Knowing Your Cycle. Period.

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On Monday I wrote a post on ways to preserve your fertility for the time you decide to become pregnant. One of the things I mentioned was knowing your cycle, so I figured it would be a good thing to elaborate on the topic a bit more.

The first thing you need to know is that your cycle is not only relevant when your periods are around but is something that you should be aware of for the whole month. This is simply because a woman’s hormone levels vary at different times during a month and sometimes during a week. So here is a quick breakdown of your monthly cycle and what happens at each stage.

Follicular Phase:

This phase starts after you’ve finished your period. During this time the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) rises which stimulates the ovaries to develop a number of follicles each with an egg inside. Estrogen will also rise so that the lining of uterus swells to prepare for a fertilized egg.

Ovulatory Phase:

In this phase FSH will continue to rise as well as Luteinizing Hormone (LH) to enable one follicle to further swell so that an egg bursts and travels down the fallopian tubes and then into the uterus. Estrogen will continue to rise so that the lining of your uterus continues to thicken to support the fertilized egg. During this phase you are most likely to fall pregnant because your internal environment is most prepared to host the fertilized egg.

Luteal Phase:

At this stage the follicle from which the egg bursts turns into what is called the corpus luteum which secrets progesterone to further thicken the uterine lining and help keep it in place to host an embryo. If the egg is fertilized than progesterone will continue to rise to help support the embryo. If the egg is not fertilized then estrogen and progesterone levels will drop causing the uterine lining to disintegrate and thus causing your period.

Menstrual Phase:

As the name indicates this is the time of the month when your menstruating. After the drop in progesterone triggers the shedding of your uterine lining (i.e. your period) estrogen peaks and then drops to stimulate a new cycle of ovulation.

So that’s what’s happening inside of your body every month! Do you have any questions or concerns? Post in the comments below!

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Keep a Thought for Fertility

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Today more and more women are enjoying a flourishing career and are deciding to put child bearing for a later time in their lives. For women that are hormonally healthy this decision is absolutely fine. But if you are suffering from ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids or abnormal hormone levels then leaving these conditions untreated while you’re on birth control for years can make it extremely difficult for you to become pregnant when you do decide its time for kids. You may think that in a worst case scenario you can opt for IVF,  but studies have shown that hormonal imbalances relating to reproductive health if left untreated can even make conception through IVF harder.

As I’ve mentioned many times there is always a way to do things and preparing your body from now for a healthy pregnancy is never something too early and shouldn’t be something too hard. Firstly, and probably most importantly address any hormonal issue you’ve got to avoid future complications. Following these tips will help your fertility in the long term.

Go Organic and Free Range:

Ensuring that the food you eat is clean and healthy is so important. Unfortunately much of the meat, fruit and vegetables we consume are full of hormones, pesticides and other chemicals that can ruin your hormonal balance. Try to eat organic and free range as much as possible and if you do slip sometimes it’s fine just try to stay healthy.

Get Rid of the Nasties:

Look around your house for any hidden nasties. Take a look in your bathroom cabinet and check for any self-care products that contain chemicals I mentioned in my post. If they do than you’re better off showing them the bin. Chuck out any sauces, condiments, or packaged meals with funny additives and replace then with natural spices, homemade salads, and sauces.

Are you deficient?

Take a blood test and check for any deficiencies in vitamins or minerals and supplement for at least four months before you plan to get pregnant that way your body is in perfect shape for conception.

Know your cycle!

Learn more about your cycle so that you understand your body better and you’re able to conceive more easily. Some great information on your cycle can be found here.

Fertility Foods:

Try and incorporate foods that help with fertility such as leafy greens, chickpeas, eggs, avocados, turmeric and sunflower seeds.

Take your Time:

When you are trying to get pregnant after years of contraception you may feel anxious if you don’t get pregnant straight away. Remember to give yourself time and try to work with your partner to get healthy and de-stress at least four months before planning to become pregnant this will make things so much easier!