Follicular vs. Luteal Phase: What’s the Difference?
Your menstrual cycle occurs around the same time every month. You may have noticed that your menstrual cycle aligns with the moon. A full moon occurs around the 14th of each month. A waning moon occurs on the 1st of each month. This reflects your menstrual cycle. The luteal phase of your menstrual cycle aligns with the waning moon. The follicular phase of your menstrual cycle aligns with a full moon. Read on to learn more about the difference between follicular vs luteal phase.
What are Follicular and Luteal Phases
The follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle are the two major phases of the reproductive cycle in women. During the follicular phase, the lining of the uterus begins to develop in preparation for a potential pregnancy, and estrogen levels begin to increase.
As the follicular phase progresses, the egg begins to mature, and at its peak, ovulation occurs. Following ovulation, the luteal phase begins.
During this phase, which loses the body begins to prepare for a potential pregnancy. Progesterone levels increase, and the uterus is ready to accept a fertilized egg should it occur.
During this time, the uterine lining thickens and increases in blood flow. If pregnancy does not take place, the uterine lining begins to be shed, and the cycle begins again.
The Role of Estrogen and Progesterone During Each Phase
Estrogen and progesterone play an important role in the menstrual cycle, as they regulate the body’s reproductive cycles, production of hormones, and sexual and reproductive development.
During the follicular phase, estrogen is created in the ovaries, preparing the uterus to receive a fertilized egg. It stimulates the development of ovarian follicles, regulates the release of pituitary hormones, and encourages the uterine lining to thicken.
At the end of the follicular phase, the levels of estrogen peak and cause the release of an egg, which then travels through the fallopian tubes in the ovulation phase.
Length of Cycle and Length of Each Phase
A menstrual cycle is typically 28 days in length but can vary from every 21 to 35 days. It’s also divided into two phases: the follicular phase and luteal phase.
The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and lasts for about 10-14 days (depending on the length of your menstrual cycle). During this period, your follicles mature, and the lining of your uterus starts to thicken.
The luteal phase is the second half of the cycle and typically lasts for 14 days. During this period, the ovulated egg is released, and the lining of the uterus continues to thicken so that it’s ready to nourish a fertilized egg if one is present.
If pregnancy doesn’t occur, then you are dealing with PMS.
Distinguishing Symptoms During Each Cycle Phase
During a woman’s monthly cycle, her period craving foods can vary by phase. During the follicular phase, cravings may focus on comfort foods such as chocolate, ice cream, and baked goods that provide a sense of pleasure and satisfaction.
During ovulation, the estrogen surge may encourage the consumption of salty, crunchy snacks and high-sugar sodas and juices, as well as protein-rich meat and cheese products.
All About the Differences Between Follicular vs Luteal Phase
It’s also important to understand that follicular vs luteal phase can be affected by various factors like diets, medications, health/fitness, hormones, and overall well-being.
Keeping track of our cycles, tracking our symptoms, and talking to a healthcare provider can help us understand our bodies better and keep us healthy. Start understanding your body better!
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