What Do Your Ovaries, Uterus and Brain Have In Common?
These three are key collaborators on your Menstrual Cycle. Had you thought about your ovaries speaking to your brain?! What about your hormones being the grand connector? Well while they’re all chatting away, we thought we would take some time to dive a little deeper by putting together five fast facts, aimed to educate, enlighten and highlight that your Menstrual Cycle is so much more than just your period.
Also, knowing your cycle gives you that extra bit of understanding when it comes to the many, many changes often experienced during your 21-35 days cycling - and that knowledge is your power!
1. Firstly, there’s actually two cycles involved.
It’s true that your menstrual cycle starts with the first day of your period and ends when your next period begins but did you know there’s actually two cycles that make up your MC? Here’s their names to drop into your next Menstrual Cycle conversation - the Ovarian Cycle and the Uterine Cycle. The first cycle is about preparing the egg for it’s release from the ovary and the second cycle is about preparing the uterus to accept the egg - or start a new cycle. So there’s one happening in the ovaries, and one in the uterus. For the cycle to run as it should, the ovaries, uterus AND your brain have to collaborate, and they do that via your hormones. Thanks hormones, you’re ok.
2. There’s also two phases. The follicular phase and the luteal phase.
When you think follicular, think pre-ovulation. This phase starts on the first day of your period and ends with ovulation. The hormones released during this phase trigger follicles to grow grow grow PLUS it’s when that all important surge of oestrogen is released. This sex hormone allows for one follicle to eventually release an egg cell. Now, time to quickly look at this image for ovulation insight for the eyes - where the egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube.
Then comes the luteal phase, which would be a good band name. This slots in after ovulation and before your period. That same hero follicle (corpus luteum if you will) now produces progesterone, which allows the uterus lining to soften so it can shed. This depends on whether the egg is fertilized of course, because if it is, well that means baby building rather than wall shedding. Also, this is the phase where PMS symptoms come to play so show yourself some self-love in honour of the luteal phase - may we suggest chocolate with your next order ;)
3. When the egg transforms, it produces oestrogen AND progesterone.
Once you have ovulated, the egg produces both oestrogen and progesterone. It’s at this time that hormonal changes are contributing to possible mood and skin changes, or maybe causing bloating or sore breasts. So next time you’re in this phase, be kind - unwind.
4. Your cramps are caused by not one fun factor but two.
PGF2α” and “PGE2. No, this is not Elon Musk's new baby's name. These two are the cramp sisters, two prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) that cause the uterine muscle to contract. This helps in bringing on your period and is worth a google if you do experience cramping for the why behind it. Fun fact - this is also linked to period poos, which are a thing and something we talked about recently on Instagram here!
5. Back to the brain and it turns out, it does get bigger for part of the Menstrual Cycle.
It’s all got to do with the hormones, which are being told to get the womb ready and release the egg. Through the two cycles women experience heightened imagination, sexual desire, spatial skills and memory whilst also often feeling more anxious and then calmer.
Basically, the hippocampus region of the brain gets bigger each month upon the release of female hormones but that’s not all. This right here is a very interesting read if you’re as intrigued as we were!
There’s so much to take in when it comes to truly understanding our bodies, and changes are ongoing so you’re never going to have it truly nailed BUT you are going to feel more in control, knowing how those all-important hormones are influencing your, everything - including your brain! It’s all happening.
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