Menstrual Cycle Changes You May Experience
Menstrual cycle changes are body changes that accompany the changes in
the circulating levels of female hormones in the blood during the
The single most remarkable change is the flow of menstrual blood, but that is just one of the many changes taking place.
this article, I will review the different categories of changes that
occur during the cycle and a brief discussion of the specific changes
under each category.
Categories Of Changes
The menstrual cycle changes you experience are the direct effects of the hormonal changes in your body. These changes are
- Physical changes occurring in the body
- Psychological changes in the mind
These are the trigger changes. They cause the physical and
psychological menstrual cycle changes. The two major hormones involved
are estrogen and progesterone. The levels of these hormones change
during the different phases of the cycle as shown in the diagram
- Ovaries.The follicles in the ovaries grow, rupture and then shrink. This occurs every month and is sometimes called the ovarian cycle
- Fallopian tubes.
The tubes also change every month but these are minor changes. An
example of the minor change is the development of long cilia( “legs” of
the cells) in the lining of the tubes during the ovulation period to
propel the egg.
- Cervix. The secretion of the cervix changes as the
hormones change and becomes the typical “egg-white” during ovulation
period each month
- Vagina. The lining of the vagina also changes each month, becoming thickened during the luteal phase.
Morphological refers to the outward changes in a woman’s body
and overall physical outlook. These are very important menstrual cycle
changes because they may affect a sensitive aspect of a woman’s life,
her outlook. They are also part of the secondary sexual changes that
occur as a girl enters puberty because they are all due to the action of
female hormones. The most noticeable outlook changes are those of the
skin, breast and body weight.
The skin is the largest organ of the body
and is sensitive to estrogen and to some degree progesterone. The
cyclical changes in these female hormones cause changes in the skin
affecting many skin properties as outlined below
- Hydration ( moistness).
This is the amount of water in the skin that keeps it from getting dry.
Estrogen increases the degree of hydration of the skin. The skin is
therefore dry during the menstrual phase of the cycle and becomes moist
as the amount of estrogen increases in the follicular phase.
- Lipid secretion. Estrogen increases the amount of lipids on the skin which helps with
barrier function. It prevents water from evaporating from the skin and
helps in maintaining skin moisture. It is maximum in Day 16-Day 20 of
the cycle when there are high levels of circulating estrogens.
- Skin thickness, elasticity and resistance to wrinkling. As
the follicular phase starts, the increased levels of estrogen cause the
skin to be slightly thickened with increased elasticity. The skin takes
on the typical tender and succulent feminine character,
especially around the 14th day. This might contribute to the increased
attractiveness of some women noted during the ovulation period.
- Sebum secretion and Acne breakouts.
Sebum is the oily substance produced by the skin. Its secretion is
reduced by estrogen and increased by male sex hormones. During the
luteal phase, higher levels of male hormones and low levels of estrogen
increase sebum production and makes your skin more vulnerable to acne
- Skin pigmentation.Estrogen
increases pigmentation of the skin. The levels during the menstrual
cycle produce only mild changes like darkening under the eye. It may
also be noted around the areolae of the breasts and face. During
pregnancy, the higher levels of estrogen levels may produce a more
noticeable change in the pigmentation of the face, areolae and mid line
of the wall of the abdomen.
- Barrier function. During
the luteal phase, especially Day 22-26, the barrier function of the
skin is reduced, partly due to the reduction in the skin thickness. This
might cause your skin to be very sensitive to irritants in contact with
it. There is also a slight increase in the amount of bacteria in the
skin during these days.
- Susceptibility to Ultraviolet light rays. The skin is most susceptible to UV light damage on Days 20 through 28.
- Hair growth. During
pregnancy, high estrogen levels cause increases in the amount of hair
(hair density). This effect might not be pronounced during the monthly
cycle because of the lower hormonal levels and the rapidity of the
changes occurring in days.
- Body temperature regulation. The
skin plays an important role in the regulation of body temperature
through the blood vessels that it contains. During the luteal phase,
there is a slight increase in the body temperature of about 0.5 degrees
Celsius. Some women also tend have increased sweating during exercise
when they are in the luteal phase of their cycle.
summary, the luteal and menstrual phases are the phases during which
the amount of estrogen is lowest and the skin is most susceptible to
spots, acne, dryness and damage.
During the luteal phase,
Mild fluctuations in body weight may occur
as one of the menstrual cycle changes. It is mainly due to water
retention. Changes in appetite and physical activity may also be
Changes in the immune system
Estrogen suppresses the immune system. High levels of estrogen during
the follicular and early luteal phases may produce mild reduction in
the functioning of the immune system. These changes are very slight
however during the menstrual cycle but are pronounced during pregnancy
examining the hormonal changes did not find any conclusive pattern for
the occurrence of allergies during the different cycle phases.
The changes in hormonal levels may produce some emotional and
behavioral menstrual cycle changes in some women. Not every woman
experiences these changes.
Some women experience an increase in
their sexual desire especially during the ovulation period. Others have
also reported being “flirty” during this period.Other women experience
mild mood swings and irritability during the luteal phase.
research has found that women who experience headaches, gastrointestinal
problems, lower abdominal bloating, skin changes, and breast changes as
part of the physical menstrual cycle changes had a higher occurrence
of psychological symptoms.
Lifestyle Changes To Consider
What should you do with the knowledge of the changes above? No major
lifestyle changes are needed. You will definitely need to make some
minor changes depending on the menstrual cycle changes you experience
the most. Not every woman will experience these changes. The type and
severity of the changes also vary widely amongst women. Some simple
lifestyle changes to consider include
nutrition is never a bad habit. It always fits. Be sure to get a
regular balanced diet which will furnish both the essential nutrients
and also help control your weight. As for everyone, including fruits
and vegetables in the diet will go a long way to maintain good health
and a healthy skin.Though menstruation causes iron loss from the body,
extra iron supplements are not necessary-just eat healthy and
include foods also rich in green leafy vegetables!
Exercise may cause some relief if there are any menstrual discomfort especially menstrual cramps.
Good skin care
differ in the sensitivity of their skin to the different cycle changes.
While some women notice little or no effects, others experience
significant skin changes like severe acne breakouts or sunburns
skin care to avoid irritants including some skin care products and
unprotected exposure to sunlight during those sensitive days( especially
the luteal phase) may be beneficial to you. Find out what skin problems
you experience the most, and whether it is related to menses or not and
then take the appropriate precautions to maintain a healthy skin. You
may seek medical advice from your doctor I when necessary.
- Physiological changes associated with the menstrual cycle: a review. Farage MA, Neill S, MacLean AB. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2009 Jan;64(1):58-72.Good article but written for a professional audience.
Day-to-day co-variations of psychological and physical symptoms of the
menstrual cycle: insights to individual differences in steroid
reactivity. Kiesner J. Pastore M.Psychoneuroendocrinology. 35(3):350-63, 2010 Apr.
Return From Menstrual Cycle Changes To Ovulation Cycle
Return from Menstrual Cycle Changes To Menstruation Home