The Follicular and The Luteal Phase: What Are They?

These two instrumental, but widely unknown parts of our cycle.

As we know, our cycle consists of two main phases: menstruation, and ovulation. Between these phases are two periods of varied lengths, that focus on recuperating our bodies, and preparing them for the next step. Between menstruation and ovulation, there is the follicular phase, and between ovulation and menstruation, there is the luteal phase.

Here, we’ll learn about the follicular and luteal phases, and how to care for our body during them.

Your Cycle as a Whole

Every month, your body works clockwise through the four phases of the menstrual cycle.

Menstruation

Menstruation marks the beginning of your cycle. Here, the uterus is shedding the lining built during the follicular/ovulatory period, as well as expelling the excess fluid (blood) that it had been holding.

Follicular

This phase begins along with your period, and prepares the body for ovulation.

Ovulation

Ovulation is the sole purpose of your cycle.  During this phase, one of your ovaries (your body alternates between the two) will send an egg to the your uterus, where it will then stay until it is either fertilized, or expelled during your next menstrual bleed. As preparation for this process, our uterine lining will thicken, and our uterus will begin to withhold more fluid (blood) than usual.

Luteal

This phase occurs after ovulation. The two outcomes of this phase are either pregnancy, or continued menstruation.

Throughout these transitions, your body is working hard to preserve your mental, physical, and hormonal balance. By being mindful of these changes, and the energy your body is exerting, you may heal your relationship with your cycle, and in turn, your body.

Now, to go in-depth on the follicular and luteal phases!

The Follicular Phase

Menstruation to Ovulation

This phase begins along with your period, on day 1 of your cycle. It ends once you are in your fertile window, or ovulatory period.

The follicular phase sets the stage for your ovulation period. This phase carries a beautiful weight of formation, and preparation. Here, our energy levels are at their highest, and the hormone estradiol begins to influence us as well. Estradiol is a form of estrogen, a creative and fertile hormone.

Here, blood flow increases, and our uterus begins to grow and expand in size. It prepares us for ovulation by retaining fluids, and our pre-existing uterine lining begins to thicken.

By caring for and aiding our body during this time, we may curate a calm and pleasurable ovulation period.

Caring for Your Body during this Phase

Simple acts of self-care can enhance your experience in the present, as well as throughout the rest of your cycle. Remember, this isn’t just a period of preparation, it is an experience and phase of its own.

Your Diet

Your diet will greatly impact your experience, as well as the effectiveness of your follicular period. Here, your body has a higher need for proteins, fibers, and liquids. Being sure to intake enough B vitamins, iron and calcium, and folic and amino acid is important as well.

By consciously tapering your diet, you and your health may reap the rejuvinatize benefits of this time.

Foods for Your Follicular Period

Proteins

  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Tofu
  • Greens (kale, broccoli, etc)
  • Nuts & nut butters
  • Seeds

Fibers

  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain breads
  • Greens (kale, broccoli, etc)
  • Fruit
  • Dates

Liquids

  • Water
  • Kombucha
  • Non-Caffeinated Tea

Things to Avoid: Caffeine, sugar, and heavily processed foods.

Exercise

During our follicular phase, we may feel inspired to take it all in, and do it all, too. If you wish to amp up your workout, workload, or general productivity, now is the time to do it.

Rest

Resting the mind and body is an instrumental form of self-care. However, integrating rest into your routine during your follicular phase may be difficult, as the body is urging you to build, build, build. Rest may even seem self-sabotaging, instead of caring. But there is a point to this. Create a balance, big or small, and commit to it.

The Luteal Phase

Ovulation to Menstruation

This phase begins after ovulation, and continues until your next period, or day 1 of your cycle.

The luteal phase prepares us for either pregnancy, or our next menstrual bleed. Progesterone levels rise during this time. This hormone stimulates uterine action that prepares our body for pregnancy, and initiates the release of special proteins to create a nourishing environment for the egg that was released during ovulation. Regardless of whether the egg is fertilized, this preparative process will still occur.

As with the follicular phase, increased blood flow is prominent, and the uterus will continue to grow in size, and retain fluid. If no conception has occurred, our uterine lining will remain strong and dense until its next shed, and the cycle will repeat.

By caring for and aiding our body during this time, we may curate a calm and pleasurable menstruation period.

Caring for Your Body during this Phase

Simple acts of self-care can enhance your experience in the present, as well as throughout the rest of your cycle. Remember, this isn’t just a period of preparation, it is an experience and phase of its own.

Your Diet

Your diet will greatly impact your experience, as well as the effectiveness of your luteal period. Here, your body has a higher need for fats, fibers, and liquids. Being sure to include B vitamins, and monitoring your iron and calcium intake is important as well.

By consciously tapering your diet, you and your health may reap the rejuvinatize benefits of this time.

Foods for Your Luteal Period

Fats

  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Nuts & nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Oil (olive, avocado, and coconut)

Fibers

  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain breads
  • Greens (kale, broccoli, etc)
  • Fruit
  • Dates

Liquids

  • Water
  • Kombucha
  • Non-Caffeinated Tea

Things to Avoid: Caffeine, sugar, and heavily processed foods.

Exercise

During our luteal phase, we are called to tune into our inner-world. Mindful stretching and breathing techniques are a wonderful start to any self-care regimen. Vinyasa yoga, particularly, would be a great practice to begin. It focuses us on ourselves, and our bodies. It shows us their strength, and reminds us of our ability to persist, just as our cycle does.

Rest

Here, our body is in preservation mode. Rest will come naturally to us, but still, we may resist. It may be because we feel tired, slow, or just not like ourselves. And we will want to fight this. But this is of a higher notion. Coming back to rest, to simply be with the self, is necessary. Your body is calling you to rejuvenate. Listen.

Your Body is Calling You

Through introspection, we may activate a higher level of experience and love for our cycle. By documenting and feeling-out our follicular and luteal phases, we are providing ourselves with the care and attention we need.

Through this knowledge, we may heal. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s