Your period affects your body in various ways, but often we only think and talk about what happens the actual week of bleeding. But the menstrual cycle is a full, essentially one month-long cycle, and so your body and your mind experiences changes each step of the way. While, of course, everyone’s cycle will differ a bit, this is generally what you can expect to experience week by week.
We’ll start the counter off with the actual menstruation. Most periods last generally three to seven days, during which your uterus is realizing there is no baby inside and it’s shedding its lining.
You know the general symptoms of this week: you can feel bloated, you can feel cranky, you can get abdominal cramps that feel anywhere from like a gentle throbbing to full-on daggers of fire. You may experience nausea and, since your body is going through a lot and your hormones are raging, you probably notice that you feel fatigued. All the usual suspects.
Of course, you will be also bleeding and if you are experiencing discomfort, consider using leak-proof underwear such as Pantyprop’s line instead of a tampon to decrease irritation.
After menstruation, your body is ready to start all over again and prep for ovulation in earnest. Expect your estrogen and your testosterone to spike and the lining of your uterus to continue its Sisyphean existence and regrow once again.
While this is all happening, particularly thanks to the hormones raging, you may feel a spike in your libido (your sex drive) since your body is hopeful and ready for you to make a baby as it makes you more and more fertile day by day.
You should also no longer be feeling as sluggish as the last week and your bloating should go down. Your mood will be peppier (thanks to those peaking hormones and to the physical disruptions that are now over).
And now it is time to ovulate. At some point in the third week, your next egg will release from the ovary and make its way down the Fallopian tube to rest for about 24 hours in the hopes of being fertilized. During this week, your estrogen and testosterone will level out again, but your progesterone will increase.
And since your egg is primed and ready to be fertilized, your sex drive will be at its highest during this week. While your physical changes will not be as noticeable, your body temperature does actually increase a bit and your cervical mucus changes consistency. And, as your egg is released, you may possibly feel some side cramping.
Ah, the dreaded PMS. The week before menstruation, as we all well know, is when your mood can run wild thanks to your body going crazy in releasing estrogen and progesterone. Expect a potential roller coaster of food cravings, mood swings, libido ups and downs, cramps, muscle tenderness, acne breakouts, bowel movement issues, insomnia, etc. Basically a no-rules wild west for your mind and your body.
Periods are always a lot on your body, but, if you look at the cycle as a whole, month-long process, you can begin to understand your body and prepare a bit more along the way.