1. The Follicular Phase:
This is the first phase of your cycle and usually lasts from days 1-14 (depending on the length of your cycle). During this time, estrogen levels are rising as your body prepares to ovulate. This is also known as the ‘building’ or ‘growth’ phase because it’s when your uterine lining gets thicker in preparation for a potential pregnancy.
2. The Ovulatory Phase:
This second phase starts around day 14-15 and goes until around day 28 (again, depending on the length of your cycle). As its name implies, this is when you actually ovulate — meaning an egg is released from one of your ovaries into the fallopian tube. This is the best time to conceive and also the most fertile period of your cycle.
3. The Luteal Phase:
This third phase starts right after ovulation and lasts until the beginning of your next menstrual period. During this time, the ovaries produce progesterone which helps thicken the uterine lining in preparation for possible pregnancy.
4. The Menstrual Period:
This fourth and final phase marks the end of your cycle and usually begins around day 28-30 and lasts an average of five days. During this time, if you didn’t conceive then your body will shed its uterine lining along with menstrual blood through your vagina — marking the start of a new cycle.
It’s important to note that everyone’s cycle is different and can vary greatly from person to person. While the phases outlined above are considered the most common, you may find your own cycle varies slightly or significantly. Taking the time to track your cycle can help you better understand how it works and prepare for ovulation, if pregnancy is something you’re hoping to achieve. It can also help you be more aware of any changes in your body and alert you to anything out of the ordinary that could signal a health issue. So take some time today to get familiar with your cycle and make sure you know what’s going on with your body!