Hormones play a very important role not only in your menstrual cycle but in overall health. Sometimes they sound a little difficult to wrap your head around but we’re here to help break it all down. Here is what you really need to know about your female hormones.
You can think about hormones as your body’s communication system. They trigger a lot of important processes such as making you feel hungry or tired. During your menstrual cycle, these hormones rise and fall in a specific pattern causing changes in your body. Some you can see, such as your period, but others you cannot, such as ovulation.
Estrogen: the hormone behind your period
This hormone fluctuates over the course of your cycle. A gradual rise in the level of estrogen in the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle — the follicular phase — is what causes your uterine lining to build up each month.
You might notice that your sex drive tends to increase in the days leading up to ovulation. Once you have ovulated your estrogen levels drop quite sharply, which might cause you to feel down, but they start to rise again a little until your period comes along.
If no pregnancy occurs, which is most often the case, estrogen (and progesterone) levels will drop again in the second phase of the cycle, causing your uterine lining to be shed i.e. your period and your next cycle to begin.
Luteinizing hormone: makes you ovulate
This is the hormone that causes your egg to be released from the ovary. As with all hormones, LH is present throughout the cycle, yet the surge happens just before ovulation.
This is why Natural Cycles will ask you to test for LH for a couple of days before you are expected to ovulate. It indicates whether your body is getting ready to ovulate or not. A positive result is a great indicator that you are likely about to ovulate, but the app can only confirm if you have ovulated with following high temperatures which are caused by….
Progesterone: causes your temperature rise
Progesterone levels shoot up once an egg was released from your ovaries i.e. ovulation has occurred.
This hormone causes your body to warm up a little. If you take a look at your Natural Cycles graph – you will see that your temperature is higher after you have ovulated. This is the main indicator the algorithm uses to identify your ovulation.
Should a woman become pregnant, the progesterone levels will continue to rise and so will her temperature. Whereas you will see your temperature drop again as progesterone drops once your period arrives.
Progesterone, though essential for reproduction, can bring along annoying symptoms for women during the last two weeks before your period.
These symptoms more commonly known as PMS include bloating, breast tenderness, and acne. It helps to keep track of these symptoms in the app and even things like exercising can help to counteract.
Your female hormones determine what goes on during your menstrual cycle and the changes you experience during the different phases. So getting to know them will explain a few things not only about how your body works but also how tracking your temperature can identify your ovulation and fertile days.
Your Natural Cycles team