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The Ideal Cycle: Menstruation



We are amazing human beings! Various cultures celebrate the transition from girl into womanhood, but for many of us we were given shame about our bodies and how they function. Every month you bleed and shed parts of you for a week and not die! That’s some amazing ‘ish! The fact that we are either unaware or misunderstand why this is good makes me sad.


As menstruating humans, we are told in various ways what to think, what to wear, how to feel and why something should matter. The messages are obvious and often subliminal. But what would happen if you were to challenge them? Not necessarily start a riot but increase your awareness and understanding of your beautiful body? You would then become your own champion and empower others to do the same. Over the next couple of months we will be discussing the two main hormonal life transitions: menstruation and menopause. In this first entry we will discuss the menstrual cycle, so that you may have the power and knowledge about what’s going on in your body.


The menstrual cycle is a complex monthly hormonal cycle that your body undergoes varying from 21-35 days (ideal 28). We will simplify it by focusing on the three main phases; follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases. There are many hormones involved in this intricate process, but we will primarily talk about; gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol (a type of estrogen) and progesterone.


GnRH is produced by the hypothalamus that will either stimulate follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH) to be produced by your pituitary gland based on your menstrual cycle phase.



FOLLICULAR PHASE

This is the first half of the menstrual cycle counted from the first day of your period to day 14 of your cycle but may vary in duration depending on the length of your specific cycle. In this phase follicular stimulating hormone (FSH)levels gradually increases stimulating the ovaries to produce estradiol. This influx of estradiol causes one primary egg known as a follicle to mature and the uterine lining to build up.


OVULATION

Estradiol continues to increase until it peaks around day 10-14. FSH then starts to decrease and LH begins to rise. These changes cause ovulation to occur, 24-36 hours after estradiol peaks and 10-12 hours after the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. Yay! The mature egg is free and travels toward the uterus for the next approximately 14 days.


LUTEAL PHASE

Luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulates progesterone production which causes the uterine lining to maintain itself so that if the egg is fertilized implantation and pregnancy maintenance can occur. Progesterone should peak around day 18-22 then If you’re not “preggo” then the progesterone levels drop and the uterine lining “leggo”! Day 1 of your period has now begun. The body is about balance so any variations from this normal/ideal hormonal cycling; longer (>35 days) or shorter (<21) may be indicative of anovulation or luteal phase defects, which are associated with menstrual bleeding abnormalities.


I know it may feel like a nice break when you have a longer cycle, but having skipped periods, or no bleeding at all, may be a sign of something more serious such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), ovarian insufficiency, Cushing’s disease or something a bit simpler such as post birth control syndrome (post pill syndrome). Tune in next week on my website when we’ll discuss the other impacts of our sex hormones such as your mental health.


If you have questions about your hormones or are looking to connect with a doctor focused on hormones schedule your 15-minute complimentary intro call or call the office 616-275-0049. Until next time, remember you are resilient, capable of healing, and powerful!


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Dr. Gaynel Nave, is an Arizona licensed naturopathic doctor and trauma informed clinician who practices as a naturopathic educator and consultant with clients virtually in Grand Rapids, Michigan and beyond. She’s originally from Jamaica and uses the knowledge from her culture, her naturopathic medical training and trauma informed training to facilitate healing for her clients.


She obtained her naturopathic degree at the federally accredited naturopathic medical school, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. Dr. Nave has also received additional training in Neuro Emotional Technique (NET), the principles of Internal Family Systems (IFS), and other forms of trauma informed care.


Her practice is focused on facilitating womxn to reconnect to their identities by addressing the connection between their hormonal and mental wellbeing. She utilizes the power of Naturopathic Medicine combined with modern diagnostics to offer safe and effective support to all her clients. Each therapeutic partnership with Dr. Nave involves an analysis and understanding of the client’s unique needs and story as well as the use of classical homeopathy, hormonal education, nutrition, and environmental medicine as the primary supportive tools.


To connect:

Website: www.drgaynelnave.com

IG @drgaynelnave (www.instagram.com/drgaynelnave)

FB @drgaynelnave (https://www.facebook.com/drgaynelnave/)

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