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PERIOD PRIDE Part II: Follicular Fun Phase

In our last post, we discussed all the benefits of periods in general. Now Naturopathic Doctor Joanna Rosenfeld is going to explain what’s happening in our bodies for the first 1/2 of our cycle…

PERIOD PRIDE Part II: Follicular Fun Phase
In our last post, we discussed all the benefits of periods in general. Now Naturopathic Doctor Joanna Rosenfeld is going to explain what’s happening in our bodies for the first 1/2 of our cycle… 

What’s Happening:
The next stage of your menstrual cycle is your follicular phase, which actually starts at day 1 of your period. At the beginning of the follicular phase, your brain releases a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), which stimulates your ovaries to produce about 5-20 follicles. 

As these follicles grow, eventually one becomes dominant, and the others will wither away and become reabsorbed by the body. The dominant follicle with the ripening egg increases production of estrogen, which causes the uterine lining to grow and thicken over the next 2 weeks. This rise in estrogen will cause a spike in another hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH), which triggers the rupture of the dominant follicle – i.e. ovulation! 

A typical follicular phase lasts about 2 weeks, but there is a lot of variety in timing. If your menstrual cycle is a little bit shorter, or on the longer side, it is your follicular phase that is responsible.

How you might feel:
Generally people feel good during this time of their cycle. Estrogen helps to increase serotonin levels (those feel-good neurotransmitters), so as estrogen levels increase, mood tends to be more positive. It is also a time you may feel more productive at work, and more creative. Physically, you may notice that your skin is glowing, and you may start to notice an increase in libido. Let’s hear it for the follicular phase!

Signs of Hormonal Imbalance:
As mentioned above, the length of your follicular phase is most often what determines the length of your cycle. 

A longer follicular cycle (> 21 days) can signal lower estrogen levels, as the follicle doesn’t release enough estrogen to stimulate LH, causing delayed ovulation. A longer follicular phase is also associated with Vitamin D deficiency, recent use of birth control pills, and marijuana use. Delayed time to ovulation can also be associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). 

A short follicular phase is common during perimenopause. FSH levels rise, but LH doesn’t increase, causing a follicle to rupture too quickly. If getting pregnant is something you’re thinking about, a short follicular phase can impact your chances because the egg has not had enough time to mature. A follicular phase shorter than 11 days is associated with decreased fertility

(Photo by Tuan Nguy N Minh)