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Understanding the Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

It's often misunderstood that the "menstrual cycle" solely pertains to the days of menstruation. In reality, it encompasses four phases, intricately orchestrating the female body's readiness for potential pregnancy.

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle is a complex series of events recurring monthly, aimed at preparing the female body for conception. Additionally, it facilitates the shedding of the uterine lining if pregnancy doesn't occur. This intricate process involves hormonal fluctuations, orchestrated by the brain, ovaries, and uterus. While the average duration of a menstrual cycle spans 28 to 30 days, individual variations are common.

calendar for period
Keeping track of your period will give you better insights about your health and symptoms


Menstruation, colloquially known as a period, involves the shedding of the uterine lining. Driven by hormonal cues, this process ensures the uterus is primed for potential implantation of a fertilized egg. Hormones prompt the thickening of the uterine lining, preparing it for pregnancy. If conception doesn't transpire, the lining breaks down, leading to menstrual bleeding.

The Menstrual Cycle

This term encapsulates the sequential events preparing the body for pregnancy each month. Commencing from the first day of menstruation until the onset of the subsequent period, every individual's cycle exhibits slight variations while adhering to the same fundamental process.

Cycle Length and Period Duration

While the average menstrual cycle spans 28 days, variations are entirely normal. Cycles can range from 21 to 35 days without indicating any abnormalities. Similarly, the duration of menstruation typically lasts between three to seven days, though individual experiences may differ.

By comprehending the nuances of your menstrual cycle, you gain invaluable insights into your reproductive health. Whether tracking for pregnancy planning, managing period symptoms, or monitoring overall well-being, understanding your cycle empowers you to navigate your health with confidence and clarity.

The menstrual cycle can indeed have various impacts on mood due to the fluctuations in hormone levels throughout the different phases. Here's a general overview of how mood can be influenced by the menstrual cycle:

  1. Menstrual Phase:

  • Some individuals may experience mood changes such as irritability, fatigue, or mood swings during menstruation. These symptoms are often referred to as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and can vary in severity from person to person.

  • Changes in hormone levels, particularly a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, may contribute to these mood fluctuations.

  • Physical discomfort such as cramps, bloating, and headaches during menstruation can also impact mood.

  1. Follicular Phase:

  • As estrogen levels gradually increase during the follicular phase, many individuals report feeling more energetic, positive, and emotionally stable.

  • Some may also experience an increase in libido during this phase.

  1. Ovulation:

  • Ovulation, marked by a surge in estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH), can sometimes coincide with heightened emotions or increased sexual desire.

  • Some individuals may experience mood improvements and feel more confident or sociable around ovulation.

  1. Luteal Phase:

  2. The luteal phase, especially the days leading up to menstruation, is when PMS symptoms often peak for many individuals.

  3. Mood changes during this phase may include irritability, anxiety, sadness, or mood swings.

  4. Some people may also experience physical symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, and food cravings, which can further affect mood.

diagram with four phases of menstrual cycle
The Four Phases, or Seasons, of the Menstrual Cycle. Credits to Vush Wellness

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD):
  1. For some individuals, the mood changes experienced during the luteal phase can be severe and debilitating, leading to a condition known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

  2. PMDD is characterized by intense mood swings, irritability, depression, and anxiety in the days leading up to menstruation.

  3. It can significantly impair daily functioning and quality of life, requiring medical intervention and support.

Understanding the phases of the menstrual cycle can empower individuals to manage their emotional well-being effectively. Engaging in self-care practices, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, seeking support from healthcare professionals, and using coping strategies can help mitigate the impact of menstrual-related mood changes. Additionally, tracking mood fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle can provide valuable insights and aid in developing personalized strategies for managing mood symptoms effectively.

Experiencing some discomfort during your menstrual cycle is typical, but if you're facing severe pain or noticing unusual changes in your cycle, seeking guidance from a reliable healthcare provider is essential.

If you're worried about any menstrual cycle issues, we encourage you to book an appointment with a Hati Health OB/GYN. Our compassionate team of physicians and advanced practice providers is dedicated to addressing your concerns and guiding you through potential treatment options. Your well-being is our priority, and we're here to support you every step of the way.

If you are not sure about the symptoms you are experiencing and want to speak to someone, book a session with one of our trusted OBGYN experts. We are offering a free introductory consultation, to answer any questions you may have with our doctors.


Hati Health is a digital platform for women, providing on-demand access to products and services, including telehealth, symptom checking, holistic wellness plans and education.

We believe that being able to talk openly about women's healthcare and bringing appropriate solutions will inspire women to achieve their fullest potential in their personal and professional lives.

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