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Menstrual Cycle Phases

11 Feb 2019

Understanding your period and its different phases can be extremely helpful for understanding changes in your general health and reproductive health. In fact, many fertility specialists will ask patients to do this to help diagnose a problem and determine the right infertility treatments for women having trouble getting pregnant.

The Los Angeles, CA team at Pacific Fertility Center would like to cover the different phases of the menstrual cycle below. Keep in mind that the lengths are just an average range. Your cycle may differ in terms of timeframes, which is not necessarily an indication of a fertility problem.

The Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)

The first part of your cycle is when you get your period. If an egg is unfertilized, certain hormone levels in your body will decrease. During this time, the tissue lining the inside of the uterus that was intended to support a fertilized egg will no longer be needed and is shed from the body. This can last for up to a week for some women.

During the menstrual phase, you may experience the following symptoms in addition to the normal flow:

  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Sensitive breasts
  • Headaches
  • Exhaustion
  • Low back pain
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

The Follicular Phase (Days 1-13)

The follicular phase happens concurrently with the menstrual phase. Your pituitary gland triggers your body to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH causes follicles within the ovaries to develop, promoting the development of viable eggs in the process. Once the follicle is mature, additional hormone are released that cause the formation of a soft tissue lining within the uterus. This lining will help support a fertilized egg for a successful pregnancy; it forms once the lining from the previous cycle has been shed.

The Ovulation Phase (Day 14)

During the follicular phase, your levels of estrogen will increase. This causes the release of luteinizing hormone (LH), which begins the process of ovulation. When you ovulate, you release a mature egg from the ovaries. The egg waits in the Fallopian tube to be fertilized.

The egg will remain viable for roughly 24 hours. If the egg is not fertilized, it will dissolve.

The Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)

The release of an egg leads to the release of various hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. These hormones released during ovulation help keep the uterine lining ready to support a fertilized egg.

If an egg is fertilized, it travels to the uterus where it will implant along the lining. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) will be released to continue sustaining the uterine lining.

If an egg is not fertilized during your cycle, the whole process begins again.

When Am I Most Fertile?

You are most fertile during ovulation, which is mid-cycle for most women. The egg is ready and waiting in the fallopian tube for fertilization.

If you’re trying to time intercourse for the best chances of pregnancy, try to have sex two or three days before ovulation. This sort of timing will increase the chances of getting pregnant since a man’s sperm can survive in a woman’s body for up to five days.

Track Your Cycle to Help with Fertility

Given how important timing is for pregnancy and how telling these timeframes can be in general, we encourage you to track your own cycle regularly. This information can help identify hormone imbalances linked to general health issues, and can aid a fertility specialist when helping you start a family.

Learn More About Treating Infertility

For more information about treating infertility and helping you start a family of your own, be sure to contact our team of fertility specialists and doctors. The team at Pacific Fertility Center is here to help. You can reach our office in Los Angeles at (310) 853-8320, and our office in Glendale at (818) 952-0328.

Note: This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided is for general educational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. Speak to your doctor directly with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any information contained herein does not replace any care plan as determined by a physician. 

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