Young and adult women should feel empowered in their bodies and the essential bodily processes that naturally occur. One of the most critical processes that every woman goes through is menstruation. Understanding your menstrual cycle can empower you to care for yourself, plan a pregnancy, or take charge of your fertility. However, you may be asking yourself: What happens to your hormones during the stages of your period? What are the phases of the menstrual cycle? We’re sharing the answers that every woman should know.

What Is the Menstrual Cycle?

To begin, you should understand that your period might look and feel different from what other women experiences. Despite that, all women experience the menstrual cycle phases – technically speaking. The first phase is the follicular phase and the second phase is the luteal phase. On average, this process takes place over 21 to 40 days.

Your cycle is defined by two key events: menstruation and ovulation. Menstruation refers to what most women consider their period and ovulation is when the egg is released into your womb.

The Phases of Menstrual Cycle

The first day of your menstrual cycle is considered the first day that you are bleeding or menstruating. For most women, the period lasts approximately five days during the follicular phase. Now, how do you move between phases of the menstrual cycle? Hormones. Your brain will produce a hormone that will encourage follicles to grow. When the follicle grows, estrogen hormones during this period will increase.

As your estrogen levels rise, your body will switch to creating luteinizing hormone, which sets up the second phase of menstruation. Next, ovulation will occur about two weeks after your period. The day of ovulation is the day that an egg is released into the fallopian tubes before it arrives in your womb.

The six-day window surrounding ovulation is considered your fertile window or when you are most likely to conceive a child. While your chance of getting pregnant exists in that period, the ovulation process only lasts for 12 to 24 hours. Understanding the phases of the menstrual cycle can be critical if you are looking to conceive.

Now that the follicular phase is over, the hormones during your period will shift into the luteal phase. Your body will produce progesterone, which is critical to ensure that the fertilized egg is starting to grow and secure itself in the womb if you are trying to get pregnant.

If the egg is not successfully fertilized or attached to the uterine wall, the body will shift hormone production again to start the process of shedding the uterine lining. Approximately 10 to 16 days after ovulation occurs, you will start to menstruate again and your menstrual cycle will restart.

Understanding Your Hormones During Period

During your period, your hormones will fluctuate as each phase of the process initiates and ends. For example, your body will produce more estrogen in the follicular phase.

However, hormones during period phases will change again when the egg is in your womb and waiting to be fertilized.  If you are experiencing concerns about your hormone levels during your period, you can work with a TopLine MD Alliance affiliated doctor or a fertility specialist to received a more detailed analysis and information.

What Is Considered “Normal Bleeding” During Menstruation?

Women have unique experiences during their periods, It’s important to know what is “normal” and what is “abnormal.” Sometimes abnormal periods are signs of other conditions and diseases that should be treated by a medical professional. What are the signs of a period that is normal and progressing according to plan?

  • Bleeding lasts from 4-8 days.
  • You have a period every 21-35 days when counting the first day of bleeding as day one of your cycle.
  • You lose 2-3 tablespoons worth of blood during the period (without considering other tissue that might be more voluminous).
  • Your period is regular after the first few years of having one and once you complete puberty.

Periods can often come with discomfort and symptoms that are unpleasant but not necessarily a cause for concern. Some of the most common symptoms that women experience when on their period include:

  • Increased hunger
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Cramping

These symptoms can come and go throughout the years, and you might develop symptoms that were not there depending on lifestyle factors and pre-existing conditions. Adolescent periods are typically shorter, less painful, and lighter than mature periods.

What Is Considered Abnormal Bleeding During Menstruation?

Irregular menstruation is not always a cause for concern, but you should always speak to a medical professional to ensure that you are not experiencing a more serious issue. Some of the signs that you are experiencing an abnormal period that might require medical treatment include:

  • Severe pain
  • Not menstruating for 90 or more days without pregnancy
  • Heavier than usual flow
  • Needing to change your tampon or pad once an hour or more often
  • Periods lasting for longer than a week

Some women have irregular periods that might start and stop without following a normal schedule. In these cases, taking birth control is more critical if you hope to avoid pregnancy. It can also make it more challenging to conceive successfully without the help of a fertility specialist.

Why Do Some Women Have Different Experiences on Their Periods?

Your lifestyle can greatly impact your period. Some of the most common causes of changes to your period, irregular periods, or changes to menstruation include:

  • Exercising too much
  • Extreme weight loss or low body fat
  • Switching medications or birth control pills
  • Stress
  • Breastfeeding or pregnancy
  • Fibroids
  • Hormone therapy
  • Surgery
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
  • Scarring in the uterine lining

When you notice sudden changes to your period or if you feel like something is not right, you should seek medical care. An OB-GYN can topically perform specifics tests and exam to learn more about what is going on in your body. If you are concerned that your irregular periods might impact your ability to conceive, you can also work with a TopLine MD Alliance affiliated OB-GYN to receive customized fertility advice that is tailored to your specific situation. With the TopLine MD Alliance, help is available and you are never alone.

Do You Need Support to Conceive or Have Questions About Menstruation? The TopLine MD Alliance Can Help

Menstruation is a natural bodily process that every woman experiences, but that does not mean that each experience is identical. Whether you are having irregular periods or are ready to start fertility tracking to improve your chances of conception, finding the right care team and OB-GYN is essential. With the TopLine MD Alliance, you can find trustworthy and experienced medical professionals who understand women’s health issues.

If you are ready to find the right OB-GYN and doctor for your health needs, Find a Provider today. The TopLine MD Alliance adheres to a high standard of care so that all women feel heard and supported throughout at any age. All of the affiliated physicians and staff are here to address your concerns, answer your questions, and help you through the menstrual process.


The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.