Menstrual Cycle and Lifestyle
10 Surprising Ways Your Menstrual Cycle Impacts Your Life.
Some facts about the menstrual cycle are pretty common knowledge, such as the phases and duration. However, there are a few things you’ve probably never heard of before.
Niels Van De Roemer, PhD, Daysy’s medical expert, has in-depth knowledge of the female cycle. He shared with us 10 ways it affects a woman’s daily life. But before we dive into the surprising details about your menstrual cycle, let’s go over the basics.
What Is the Menstrual Cycle?
The menstrual cycle is a series of events that take place in a woman’s body from one period to the next. Generally, it begins at puberty and ends at menopause.
These cyclic changes occurring in your uterus and ovaries usually last about 28 days but may range from 21 - 40 days.1 Biochemical messengers released by your brain (the hypothalamus and pituitary gland) and ovaries regulate the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle has two phases not four. Some sources put menstruation and ovulation as separate stages, but they’re actually part of the follicular phase. Here are the phases of the menstrual cycle:
- Follicular Phase — Each menstrual cycle begins with your period which typically lasts 2 - 7 days. During the follicular phase, hormones trigger the growth and maturation of ovarian follicles. Multiple follicles develop, but only one matures.
At the same time, your uterine lining gets thicker as it prepares for the possibility of a pregnancy. The follicular phase ends with ovulation (egg release). This occurs about two weeks before your period begins due to a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH). The released egg then journeys through the fallopian tube to your uterus.
- Luteal Phase — The structure left behind after egg release develops into a new secretory gland called the corpus luteum. This mainly produces the hormone progesterone to maintain the uterine lining. If a pregnancy doesn’t occur in the next 12-14 days, the corpus luteum breaks down, hormone levels drop, and the uterine lining sheds.
10 Surprising Ways Your Menstrual Cycle Impacts Your Life
Your menstrual cycle isn’t restricted to your ovaries and uterus alone. Here are some interesting ways that your cycle affects your daily life from Dr. Roemer.
1. It Isn’t Always Consistent
Although your menstrual cycle is tightly regulated, it’s not perfectly regular. You may notice changes in your period duration and how much blood you lose. Your symptoms may also vary throughout the year.
Stress, hormonal changes, and your diet can affect your menstrual cycle. For instance, some women notice that their periods get heavier around the December/January holidays. This may be because they’re eating more and drinking lots of alcohol.
On the other hand, the length of menstrual cycles may shorten around summer. This may be due to the effect sunlight has on the sleep-wake cycle that regulates your hormones.
2. You’re Most Attractive During Your Fertile Period
Yes, you read that right. Men and women find you more attractive when fertile. One study showed men images of women during various phases of their menstrual cycles. The participants were more attracted to women in their fertile window and luteal phase.
3. Your Movements Slow Down During Ovulation
Your gait and how you dance become slower and more sensual around ovulation. This is sexy and gets you lots of attention, even without your knowledge.
In a study, men analyzed the dancing silhouettes of women and found those ovulating more attractive. This supports the report that exotic dancers make more money during their fertile periods.
Furthermore, some women feel more tired after ovulation due to the hormone changes. They may struggle with intense physical activities and endurance sports events.
4. It Changes Your Scent
How you smell varies with your menstrual cycle. Your scent, when fertile, stimulates your partner’s sexual desire.
But it’s not just men who are smelling their partners, women are doing the same. Every month around your fertile window, your sense of smell sharpens. It’s how your body ensures you can sniff your partner’s pheromones.
5. Your Voice Sounds Different
Your voice probably sounds the same to you all the time. Nevertheless, researchers have observed that it can change slightly during your menstrual cycle.
Women speak with a higher frequency around ovulation. This may be because your vocal cords respond to sex hormones like estrogen, which increases around ovulation. Studies also show that men are more attracted to a woman’s voice during this period. Taking hormonal contraceptives can interfere with how your menstrual cycle affects your voice.
6. Hormonal Changes May Increase Your Jealousy and Wandering Eye
The way your hormones change during your menstrual cycle affects your sexual desire. Around ovulation, women are more likely to desire other people besides their partners. This may be why most flings occur around this period.
Ovulation also makes you guard your partner. This is related to elevated estrogen levels. Interestingly, women on hormonal contraceptives show more jealousy.
7. Your Toilet Habits Change
Do you spend more time on the toilet during your period? It’s not all in your head, the hormones (prostaglandins) causing your uterus to contract also stimulate your intestines. Falling progesterone levels result in increased bowel movements too.
8. You May Ovulate Multiple Times
It’s absolutely possible to ovulate more than once each month. Some women may experience two or three growth waves of follicles resulting in the release of more than one egg.
Fertilization of one egg would generally stop all other possible ovulations and fertilizations. Therefore, when multiple ovulations occur, both eggs are typically released less within 24 hours. Fraternal twins are conceived if both eggs get fertilized. Using fertility tracker such as Daysy ensures that you don’t miss this slim fertile window.
9. Your Underwear Changes Color
Don’t blame your washing machine for the bleached patch in your panties. Ruined underwear and having a vagina go hand in hand.
Vagina and cervical mucus pH is typically about 4.5 for most of your cycle. This acidity is protective against infections and toxic to sperm. It’s also responsible for bleaching your underwear color.
All this changes around ovulation when your vaginal pH climbs to about 7.0. This becomes more conducive for sperm to thrive and increases your fertility.
10. How Much Blood Do You Actually Lose?
On average, women lose between 10 to 80 ml of blood during each period. This is about the same amount as two to three shot glasses. While it might not seem like a lot, it adds up over the years. A woman uses about 17,000 menstrual hygiene products in her reproductive lifetime.
It’s incredible the things a woman’s body can do. Month after month, during your reproductive years, your body goes through cyclic events that affect your uterus and ovaries. Its effects extend to various aspects of your life, including your gait, emotions, voice, smell, gut, libido, and underwear. This is why it’s crucial that you monitor your menstrual cycle with Daysy and understand how it affects you.
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Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle - NHS
Do women's faces become more attractive near ovulation?
Research study shows men find dancing women more attractive during most fertile time
Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus?
Physical activity and your menstrual cycle
Attractiveness of women's body odors over the menstrual cycle
Fertile Women Have a Heightened Sense of Smell
Do Women's Voices Provide Cues of the Likelihood of Ovulation ...
Women's Fertility Status Alters Other Women's Jealousy and Mate ...
Hormonal birth control use and relationship jealousy
Women can ovulate more than once a month | New Scientist
Challenging period stigma and ending period poverty | Alberta.ca