How to get cycle savvy

I’ve always tried to push my clients to be aware of what’s going on with their fertility, and particularly tried to help them learn how to understand their menstrual cycles. When you’ve been on the Pill since you were 16 and don’t come off it until your mid-30s, it is very hard to know what a normal cycle is! Sometimes, it just takes getting to grips with the facts to make things clearer and easier. Having even a basic understanding of a natural cycle can optimise your chances of conceiving naturally or, if you go down the IVF route, help you understand what is happening both naturally and artificially in the cycle.  

So how can you become cycle savvy? Start by going back to basics and asking the most simple questions.

Q: What is the menstrual cycle?

A: The menstrual cycle is a complex interplay of hormone that have to be in balance each cycle so that an egg can be matured, released and fertilised.

Q: What factors can affect it?

A: Weight, stress, medication and diet can all affect the menstrual cycle, causing periods to become irregular or stop altogether.

Q: How long does it normally last?  

A: Between 24-35 days or more, but cycles may become shorter as you get older.

Q: When does the menstrual cycle start?

A: Now this is the part that many women get confused about.The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of a woman’s period, but this does not mean the first time you get slight blood spotting. The first day of the cycle is the first day of the fresh, red bleed. Any spotting belongs to the end of the previous cycle.

Q: What happens during and after period?

A: A woman’s period tends to last between 2 and 6 days, sometimes longer. After that, most women will be aware of a time when they feel quite dry at the vaginal lips. During this part of the cycle, the cervix is tightly closed with a sticky plug of secretions that prevents sperm from getting through. When the woman no longer feels dry, she may become aware of a slight stickiness or a see a white or opaque secretion. These secretions nourish the sperm, forming channels to swim up and allowing some strong sperm to potentially get through at this stage.

If you’ve got questions about your own cycle, then get in touch!

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