Let’s talk about periods. Those who have a uterus will know that periods are just a fact of life for us. There is no period that will be similar between people, symptoms, duration, emotional experiences, and pain can be experienced in all different ways. Research will say that the average menstruation length is 28 days. Conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis can change how long your period lasts for and the duration of the entire menstrual cycle.
Your menstrual cycle goes through phases, which are dictated by the hormone’s oestrogen and progesterone. Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring our cycles together; the phases of each cycle, how the hormones affect our bodies and how we can tailor exercise around each of these phases.
To begin with let’s start with what hormones make this cycle flow. Oestrogen and progesterone influence what phase of our cycles we are in each month. Oestrogen is sex hormone produced in the ovaries, responsible for the regulation of the female reproductive system.
There are 3 major oestrogens in the body – E1 (estrone), E2 (estradiol)& E3 (estriol). E2 is the most potent and prevalent. In the body oestrogen affects us by:
- Increasing muscle mass and strength
- Speed of muscle regeneration
- Bone density regeneration
- Increasing collagen content on connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments
- Decreases the stiffness of tendons in women which means they are more prone to ligament injuries.
- Induces release of luteinizing hormone that triggers ovulation.
- Development of breasts & widening of hips
Progesterone is produced by the adrenal glands and ovaries. It’s known as the pregnancy hormone. During the menstrual cycle progesterone leads to
- Thickening of the uterine lining (known as the endometrium) preparing the uterus for a baby.
- New capillaries growth leading to increases in blood flow to the uterine lining.
Over the next weeks we will investigate the roles of oestrogen and progesterone in our cycles and the effects they have on our body. You now have the baseline knowledge required to get a further understanding of your cycle!
Until next time!