The Menstrual Cycle: An Overview
Wednesday, 14th August 2013
The Yin and Yang of the Menstrual Cycle
It’s surprising how may of us women have very little idea of how the menstrual cycle works. Although after years on the pill and being told “if you have unprotected sex, you will get pregnant” maybe its not so surprising after all…
In Chinese Medicine we break the menstrual cycle down into two halves and four phases.
The two halves of the cycle are as in western medicine, i.e. from the first day of bleeding (day 1) until ovulation is known as the follicular phase and is said to be the Yin half of the cycle. Yin essence is the feminine, cool, moistening energy in the body. It’s incredibly important in creating the slippery fluids involved in conception, nourishing the developing follicles and keeping the sperm alive on their journey to the egg.
From ovulation until the following day 1 is the luteal phase and is said to be the the yang half of the cycle. Yang essence is the masculine, warming strengthening energy in the body. It has the same function as progesterone in the sense that it keeps the body’s temperatures high, creating the perfect incubator for the developing embryo and secures the uterus preventing miscarriage.
These halves are further broken down into 4 phases.
Phase One is all about blood. It’s when the sloughing off of the emdometrium occurs, the period itself. This is where the body is clearing out the old to make way for the new, where the Yin essence is starting to build.
Phase Two is the continuation of Yin essence building. It’s where the endometrium regenerates and the follicles develop. At the end of this phase we should start to see the cervical mucus become more fertile (clear and stretchy).
Phase Three is the switch from Yin to Yang, ovulation. The Yin essence reaches is maximum (positive OPK test), ovulation occurs and the Yang essence takes over.
If you are trying to conceive ideally there would be lots of healthy sperm waiting for the released egg to enter the fallopian tube, conception occurs and the newly formed embryo makes its way down the fallopian tube to the uterus.
Phase Four is the continuation of Yang essence building. If you are trying to conceive implantation occurs sometime at the beginning of this phase and the warm yang energy nourishes and supports conception.
Ideally this happens over a 28 day cycle. Phase one being day 1-4, phase two being day 5-11, phase 3 being day 12-16 and phase four being day 17-28. Please note if you do not have a 27-29 day cycle the days will need to be adjusted to fit your cycle.
Over the next few posts we will go into more detail of each of the phases with things to look out for and a few diet and lifestyle suggestions.