The menstrual cycle : a reflection of a woman's health

Abnormalities in the cycle can go unnoticed as they can be observed with close attention to signs of the body, throughout the menstrual cycle.

 

The sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) involved in the menstrual cycle are also involved in other functions of the human body (DEMERS, 2008-2009). As a result, certain abnormalities in the cycle could reveal more general health problems or be indicative of a predisposition to certain diseases.

Abnormalities in the cycle can go unnoticed as they can be observed with close attention to signs of the body, throughout the menstrual cycle. The signs that make it possible to identify an imbalance or a hormonal deficiency are, among others, cervical mucus, the cervix and basal temperature, since estrogen and progesterone influence their characteristics (PARENTEAU, 2020).

The symptothermal method offers observation and daily scoring of these signs of fertility. Thanks to the graph used with the method, it is possible to relate these signs to distinguish the different phases of the menstrual cycle (Knight, 2017) and to identify any temporary or permanent abnormalities of the cycle.

The menstrual cycle begins on the first day of menstruation. In general, an average of 4 to 6 days of menstrual flow is observed (PARENTEAU, 2020).

Then begins the follicular phase. The cycle continues with 3 to 5 days without mucus and with a feeling of dryness in the vulva, but this is variable depending on the length of the cycle.

The increase in estrogen production by the follicles, the envelopes containing the eggs, will be observed by 5 to 6 days of cervical mucus progressing to a feeling of lubrication and transparency (PARENTEAU, 2020).

When there is sufficient estrogen, the pituitary gland, located in the brain, secretes luteinizing hormone (LH), which works to complete the maturation of the follicle. When it has reached maturity, it releases the egg it contains, this is called ovulation.

Then, the cycle ends with the luteal phase which normally lasts 12 to 16 days and which is marked by the rise in temperature and the regression of the fertile characteristics of the mucus and the cervix. At this phase of the cycle, it is progesterone, produced by the ovarian follicle transformed into the corpus luteum, which is secreted gradually, and then decreases to the point of triggering the next menstruation (PARENTEAU, 2020).

A cycle that does not fit this description could indicate an endocrine dysfunction and could affect the health of the woman. For example, progesterone insufficiency characterized, among other things, by a luteal phase of less than 10 days may be a risk factor for osteoporosis (PARENTEAU, 2020).

To restore hormonal balance, some lifestyle changes may suffice. Among these are stopping smoking, good stress management, having a healthy weight due to a healthy diet, taking Omega 3, vitamin E (PARENTEAU, 2020).

Also, several health professionals can help support the body in its functions. It is important to listen to your menstrual cycle and to consider the abnormalities encountered, because sex hormones are responsible for the proper functioning of the reproductive system, but are also necessary for bone, cardiovascular and brain health (DEMERS, 2008 -2009).

 

Knight, Jane. 2017 (Nov. 21 2016). The Complete guide to Fertility Awareness. London Routledge

Parenteau, Suzanne Dre. 2020. La fertilité apprivoisée. Candiac : Marcel Broquet Éditeur

Demers, Sylvie. 2008-2009. Hormones au féminin : Repensez votre santé. Les Éditions de l’Homme.