When it comes to your period, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there. For starters, your period is not just “that time of the month.” In fact, it’s a complex biological process that happens in three phases: the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. During the follicular phase, the lining of the uterus thickens in preparation for a possible pregnancy. Then, during ovulation, an egg is released from one of the ovaries. Finally, during the luteal phase, the uterus prepares for either a pregnancy or menstruation.
So what exactly is menstruation? Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining, which occurs when a woman’s body prepares for pregnancy. Every month, the uterus builds up a thick layer of tissue to support a fertilized egg. If no egg is fertilized, the body does not need this extra tissue, and it is shed through the vagina.
The average menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days, but it can vary from woman to woman. Some women experience PMS (premenstrual syndrome) in the days leading up to their period, which can include symptoms such as mood swings, bloating, and fatigue. Menstruation can be a nuisance for some women, but it is also a natural and necessary process.
The menstrual cycle is a natural process that occurs in women of reproductive age, typically between the ages of 11 and 55.
It is regulated by hormones produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands, and pituitary gland which are all located in the endocrine system.
Hormones play a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle as they work together to control when an egg will be released from the ovary (ovulation), how thick or thin your uterine lining will become (endometrial thickness) and whether or not you have any symptoms associated with your period such as cramps or bloating (premenstrual syndrome).
Understanding how these hormones affect your menstrual cycle can help with understanding and managing common health conditions related to menstruation such as amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis and more.
In addition to helping manage health issues related to menstruation hormones also play an important role in fertility so it’s important for those who may be trying to conceive to gain insight into their hormonal balance.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system and play a critical role in regulating bodily processes.
They are released from specialized glands, such as the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal glands and ovaries, into the bloodstream to travel to different parts of the body.
The endocrine system is responsible for producing hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function and more.
There are many different hormones in the body with specific functions such as estrogen which helps control fertility cycles; progesterone which works with estrogen during pregnancy; testosterone which is important for male reproductive health; cortisol which helps manage stress levels; and insulin which regulates blood sugar levels.
By understanding how these hormones work together within our bodies we can better understand our menstrual cycle and its potential disruptions or changes due to fluctuations in hormone production.
Hormones involved in the menstrual cycle
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain.
It plays an essential role in regulating and stimulating reproductive processes, specifically those that occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
During the first half of the menstrual cycle (the follicular phase), FSH levels increase to stimulate and accelerate development of ovarian follicles.
Each follicle contains an egg which has been released from one of two ovaries; this process is known as oogenesis.
As multiple follicles continue to mature under FSH stimulation, only one will reach full maturity and release its egg into the fallopian tube.
This event marks ovulation, when conception is most likely to occur if sperm are present in the uterus or cervix.
In addition to its role in ovulation, FSH stimulates production of estrogen hormones which play an important part in preparing uterine lining for pregnancy should it occur during this menstrual cycle; this includes thickening uterine walls and increasing blood supply for potential implantation and nourishment for embryo growth if fertilization does take place.
Luteinizing hormone (LH)
The luteinizing hormone (LH) is produced by the pituitary gland, a small but important structure located in the brain.
LH has two primary functions related to the menstrual cycle: it triggers ovulation and stimulates progesterone production.
When LH levels increase during menstruation, it causes an egg to be released from a mature follicle in the ovary.
After ovulation takes place, LH also encourages the formation of a temporary structure called the corpus luteum within the ovary.
The corpus luteum then produces progesterone, which helps prepare for pregnancy if conception occurs or is essential for regulating your cycle if no pregnancy happens.
It is produced by both the ovaries and corpus luteum during the follicular phase of each menstrual cycle.
Estrogen levels then steadily increase until they peak just before ovulation.
During this time, estrogen promotes growth and development of the endometrium, which serves as a cushion for any potential fertilized egg that may implant itself within it.
Aside from its role in reproduction, estrogen also helps to regulate bone density, cholesterol levels and other bodily functions throughout a woman’s life.
Progesterone is the primary hormone produced by the corpus luteum, a structure formed in the ovary after ovulation.
During the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle (the second half), progesterone levels increase dramatically, helping to maintain and thicken the endometrium – a layer of cells that lines the uterus.
This prepares your body for pregnancy if an egg has been fertilized.
If no pregnancy occurs, however, this thickened endometrium will eventually be shed due to decreasing progesterone levels as the corpus luteum degenerates; this process marks menstruation.
Progesterone therefore plays an important role in regulating and preparing for both pregnancy and menstruation during each menstrual cycle.
Can Collagen Affect Your Period?
There’s no shortage of things that can affect your period, from stress to diet to exercise. So it’s only natural that you might wonder whether collagen, a popular supplement, could have an impact on your monthly cycle.
While there’s no direct evidence that taking collagen supplements can affect your period, there are a few indirect ways it could have an impact.
Collagen is known to improve gut health, which means it could indirectly impact the menstrual cycle by affecting hormone levels. Gut health is linked to hormone balance, and an imbalance can lead to irregular periods.
Collagen may help to support gut health and hormone balance, which could in turn help to regulate the menstrual cycle. In addition, collagen has anti-inflammatory properties that could help to reduce period pain. Therefore, consuming collagen regularly may help to improve overall menstrual health.
Estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and thyroid hormones all play a role in regulating the menstrual cycle.
Understanding how these hormones interact can help women better understand their own cycle and any associated health issues.
For example, if estrogen levels are too low or high it can lead to irregular periods or heavy bleeding.
Similarly, if FSH or LH levels become imbalanced it could affect ovulation leading to infertility or other complications such as endometriosis.
It is therefore important to maintain overall hormonal balance for optimal reproductive and overall health.
This can be achieved through lifestyle changes such as reducing stress levels, maintaining a healthy diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals and exercising regularly which helps keep hormones balanced.
Additionally, speaking with your healthcare provider may also help identify any underlying hormonal imbalance that needs addressing with medication or further treatment such as fertility therapies if needed.