What is the follicular phase (and why do you need to know about it when trying for a baby?)

Do you know what a follicular phase is (and why it’s important)?

The follicular phase is the first half of your monthly cycle. It can last between 7 and 21 days. Teens can have a follicular phase of up to 32 days!

It starts when a few follicles (6 -8) get to the end of their 100 day development to begin ovulation.

The follicle development is governed by the pituitary hormone FSH – follicule-stimulating hormone, which stimulates the follicles to grow. You have less FSH when younger, hence the likelihood of a longer phase, and more as you mature – leading to shorter or irregular periods.

FSH levels also contribute to how heavy or light your bleed is – the hormone stimulates estradiol which influences the thickening of the uterine lining. The more estradiol = thicker lining = heavier periods.

The maturing follicles stimulate the production of estradiol – oestrogen – which can promote feelings of wellbeing, happiness, libido by boosting your ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters of serotonin and dopamine. Oestrogen is also important for healthy skin, bones, muscles, brain, heart, sleep AND metabolism!

In short, the follicular phase of your cycle is likely to be the part where you feel most connected to yourself, feel happier and better able to cope with anything life throws at you, and if you’re trying for a baby – it’s the time when you are more likely to feel like having sex.

If you have PCOS (poly-cycstic ovary syndrome), you are likely not to be ovulating because the availability of the hormones you need to ovulate are suppressed by an over production of androgens like testosterone. Your body may be producing follicles, but they won’t be able to ripen because the FSH needed to mature them and move to oestrogen production is blocked by higher levels of testosterone and other male hormones. This means that the follicular phase just keeps going, without an egg being produced, making it very hard to conceive.

Can you regulate the follicular phase? Yes. Charting your monthly cycles is key to finding out what’s happening inside. As follicles take over 100 days to mature, three months of charts will give you great data on what has happened to get you to now.

This information can then be used to focus on changes that positively influence your hormonal balance. Amending your nutrition, lifestyle changes, specific supplements and targeted reproductive reflexology have shown improvements in regulating the follicular phase.

In a study conducted by the Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, the pregnancy rate for women with PCOS was 72% (live birth rate 57%), showing the effectiveness of regular reproductive reflexology treatments.

Balancing your cycle helps your body to work in harmony, and you to feel better.

What’s your follicular phase like?

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