4 Phases of Menstrual Cycle: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever noticed how your mood and energy levels change throughout the month?

This is very likely because of your menstrual cycle.

It’s a common misconception that a menstrual cycle only refers to the time when you’re on your period. In reality, a menstrual cycle is measured from the first day of your period to the day before your next period.

It usually lasts between 28-35 days and can differ in length and intensity of menstrual flow from person-to-person.

The menstrual cycle can be divided into four phases and the different menstrual cycle phases include menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase.

During this time, your body goes through both physical and hormonal changes affecting how you feel at different stages of the menstrual cycle.

This blog takes you through everything you need to know about the four phases of your menstrual cycle.


This phase spans the day your period starts to the day the menstrual bleeding stops.

When an egg from the previous cycle isn’t fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels drop. This enables the shedding of the uterine lining, which then flows out of your vagina in the form of fluid.

There’s a lot of menstrual products that can be used during this time and they include sanitary pads, tampons, and menstrual cups.

Read this blog to know why menstrual cups are better than pads and other period products.

  • Menstrual symptoms: Period cramps, mood swings, menstrual discomfort
  • Suggested workout: Light exercise such as walking, yoga, stretching
  • Preferred foods: Iron-rich foods such as chickpeas, lentils, red meat and leafy green vegetables

 Read this blog to learn about how nutrition affects your period.

Follicular phase

The follicular phase of the menstrual cycle is the longest phase, and lasts from the start of the period until ovulation. This means that the menstruation overlaps the follicular phase.

During this phase, the brain signals the release of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which in turn stimulates the ovaries to produce small sacs called ovarian follicles. Each follicle contains an immature egg.

Eventually, only the healthiest egg matures and the other follicles are reabsorbed into the body.

The maturing follicle causes hormone fluctuations such as an estrogen surge which thickens your uterus lining. This creates an ideal environment for the growth of an embryo.

  • Menstrual cycle symptoms: Increased energy levels, more focus, happier mood
  • Preferred foods: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish, flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds) and fibre (fruits and vegetables)


Ovulation is marked by egg release from the ovaries, and occurs around the middle of the menstrual cycle.

During this phase, the body releases the luteinizing hormone (LH), which prompts the release of the mature egg into the fallopian tube, where it can be fertilized by a sperm. If the egg fertilizes, it attaches to the thickened uterine lining. If not, the lining of the uterus sheds, leading to a period.

  • Menstrual symptoms: Tender breasts, mild lower abdomen pain, thin and stretchy discharge, high energy
  • Suggested workout: High intensity workouts similar to that in the follicular phase
  • Preferred foods: Vitamin D (mushrooms, salmon, sardines, eggs) and zinc

Luteal Phase

The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle lasts about 14 days, starting from ovulation until the start of the next period.

After ovulation, the follicle that holds the mature egg turns into a structure called corpus luteum.

This releases hormones like progesterone which prepare the uterus for a pregnancy. The corpus luteum eventually breaks down without pregnancy, lowering the hormone levels and telling the body to shed the thickened uterine lining.

The surge and drop in hormone levels during this time contributes to PMS.

  • Menstrual symptoms: Mood changes, headaches, acne, bloating
  • Suggested workout: Low impact workout, yoga, swimming, body-weight focused exercises
  • Preferred foods: Healthy fats (avocado, sesame, sunflower seeds, salmon) and Vitamin B6 (carrots, lentils, oats, walnuts)

 Understanding your menstrual cycle is important because it increases the overall understanding of your body and allows you to be the healthiest version of yourself. It also helps you to track your cycle, know your fertility window, manage PMS and identify your own health patterns.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is premenstrual phase?

The premenstrual phase is the time before menstruation where hormonal changes can trigger a range of symptoms known as PMS. This occurs during the last week of the luteal phase.

What is the fertility window?

The fertility window is the time in your menstrual cycle when you’re most likely to get pregnant. This is usually from 5 days leading up to ovulation, the day of ovulation and the day after ovulation.

What is cervical mucus?

Cervical mucus is a fluid produced by the cervix which changes throughout your menstrual cycle.

How can I take care of my menstrual health?

Being aware and informed of your menstrual cycle, and how it affects your body is a great start to taking care of your menstrual health.