Do you know when to expect your period after ovulation? For many women, the menstrual cycle can be confusing and complex. But simply put the menstrual cycle is the monthly cycle of changes that occur within the ovaries and uterine lining as your body prepares for fertilization. There are various cues your body uses throughout your monthly cycle to make you aware of the shifts in your fertility. Knowing how to interpret these changes can help you become better at predicting your cycle and having a better understanding of your body.
The Follicular Phase
Your follicular phase is responsible for the growth and maturation of eggs for the fertilization process. It is also commonly known as the proliferative phase. It is during this phase that the follicles in your ovaries are preparing for ovulation. The first day of your period is when the follicular phase begins. The hypothalamus secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in the ovaries to encourage the growth of 5-20 follicles. These follicles can be described as tiny nodules or cysts. However, as estrogen levels rise FSH tapers down to encourage the dominance of one primary follicle. Once a dominant follicle is established it continues maturing and producing estrogen to further inhibit the growth of other follicles.
Typically the follicular phases last around 16 days. Yet, it is not uncommon for it to last anywhere between 11 to 27 days. The length of the follicular phase will vary from person to person.
The Ovulation Phase
Your ovulatory phase serves one main purpose which is to release an egg from one of the ovaries in order for it to become fertilized. For the majority of women, ovulation takes place 12-16 days before your period starts. For example, if you are on a 28-day cycle ovulation should occur on day 14 of your cycle. Yet due to the fact that every woman’s menstrual cycle is unique the time that you ovulate may vary due to your cycle length.
The ovulation phase can be split up into two distinct sub-phases. Firstly, there is the ovulatory phase in which luteinizing hormone increases in order to prompt follicles in the ovary to release the egg. Once the egg is released it begins it’s descent down the fallopian tube to be fertilized. This phase lasts for a period of 24-48 hours and is considered to be your fertile window. Secondly, once the egg is released the post-ovulatory phase begins. This is the time when one of two things will occur. Either the egg has become fertilized in which it will continue it’s descent down the fallopian tube to implant on the uterine wall. Or the egg is not fertilized and it begins to dissolve over a 24-hour period. Learning to track fertile signs such as cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and your unique cycle length can help you identify when you ovulate.
If you’re tracking cervical mucus to identify when you’re approaching ovulation as well as when ovulation has occurred. You will notice that your cervical mucus will become thick, stretchy and clear. It is common for fertile cervical mucus to have an egg-white consistency. This increase in the cervical fluid is due to elevated estrogen levels.
Basal Body Temperature
Observing and tracking your basal body temperature can help you predict ovulation as well as let you know when ovulation has occurred. On the day of ovulation, you may experience a dip in BBT. This is followed by a 0.2 increase in temperature 1-2 days post ovulation. Consequently, your BBT will remain elevated until you begin your period. In addition to using the BBT method, you may find it more helpful to combine the cervical mucus method and BBT method. This can help you identify fertility, ovulation, and when to expect your period.
When it comes to cycle length this varies from woman to woman. The cycle length can be anywhere from 28-32 days which means that the exact date of ovulation will look different for everyone. Ovulation typically occurs 12-16 days before menstruation. So, spending time tracking your cycle over a 6-month period will help you to uncover your cycle length, and when ovulation typically occurs for you. Both of these are beneficial when tracking your cycle.
The Luteal Phase
After ovulation comes to an end the luteal phase begins. This phase of the menstrual cycle serves the purpose of preparing the uterus for pregnancy. On average the luteal phase lasts for 10-14 days and is commonly referred to as the premenstrual phase. It is at this time that progesterone and estrogen work together to thicken the uterine lining to prepare for implantation of a fertilized egg.
As this is happening the egg is making its way down the fallopian tube to the uterus. If the egg has been fertilized it will implant on the uterus. Whereas an unfertilized egg will travel through the uterus and dissolve. At this time estrogen and progesterone levels begin to decrease. This change in hormones can trigger symptoms commonly known as premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
Symptoms you may notice include:
- Water weight gain
- Sleep Complications
- Appetite changes
- Acne, breakouts
- Breast tenderness
- Lack of focus
- Increased sadness
- Mood changes
Your BBT will remain elevated whereas cervical mucus will become drier and more sticky and you may not notice any cervical mucus at all. When progesterone decreases your BBT will decline and thus menstruation begins.
It’s during this time that hormone-like secretions known as prostaglandins are released. Prostaglandins are responsible for triggering the uterus to contract. This aids in the break down of endometrial tissue and encourages it to shed and leave the body. The shed tissue will exit and flow out of the body through the vagina resulting in menstrual flow. Consequently, your menstrual flow will vary during your monthly period. You may notice that it starts off heavy and progresses to a light flow or vice versa. Common symptoms experienced during that time of the month are:
- Pelvic cramping
- Low back pain
- Bowel upset (diarrhea, constipation)
- Breast tenderness
- Mood changes
On average you can expect your period to last anywhere from 2 to 7 days. It is important to note that period length varies from woman to woman.
Why It Matters
Being able to understand what is happening in your body during each unique phase of the menstrual cycle is beneficial for three main reasons. Those reasons are tracking your period, increasing awareness of fertility, and identifying potential menstrual health issues. Additionally, there are a variety of methods and ways you can track your periods and monitor your fertility throughout your monthly cycle naturally. Natural family planning methods such as the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) focus on you tracking and monitoring your fertility throughout your monthly cycle.
Other options for tracking and monitoring your period include the use of period tracker apps such as Flo, Clue, and Kindara. These apps are designed to teach you more about how to properly track your period, educate you about your menstrual cycle, and increase your awareness regarding your fertility. Whichever option you choose for your menstrual health sticking to that method for a period of 6 months and longer will help you learn more about how to properly track as well as learn more about your body.
About the Author.
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I am an Esthetician, Lifestyle Wellness Coach, Content Creator, and Writer. My intention is to provide you with education and awareness about women’s health, nutrition, fitness, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. I primarily help women that are seeking holistic and natural solutions to managing their chronic condition, improving their lifestyle and combating anti-aging concerns. I offer coaching programs and courses that are designed to help you redefine your health and defy aging. You can find my content on a variety of social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!
Join My Email List!
Receive my FREE Course The Beginners Guide to Anti-Aging and get my blog posts delivered directly to your inbox.