When thinking about fertility (from a female perspective) one of the first places I support clients with is getting to understand their cycle. It’s amazing how much we can learn about ourselves when we listen and check in with our bodies. So many of us go from month to month not really paying attention to what is happening with our energy, mood, sleep, food, cravings, exercise and sex drive - but all of these are impacted by where we are in our cycle and what our hormones are doing.
Broadly speaking there are three phases of the menstrual cycle which I explore with clients. I will go into each of these in more detail in another post but as a quick overview:
1. Follicular phase: Begins on the first day of your period and last on average between 11-27 days. This is where the body is preparing to release an egg.
2. Ovulation: One (sometimes two or more in very rare occasions or with fertility drugs which stimulate ovulation such as Clomid) egg is released. This happens over one day.
3. Luteal phase: Post ovulation we enter the luteal phase where the body either prepares for pregnancy or this phase ends when menstruation occurs. A typical luteal phase lasts between 11-17 days. If implantation occurs then the corpus luteum will start secreting hormones to maintain the pregnancy. If pregnancy is not established then the corpus luteum will shrink away and be reabsorbed into the tissue. Menstruation will occur.
Imbalances at any of these stages will disrupt hormone balance and how well we are able to produce a ripe egg, release that egg, produce a healthy uterine lining, implant and maintain a pregnancy.
This image shows someone who ovulates on day 14 but many women ovulate earlier or later even on a 28 day cycle - this can be absolutely fine or may need support. Diet and lifestyle can make a huge impact on hormones, our cycle and symptoms that we may have over the course of a cycle.