What happens during your menstrual cycle?

A menstrual cycle is simply the recurring process of preparing your body for a possible pregnancy. Possible being the word of importance here.  

It actually starts on the first day of your period and ends when your next one comes. A cycle usually lasts about 29 days on average but we are all unique and so is every cycle. Which is why it’s great to keep track of yours with Natural Cycles – you’ll know exactly how long your cycle is and it detects variations, no matter how small or big those might be.

Your cycle has two main phases, the follicular and luteal phase. These phases all drill down to hormonal changes in your body. Hormones are chemicals that pretty much control a lot of things in your body and its’ functions; from complex things like determining when you can get pregnant or not to whether you’re feeling particularly hungry or not.

What happens during the cycle phases?

Phase 1: ‘the follicular phase’.

This is when your body is preparing to ovulate i.e. release an egg from your ovaries. The days leading up to ovulation are your most fertile days and the risk of pregnancy is relatively high. Which is why they will always be red days in the app when you are preventing a pregnancy.

The follicular phase starts on the first day of your period, and ends when you ovulate. Your body temperature will remain lower during the first phase of your cycle. Which is one of the main indicators for the app to know what phase of your cycle you are in and why you have to measure your temperature every morning.

Phase 2: ‘the luteal phase’

This phase begins once you have ovulated. The egg survives 12-24 hours from the time it has been released. At the same time, a reproductive hormone called progesterone is released, which causes your temperature to rise. Your temperature will be higher in the second phase of your cycle.

Temperature is the main indicator Natural Cycles uses to detect that you have ovulated, but there are some other signs you are ovulating you might notice too.

If the egg is not fertilised by sperm, which can live for up to 5 days in the body, your progesterone levels will drop again. (An easy way to prevent the sperm from meeting the egg, is to use condoms.) The dropped levels of progesterone will also cause your period to arrive, and so your next cycle begins 😉

 

We are very excited to go into depth into the topic following months, so do go ahead and comment with any feedback you might have and let us know what you would like us to talk about more.

We’re all about educating because the knowledge that lies behind the menstrual cycle not only allows you to truly understand and believe in how Natural Cycles works but it gives you control.

So help us with this movement, go ahead and share this blogpost! #yourcyclematters

Planning your life according to your cycle

Who knew that being aware of the different phases of your cycle can make your life just that little bit easier? Knowing where you’re at in your cycle is powerful and always preps you for what’s to come – so let’s make use of it ladies!

From your to-do lists to taking notes in the Natural Cycles app, integrating what you know about your cycle in day to day life planning can be extremely useful. Here’s just a few of our examples on how you could plan ahead according to your cycle and make the very most out of every phase:

Plan a date night 

Coming up to and around ovulation (the follicular phase of your cycle) us ladies often look and feel our very best, as well as attracting our partners. So planning a date night around this time is always a good idea* 😉

Schedule a workout

There’s phases of your cycle when you feel like you could conquer the world and run a marathon (usually in your follicular phase coming up to and during ovulation). Yet before your period is about to arrive you might be feeling sluggish and or have pains – did you know that exercise can help relieve cramps? So why not schedule a yoga or swimming class with one of your friends in time, that way you won’t even give those cramps a chance to arrive. 

Indulge in self-care

Last month we talked about how your cycle can affect your skin. Around your period your skin might feel a bit dull and dry, so what better time to schedule a facial or a spa day with your friends? 

Time to travel

When it comes to traveling, arriving at your destination and being surprised by aunt flo isn’t exactly what you were hoping for (especially if you don’t have tampons at hand). So knowing exactly when you will have your period might be something you can keep in mind when planning your trips. Traveling can actually have an impact on your cycle, too – so it’s always great to keep track.

Natural Cycles gets to know your Cycle over time and gives you as accurate predictions as possible, just keep in mind that these can of course change over time and you should check the app every day for your status of the day.

How do you make use of knowing where you’re at in your cycle? Do you take it into consideration when making plans? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Your Natural Cycles team.

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 *https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article/15/4/579/205993/Attractiveness-of-women-s-body-odors-over-the

 

 

3 ways traveling can impact your cycle

The summer months are here and we all know what that means – traveling through time zones, sun tanning, beach chilling, long nights and sipping cocktails.

Traveling can affect your routine and cycle for several reasons and it is not uncommon to experience a shift in your cycle. Some women experience shorter, longer or even anovulatory cycles.

Here’s some more info on what can affect your cycle when traveling, that way you’ll be prepared and can get to know your body even better.

