Calee Shea, INHC, HHP, is here to break down the basics of your cycle! This is the essential education you didn’t get in your sex-ed class…
Anyone with a uterus and at least one ovary!
That means women, trans men, intersex, genderqueer, and non-binary folks can all have periods.
Your cycle = the first day of your period to the day before your next period
A normal cycle length is 21-35 days.
Your period = the bleed you get each cycle
A normal period is 2-7 days long.
Important Note: The bleed that occurs on the pill is not a real period. It is called a withdrawal bleed and it is just a response from the withdrawal from the hormones (i.e. placebo pill).
A real period comes as part of the ebb and flow of your natural cycle, and while we can have a period without ovulation, a healthy period comes AFTER ovulation – and successful ovulation is how we get the amazing hormone – progesterone.
Most HBC’s (hormonal birth control) work by suppressing ovulation (with the exception of the hormonal IUD).
What happens after the period?
After your period ends, you’ll enter the phase. In this phase, the body begins preparing for ovulation.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is what happens when an egg is released. If the egg is fertilized by sperm, a pregnancy may occur. If the egg isn’t fertilized or a pregnancy doesn’t occur, a period will come.
If pregnancy did not occur…
You’ll hang out in the luteal phase after ovulation. The body is producing progesterone and it will peak before your period.
Progesterone is something you will hear me talk about often. Progesterone is a hormone your body makes naturally. Progesterone’s main job is to support a healthy pregnancy, but it also does some other really crucial shit
For example, it balances estrogen.
While estrogen has lots of good jobs, too much estrogen can be harmful to the body – possibly leading to heavy periods, hormone imbalance, breast cancer, PMS, sadness, feelings of anxiety, and more.
Progesterone #werks to counteract all of that
It reduces inflammation, helps build muscle, protects our bones, promotes sleep, and calms the nervous system.
But here’s where the real magic happens: progesterone converts to a neurosteroid called allopregnanolone.
Allopregnanolone helps support our brain health and basically works as an antidepressant.
Low levels of allopregnanolone have been linked to anxiety, PMDD, depression, and postpartum depression
You can think of progesterone as this calming, mood-enhancing fabulous little hormone, and without enough of it, we can really feel the effects.
So how do we make sure we get more progesterone? Well, the body produces progesterone as a result of a healthy ovulation.
Once estrogen and progesterone dip…
it causes a period to start & the cycle begins again.
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Calee Shea is a Holistic Health Practioner based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is your go-to gal for all things periods, vaginal health, and sex.