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What is a Period, Hormonally Speaking?

Jun 23, 2024

Asking for a friend…

But seriously…let’s be honest.  How many of you actually know what the heck happens in a period?  Like where is the blood from? What causes the egg to be released?  Is an egg always released? What causes you to bleed?  

Hey there! ๐ŸŒธ Dr. Kelly Sadauckas here (said-OW-skiss, thanks for asking), one of a handful of Double Board Certified Doctors of Physical Therapy IN THE WORLD, and YOUR go-to pelvic health expert. Today, we're diving into the mysterious world of periods—hormones, cycles, and all that jazz. Let's break it down in a way that doesn't require a PhD to understand.

 

What the Heck is a Period, Hormonally Speaking?

Ever wondered what's going on inside during that time of the month? I've got the scoop, minus the confusing medical jargon. Buckle up!

 

Meet the Royal Hormones:

Queen Estrogen

She's the queen bee, responsible for all things traditionally feminine. From developing body parts (boobs and labias) to prepping for potential pregnancy, estrogen is the MVP.

Lady Progesterone

This lady is all about preparing the uterus for a possible baby. Too much or too little can mess with your mood and cycle.

Dame Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

No, it's not "damn" luteinizing hormone; it's DAME LH! She's in charge of helping the biggest egg ripen into the Dominant Follicle, which will either become an embryo or join your period party.

Duchess Follicular Stimulating Hormone

This one tells the ovaries to start prepping eggs for the next cycle. The show must go on!

 

How Period Hormones Control the Monthly Flow:

I've crafted a masterpiece—a graph to show you the hormonal dance during a menstrual cycle. Yes, autographs will be available later.

 

The Phases of the Menstrual Cycle:

Menstrual Phase (The Bleedy Phase)

When a fertilized egg is not implanted into your endometrium (lining of your uterus), your body releases chemicals, as well as actually contracts the uterus, to shed the unused uterine lining. That shedding of the lining is your monthly flow, and the only symptom of your period should be 3-4 days of moderate bleeding.  Periods should not hurt. Truth. If they hurt, seek help. If you miss school or work due to period pain, talk to a medical provider about possible endometriosis.

 

After Your Period, Before Ovulation: The "Follicular Phase"

After your bleeds phase, the cycle repeats with "the follicular phase". In this phase, the ovaries (parts that hold our eggs) gear up, and a few follicles (immature eggs) enlarge.  The uterus, meanwhile, immediately begins to prep for a potential future egg implantation by building up the endometrial lining again.

 

Ovulation (the egg is released) 

At the end of the follicular phase, Luteinizing Hormone (LH) triggers the release of the dominant follicle (the biggest, most perfect follicle all the ones that were growing)—and that event is ovulation!

Here it is, in visual form…

Meanwhile, at time of ovulation, the egg works it's way through a fallopian tube to the uterus (doesn't have to be on the same side as where the egg was released!), which is ready with a plush welcome mat of endometrial tissue.   

After Ovulation, Pre-Menstruation

If the egg isn't fertilized, the body releases prostaglandins--chemicals to stimulate uterine contractions and shedding of lining.  This cues menstruation, and the cycle repeats.

 

But what if the egg is fertilized?

If you're playing the baby-making game, and the egg is fertilized, the prostaglandins take a break, and the menstrual phase gets a rain check. Hormones of pregnancy become the stars of the show...but those are for another post :) 

Understand That Period Hormones Matter...& That Periods Are SUPPOSED to be Painfree!

Understanding these hormones gives you the keys to decode what your body is up to. It's like having a cheat sheet for your monthly cycle. 

Now that you've got the lowdown on periods, did you know they're supposed to be pain-free? Yep, it's possible! But what about Endo? The Pill? Menopause? We'll tackle those topics in future posts because, let's face it, they deserve their spotlight.

Explore my website, join my mailing list via the form below, or slide into my Insta for more fantastic, free tips on pelvic wellness. For a deeper dive, work with me in person or online, or check out my online programs designed just for you. From leaks to prolapse to poops, I've got a course that might just change your life. And remember, once purchased, all Pelvic Floored Courses are seamlessly streamable between your computer, phone and tablet via the FREE Kajabi app (Blue K, wherever you get your apps), so world class pelvic health information and exercises are never more than a single click away.

 Cheers to demystifying periods & pelvises! ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ’ช

xoxo, Dr. Kelly ๐Ÿ˜Š

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