The life of your cycle

The life of your cycle

The average woman will have her period 450 times during her lifetime. How well do you really understand it?

Your cycle begins on the first day of your period and usually lasts 28 days, although anything from 21-35 days is

The cycle is split into two phases:

  • Follicular phase: from the first day of your period until you ovulate.
  • Luteal phase: from when the egg is released until your new cycle begins.

DID YOU KNOW: On average, a woman loses around 1 000 eggs a month!

At the start of your cycle, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is produced by the pituitary gland, which stimulates
the ovaries into producing a mature egg. The hormone encourages 15-20 follicles – fluid-filled cavities
in your ovaries that each contain an egg – to develop and produce the hormone oestrogen. Eventually, one follicle becomes the dominant, mature follicle, while the others disintegrate and are reabsorbed into your body.


As levels of oestrogen increase in your cycle between days 3 and 9, your mood will be great and you’ll have lots of energy.

DID YOU KNOW: Oestrogen is responsible for thickening the lining in your uterus with blood and nutrients.

When the egg matures, it breaks out of the follicle and ovary, and enters the fallopian tube. This is ovulation and it can be marked by light spotting or pink mucus from the egg’s eruption, or a slight pain in one side of the abdomen, depending on which ovary the egg is released from.

Just before ovulation, between days 10 and 13, oestrogen levels peak and you’ll feel your best. Go out, have fun or get things done.

DID YOU KNOW: Sperm can live for 3-5 days under the right conditions in the fallopian tubes, making you most fertile during the days leading up to ovulation.

As soon as you ovulate, the follicle that released the egg produces progesterone, which aids the oestrogen in thickening the uterus wall in preparation for the fertilised egg. These two hormones can cause the onset of premenstrual tension (PMS), which tends to affect women a few days before their period starts. Symptoms can vary from sensitive or tender breasts and bloating to lethargy, depression and moodiness.


Once released from the ovary, the egg is viable for 12-24 hours. If intercourse has taken place a few days before or on the day of ovulation, the egg can be fertilised by sperm cells inside the fallopian tube before travelling to the uterus and attaching itself to the uterine lining.

Tip: The drop in oestrogen makes you feel tired for the first three days of your period. You’ll have a lower pain
threshold too so don’t book any treatments like waxing. Boost your mood by doing gentle exercise to lift endorphins
and produce serotonin.

Want to track your cycle?

We love using Flo – this app not only tracks your cycle and ovulation, but it can also sync to your Fitbit to track your health, monitor your moods and any PMS symptoms. It’s also full of wisdom and offers nuggets of information based on your daily log.

Feature: Taryn Das Neves and photo from

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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