’re ovulating by symptoms like these:

  • a slight rise in basal body temperature
  • thicker discharge that has the texture of egg whites

Nutrients your body needs during this phase:

  • Sulphur: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage
  • Magnesium: Spinach, dark chocolate and raw cocoa.

Luteal phase (day 22-28ish)

After the follicle releases its egg, it changes into the corpus luteum. This structure releases hormones, mainly progesterone and some estrogen. The rise in hormones keeps your uterine lining thick and ready for a fertilized egg to implant.

If you do get pregnant, your body will produce human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is the hormone pregnancy tests detect. It helps maintain the corpus luteum and keeps the uterine lining thick.

If you don’t get pregnant, the corpus luteum will shrink away and be reabsorbed. This leads to decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which causes the onset of your period. The uterine lining will shed during your period.

You may experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These include:

  • bloating
  • breast swelling, pain, or tenderness
  • mood changes
  • headache
  • weight gain
  • changes in sexual desire
  • food cravings
  • trouble sleeping

Nutrients your body needs during this phase:

  • Ground soup, root veggies
  • Vitamin C: Cauliflower, green beans.

Every female’s menstrual cycle is different. Some females get their period at the same time each month. Others are more irregular. Some females bleed more heavily or for a longer number of days than others.

Your menstrual cycle can also change during certain times of your life.

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