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4 hormones that make your menstrual cycle regular or irregular

Hormones during your periods control your monthly cycle and overall menstrual health. Read on to learn about those 4 hormones and their impact.
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Hormones during the period play a vital role! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Team Health Shots Updated: 10 Jan 2024, 01:53 pm IST
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Hormones are like a puzzle that is not easy to understand. Each hormone is connected to something else and impacts a woman’s body, especially the menstrual cycle. The cycle starts with the first day of your period and ends when your next period begins. The cycle, on average, typically spans 25–35 days. Despite regular periods, the duration of your period cycle may vary from woman to woman. The hormones during periods fluctuate in each phase of the menstrual cycle and can influence not only the body but also the mind and overall menstrual health in several ways. So, we are here to help you understand how they work!

How many period phases are there?

There are 4 phases of the menstrual cycle, each associated with the secretion of specific hormones and performing distinct functions.

1. Follicular phase

The first phase is the follicular phase, starting on the first day of the period and lasting until the end of ovulation (13–15 days). During this phase, stimulating hormones are released from the pituitary gland follicle, aiding in egg production. Estrogen hormones are also released to rebuild the uterine lining.

Also read: Hormonal imbalance symptoms in women: Signs you must know

2. Period phase

The second phase is the period phase, beginning on the first day and continuing until the period flow stops. The body sheds the uterine lining, leading to decreased estrogen and progesterone levels, causing low energy and mood swings. Following this, the uterus regenerates its lining, and the ovaries produce follicles containing eggs.

Menstrual cup with period blood
Hormones impact your menstrual cycle. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Ovulation phase

The third phase is the ovulation phase, happening around 13–15 days when an egg is released from the uterus for potential fertilisation. Estrogen levels peak just before the egg release, signaling a surge of luteinising hormone. Women often feel most energetic and positive during this brief period.

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4. Luteal phase

The fourth phase is the luteal phase, following ovulation and continuing until the next period. The released egg follicles transform into the corpus luteum, producing estrogen and progesterone. If the egg is fertilised, progesterone supports pregnancy, otherwise, the uterine lining breaks down in preparation for the next period. This cycle repeats with each menstrual cycle.

Here are 4 hormones involved in the menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is a complex and regulated process that occurs in females of reproductive age. It involves a series of hormonal changes that are a result of 4 main hormones during period: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, luteinising hormone (LH), and progesterone.

1. Follicular stimulating hormone (FSH)

FSH plays a crucial role in the menstrual cycle. Released by the pituitary gland, this hormone stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles, each containing an immature egg. As menstruation begins, FSH levels rise, promoting follicle development. This process triggers estrogen production, preparing the uterus for a potential pregnancy. Ultimately, elevated FSH levels contribute to ovulation, releasing a mature egg for fertilisation. If conception doesn’t occur, FSH levels decrease, initiating the next menstrual cycle. Any kind of abnormality in this hormone causes infertility in men or women.

2. Oestrogen

During the follicular phase, rising oestrogen levels stimulate the thickening of the uterine lining, preparing it for a potential pregnancy. This hormone also promotes the maturation of eggs in the ovaries. As menstruation approaches, a drop in estrogen triggers the release of an egg and initiates the luteal phase. If fertilisation doesn’t occur, declining oestrogen leads to the shedding of the uterine lining, marking the onset of menstruation. These changes caused by oestrogen have an influence on your fertility and reproductive health.

Balance out your estrogen levels to stay healthy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Luteinising hormone

Luteinising hormone (LH) plays a crucial role in the menstrual cycle. Released by the pituitary gland, LH stimulates the ovarian follicles to produce oestrogen, essential for egg maturation. A surge in LH triggers ovulation, releasing the mature egg from the follicle. This surge is a key marker for the fertile window. Following ovulation, LH contributes to the formation of the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone, supporting the uterine lining for potential implantation. Understanding LH patterns is vital for fertility tracking and contraception. Any disruption in LH levels can impact ovulation, influencing menstrual regularity and fertility.

Also read: Estrogen is an important hormone, but its dominance can be cancerous too

4. Progesterone

Progesterone is a vital hormone during periods, playing a crucial role in the menstrual cycle, especially during the luteal phase. Released by the ovaries after ovulation, it prepares the uterine lining for potential embryo implantation. If fertilisation doesn’t occur, progesterone levels drop, triggering menstruation. This hormone helps regulate the menstrual cycle, maintaining the endometrial lining for a possible pregnancy. Additionally, progesterone influences mood and can cause premenstrual symptoms. It also has an impact on your fertility, impacting both reproductive tissues and emotional well-being during the menstrual cycle.

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