How the Menstrual Cycle Works

How the Menstrual Cycle Works

Let’s normalize period talk

Your period is a beautiful, miraculous part of your monthly lifestyle as a woman. Partnering with your cycle can become a way to tune in to your body and its needs, to listen to your intuition and I truly believe can become a joyous part of your month- not something to avoid or fear or hate.

Part of the issue with our menstrual cycles is that we do not understand how the menstrual cycle works. I mean think about it…how many of us were actually taught the ins and outs of our hormones and the details of what is going on? And to take it a step further, how many of us were taught that what we crave, how we want to move our bodies, how we want to socially interact, when we want to have sex and more is dictated by the beautiful hormonal ebb and flows of the month?

While we will be detailing more on cyclic living in future posts (and we chat about it quite a bit on the Nourishing Women Podcast!) today’s blog post is to shed light on the specific details of how the menstrual cycle works.

Follicular Phase (menstruation to ovulation)

The main hormones involved in your menstruation are:



FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone)

LH (leutinizing hormone)

Your cycle begins on day one on your first full day of your bleed, any spotting occurring before is considered part of your previous cycle, and your cycle’s last day is the day before your next period. When counseling clients I have found they are surprised by this, most consider the period bleed to be the end of their menstrual cycle, where it actually signals the beginning!

Our cycles can healthily last a varying amount of days, anywhere from 28-35 days typically is considered normal. Most women will even have slight variation with a typical average length of time. So for instance, you may usually have a 28 day cycle but its not uncommon to experience a shorter or longer period from time to time, too- all depending on when ovulation occurs.

In the beginning of your cycle during your period, your primary reproductive hormones- estrogen and progesterone- are very low. This signals the pituitary gland to release FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which stimulates the ovaries to make a follicule to prepare for ovulation.

Image via

Image via

Luteal phase (ovulation to menstraution)

As you continue on in your cycle, for many around days 12-16, a mature follicule will release an egg that will travel down the Fallopian tube to either be implanted by sperm or to slowly dissolve and be released during your next period with your uterine lining. During this time around ovulation, your estrogen is spiking and this activates LH (leutinizing hormone) to be released, and with this surge of LH your body ovulates.

The ruptured and released follicule, now referred to as the corpus leteum, releases progesterone and more estrogen in hopes of becoming pregnant where both hormones would stay risen, and if fertlization of an egg with sperm does not occur and you are not pregnant, progesterone and estrogen will drop and this will create another bleed, i.e. your next menstrual cycle.

And there you have it, a very basic overview of how the menstrual cycle works!

more period talk

Note: While we are not discussing FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) specifically in today’s post, its important to note that this is why its important to know when you are ovulating specifically based off your body signal’s rather than thinking it will occur during the same day every month, as for all women, you will have variations. Once I help a client regain their menstrual cycle, the next step I like to take is to help them understand and see the specific signals their body is giving their for ovulation- that way they can know exactly when they can expect to menstruate. As time goes on, this is also what allows for us to chat about cyclic living and partnering with your body through different behaviors throughout the month.

Enjoyed learning how your menstrual cycle works?

Learn more with my favorite episodes on the topic:

Episode 58: Period Talk: What is Normal with Menstruation, Cervical Discharge + Common Infections

Episode 86: Fertility Awareness Method, the Menstrual Cycle and Hormones with Lisa Hendrickson-Jack

And more blog posts on the topic:

Why Carbohydrates are Necessary for Women

Not Getting Your Period is Not Normal: Part One

Not Getting Your Period is Not Normal: Part Two

Tell me: What questions do you have about your menstrual cycle? Do you have a regular, consistent period every month?