If you are reading this then you are already on your way to becoming a more understanding, insightful partner, father, brother, friend! Bless you!
It is so important for your lady to know about her body and her cycle and even better if you are in on it too.
This can help increase closeness, understanding, and empathy between you and the women in your life. It is so important to know this and have these conversations with your wife, but even cooler if you too can be an informational encouraging source for your daughters! Ask questions, be curious, and be encouraging as you walk this road with the women in your life.
There are four phases to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Yes, it is so much more than bleeding for a few days once a month!
Follicular phase – also known as spring or pre-ovulation:
- hormones increase to create a follicle that can be matured to an egg
- rise in the level of estrogen. The hypothalamus in the brain recognizes these rising levels and releases a chemical called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
Ovulation – also known as summer:
- the egg bursts from its follicle and starts to travel into the fallopian tube
- the ruptured follicle stays on the surface of the ovary and will eventually help to produce progesterone which helps the uterus prepare for fertilization
Luteal phase – also known as fall or premenstrual:
- If there is no fertilization of the egg the body will prepare to shed the thick uterine wall.
- For the next two weeks or so, the follicle transforms into a structure known as the corpus luteum. This structure starts releasing progesterone, along with small amounts of estrogen.
Menstruation – Winter:
- thickened uterine wall (endometrium) is shedding (bleeding lasts for 5-7 days)
This all probably sounds pretty clinical like you might have googled this or learned about this in a biology class in high school, but here are some more practical things you can do for the women in your life during their cycles.
In the follicular phase (spring or pre-ovulation) women’s bodies are preparing for ovulation, this phase will last about 10 -17 days of the cycle. As our bodies prepare for summer/ovulation we increase in positive attitudes and are full of energy and new ideas. This is a great time to plan fun activities to do together and to engage in more creative experiences like planning a trip or buying new furniture.
In the next phase ovulation (summer) which lasts about 12 hours. Ovulation is when woman can feel more outward energy and more creative and have the highest sexual libido, because it is the most fertile time. It is super helpful for you to be aware of when this time is for your lady especially if you are family planning. You can help your wife with tracking with apps or a calendar in your bathroom or a linked google calendar. It would be fun to plan an active date night around this time because energy is higher.
The third phase of the cycle is luteal phase (fall or premenstrual), lasting about 14 days. Fall or luteal phase is the time when women can become more inward and reflective and be able to clarify their needs better.
As the man in their life it would be helpful to be aware that this is a more introspective time and you might find women in this phase reading or journaling more or able to express needs clearer than other times. You can encourage her with love and compassion to share what she is learning about herself, life and relationship with God during this time as she gains more inward energy. Towards the end of this phase your lady might experience premenstrual symptoms (PMS). This is NOT the time to ask if she is starting soon or make any negative reference to her womanhood. This is a great time to reach out in a caring way. Have conversation with your lady about what is helpful in alleviating her pain or irritability. Practice good active listening and trust her understanding of her body and needs.
Some PMS symptoms include:
- Tension or anxiety
- Depressed mood
- Crying spells
- Mood swings and irritability or anger
- Appetite changes and food cravings
- Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
- Social withdrawal
- Poor concentration
- Change in libido
- Joint or muscle pain
- Weight gain related to fluid retention
- Abdominal bloating
- Breast tenderness
- Acne flare-ups
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Alcohol intolerance
The final phase is menstruation (winter) this phase lasts about 5-7 days. Usually the first few days of this cycle can be more painful and the heaviest bleeding can occur. Her body is literally shedding the old, this is a time for her to listen to her body’s needs and rest. You can be helpful in encouraging her to listen to what her body needs and helping her ask for those needs such as a morning off work, a lighter workout than usual, or more help with the kids. Encourage her to journal and discover for herself if there is anything that she needs to also shed along with her uterine lining. Most importantly be supportive as her body does an absolutely amazing God designed process!
*bonus: become familiar with feminine products and what the ladies in your life prefer.
It is very important to note that all women are different and so are their bodies! It is important to start a conversation with your lady about her cycle. Start to create space for a conversation by saying something like,
“I have been reading that it could be helpful for me to know what phase of your menstrual cycle you are in so that I may care for you better. God designed this amazing process for your body to transition through every month, and I would like to be a supportive role in that for you.”
She might not even know what phase she is in or what that means for her. Encourage her to research on her own and find out for herself so that she can discover and teach you what would be most helpful for her.
This does not need to be perfect, the fact that you are creating openness around this topic in a caring way will be well worth it. By becoming a team in this area you are undoing her aloneness and your own!
So, no pressure! Have fun learning together!