Switching time zones

Usually the further you go, the more impact it will have on your cycle. This tends to go hand in hand with being exposed to completely different environments and jet lag that will affect sleeping patterns. That’s why we recommend skipping measuring or to tap ‘Deviating temp.’ until you have adjusted to the time zone and have a good nights rest (1-2 nights upon arrival and departure).

Stressful moments

Keep in mind that travel acts as a stressor on the body and can affect the length of your cycle and whether or not you ovulate. So it’s important to keep track of your cycle and to check the app everyday, as things might shift.

Environment, Weather and Dietary changes

Traveling usually means change – from the bed you sleep on to the food you eat. Although you might be traveling to a warmer country, your body tends to regulate it’s temperature quite well. So if you slept well, you can measure as normal. You can read more about how warm weather affects your temperature here.

 

Wondering how to use Natural Cycles when traveling? Check out our Cyclerpedia article for more info.

 

Hope you enjoy your summer holidays,

Your Natural Cycles team

Alcohol and your temperature

Going out for a few drinks at the weekend? Here’s what you should know about alcohol and your temperature.

How alcohol affects your temperature

When it comes to Natural Cycles your temperature is the main indicator the algorithm takes into account to calculate your result. Alcohol can cause your temperature to rise, which could end up skewing your data. If your temperature is fluctuating, the algorithm will detect it, and it can result in more red days. And we don’t want that now do we? 

When it’s time to tap ‘Deviating temp.’

That’s why it’s good to know when it’s time to skip measuring or tap ‘Deviating temp.’. If you’ve slept poorly or got up during the night many times, you should skip measuring. Also If you have hangover symptoms after drinking alcohol like: feeling sick, a headache or feeling groggy the next day, best leave it be.

Situations when you can still measure, despite the wine.

If you had a glass of wine or two over dinner, you probably won’t feel it the next day (depending on how often you drink etc.)  So you can log your temperature as ‘Normal’, if you don’t have any signs of a hangover.

Here at Natural Cycles, we’re no party poopers, everyone has a glass of wine or more every now and then – especially at the weekend. Just remember to ‘Skip today’ or tap ‘Deviating temp.’ on these days 😉

 

Your Natural Cycles Team

How your cycle can affect your skin

Us ladies don’t always have it easy do we? Along with hormonal changes, mood swings, PMS and periods – turns out your skin tends to change over the course of your cycle too. This goes hand in hand with your monthly menstrual cycle and changes in hormones.

You might have already noticed some of these changes, but here’s a complete guide on what you might expect during the different phases of your cycle and how you can adapt your skin care a little to help compensate these changes. Of course everyone is different but you can take notes in the Natural Cycles app to keep track of changes and maybe even tweak your skin care routine.

skin

Period: skin is dry

In the beginning of your cycle, which starts on the first day of your period (Cycle Day 1), your levels of both progesterone and estrogen are quite low. This can cause skin to feel drier and wrinkles might become more obvious.

Tip: Pamper your skin, use gently cleansers and products designed to plump and hydrate your skin.

Follicular phase: skin is stronger

Your ovaries resume the production of estrogen as your period ends, which plumps the skin and encourages collagen production. This gives your skin strength and it will look very plump and healthy. In fact, your skin is not as sensitive to pain during this time.

Tip: Carry out hair removal or skin peelings for dry skin patches during this time.

Ovulation: skin is healthy and plump

This is often the time of the month where you are at your best. You feel great and your skin is healthy and plump. Increased estrogen means collagen is high but it can also lead to some pimples for some women as spots in your skin can get oilier.

Tip: If your gonna get some passport photos taken, do it now 😉

Luteal Phase: skin is oily and prone to break out

Once you ovulate, your body starts producing the hormone progesterone. Which we know to cause the temperature rise and helps the app detect ovulation. Progesterone also stimulates the production of sebum, which is a thick and oily substance that acts a natural skin lubricant. Which can ultimately also cause pores to clog up and be the cause of breakouts.

Tip: Soak up excess oil on the skin surface with a purifying and detoxifying mask.

PMS: skin is puffy

Some women tend to retain water during this time and skin looks puffier. Also because you tend to crave junk food and sugary treats your skin might suffer.

Tip: Do your best to stick to healthy foods and keep water intake high.

 

Want to keep track of your cycle and take note of changes to your skin throughout? Natural Cycles will tell you exactly what stage in your cycle your at.

 

http://www.dermalinstitute.com/uk/library/76_article_Hormones_and_Your_Skin.html

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/period#1

http://www.empowher.com/skin-hair-amp-nails/content/5-ways-your-period-affects-your-skin?page=0,0

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16433679

http://www.refinery29.com/period-skin-care