The Hormones During Your Menstrual Cycle

Dr Michela RossiDr Michela Rossi

All content within this page has been reviewed and endorsed by

Dr Michela Rossi, Consultant Endocrinologist

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Wondering what goes on during your menstrual cycle?Confused emoji

How does your body know when to get your period?

Why might you feel more emotional a week or so before you menstruate?

It’s all because of the hormone changes during your menstrual cycle.

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1

What are hormones?

Hormones are natural chemicals in your body. They are produced by glands in your body and tell other parts of your body what to do.

Hormones can affect whether you feel happy or sad, stressed or relaxed, anxious or angry. They also control your menstrual cycle.

Understanding the hormonal control of your menstrual cycle is helpful for getting a grasp on what’s going on with your body during puberty and beyond.

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2

Which hormones are involved in my menstrual cycle?

Changes that occur in your oestrogen and progesterone levels during your menstrual cycle can have effects on your physical and emotional health. You might experience breast tenderness, bloating, headaches, food cravings or tiredness. You might also have days where hormonal changes make you feel more confident and take on new challenges!

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3

How do these hormones affect my menstrual cycle?

Variations in menstrual cycle hormone levels account for the difference in menstrual cycle lengths from girl to girl.

While hormonal control of the menstrual cycle functions by generally the same rules and guidelines for each person, each body is slightly different, with fluctuations in how much hormones are produced and when.

These fluctuations will make different people’s periods have slightly different lengths.

The average menstrual cycle is anywhere between 21 to 35 days. There can however be a lot of variability in cycle length, particularly in the first few years after your 1st period.

Hormone levels
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Menstruation (Day 01-07)

The first day of your period is Day 1 of your menstrual cycle. This is when the menstrual cycle hormones levels are at their lowest.

Prompted by the low levels of estrogen and progesterone, the lining of your uterus (endometrium) breaks down and leaves your body through the vagina, as a reddish fluid. This is your period.

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That’s when you’ll want to use your favourite period protection, like Always Ultra sanitary towels. They ensure up to 100% leakage protection as they have a super absorbent core that turns menstrual liquid into a gel, and gel can’t leak.

During your period, other menstrual hormones called prostaglandins get involved and make your uterus contract, helping it push out the endometrium. This is why you may feel period cramps.

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Pre-ovulation - The Follicular Phase (Day 08-13)

In the second phase of your menstrual cycle, your ovaries start producing more of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which makes your period taper and stop.

This hormone signals to your ovaries that it’s time to start preparing a follicle – a small liquid-filled sac in your ovaries that contains an egg.

During this time the endometrium gets thicker as it prepares for a potential pregnancy.

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Ovulation

On Day 14 of a 28 days cycle (or 14 days before the next period), a peak of hormones makes the follicle release a mature egg, a process known as ovulation.

This egg travels along the fallopian tube. If a sperm, which is the male reproductive cell, fertilises the egg, a baby will start to develop.

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Around the time of your ovulation, you might notice increased vaginal discharge.

This is completely normal, and you can wear an Always Dailies pantyliner to help absorb the increased discharge and keep you feeling fresh.

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Pre-menstruation - The Luteal Phase (Day 25-28)

The next part of the female hormone cycle is called the luteal phase. This is when progesterone levels rise, and estrogen levels drop.

Progesterone’s job is to thicken the lining of your uterus in preparation, so that the egg you released during ovulation can successfully attach and grow inside your uterus (if it was fertilized). On Days 21 to 24, progesterone reaches its peak.

After this, if your egg wasn’t fertilized, progesterone levels start to drop, signalling your body to start breaking down the lining of your uterus, as it is no longer needed.

This is when girls and women may start to experience symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome).

Read more here about PMS, what it is, and how to deal with it.

Then, your body starts all over again with Day 1 of your menstrual cycle.

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