How to Treat your Body During your Follicular Phase


23 April 2024

Elevate well-being during your follicular phase with expert tips on nutrition, exercise, and self-care.

The menstrual cycle consists of distinct phases, beginning with the follicular phase. Initiated by menstruation and lasting approximately 14 days, this phase involves the maturation of ovarian follicles, preparing an egg for potential release. To enhance fertility and overall wellness at this stage of your cycle, it’s important to prioritise balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and rest.

In this blog, we’ll provide valuable insights and practical steps you can implement to support fertility during the follicular phase. To complement your knowledge of the menstrual cycle, you can learn more about the power of Understanding Your Reproductive Health.

What is the Follicular Phase?

The follicular phase is the first stage of the menstrual cycle, and typically lasts around 14 days. Initiated by menstruation, it involves the maturation of ovarian follicles, structures containing developing eggs.

Key hormonal changes during this time include a rise in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates follicle growth. As the follicles mature, oestrogen levels peak, triggering the release of luteinizing hormone (LH). This culminates in ovulation, marking the end of the follicular phase.

These hormonal fluctuations prepare the uterine lining for a potential pregnancy, making the follicular phase a key aspect of fertility.

How Long Does the Follicular Phase Last?

The follicular phase generally lasts around 14 days in a standard 28-day menstrual cycle. However, individual variations are common, and cycle lengths may differ. Shorter or longer cycles, ranging from 21 to 35 days, can impact the duration of the follicular phase, as well as factors like stress, hormonal fluctuations, and other health conditions.

While variations in individual cycles are normal, it can be helpful to monitor your cycle to help you gain a better understanding of your reproductive health.

How Do You Feel During the Follicular Phase?

During the follicular phase, many people have reported experiencing increased energy levels, improved concentration, an enhanced libido, and a positive mood. These positive changes are often attributed to rising oestrogen levels.

While these trends are common, individual experiences may vary, influenced by factors such as stress and lifestyle choices. Staying attuned to your emotions during the follicular phase can aid in holistic wellbeing and a better understanding of your cycle symptoms.

Balanced Eating for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle

To support hormonal balance, muscle function, healthy digestion, stable blood sugar levels, and combat inflammation throughout your menstrual cycle, you can enrich your diet with the following:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds)
  • Magnesium sources (e.g. leafy greens, nuts, whole grains)
  • High-fibre foods (e.g. fruits, vegetables, whole grains)
  • Fermented foods (e.g. yoghurt, kimchi)
  • Antioxidants (e.g. berries, green tea)
  • Healthy fats (e.g. avocado, olive oil)
  • Complex carbohydrates (e.g. quinoa, sweet potato)
  • Iron (e.g. lean meats, legumes, dark leafy greens)
  • Vitamin C-rich foods (citrus fruits and juices, pineapple, bell peppers)
  • Zinc (e.g. pumpkin seeds, cashews, hemp seeds)

How to Support the Follicular Phase

Building on the foundation of a balanced diet, you can embrace a holistic approach to wellness during the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle by integrating self-care, stress management, and mindful practices into your daily routine.

More than just a movement, self-care has the potential to counteract the impact of stress hormones. It involves prioritising activities that bring joy and relaxation, whether it's indulging in a warm bath, taking a walk through nature, or engaging in a favourite hobby. Complementing this, stress management and mindful practices like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and journalling can help you stay attuned to your body's signals and support general health.

For additional support, Monash IVF offers a range of services, including natural and complementary therapies, psychological support, and a wealth of resources to help patients navigate their fertility journey with confidence.

What Exercises to Do in the Follicular Phase

You can capitalise on heightened energy levels during the follicular phase by adhering to a well-rounded exercise routine. Cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking, jogging, and cycling can boost circulation, while strength training with bodyweight exercises, resistance training, or yoga can enhance muscle tone. Flexibility exercises like stretching or yoga can also improve mobility and reduce tension.

Tailor your routine to your personal preferences and fitness level to maximise the benefits of physical activity during this stage of your menstrual cycle.

Connection and self-care

Accompanied by menstruation, the follicular phase is commonly perceived as a period of inconvenience. However, at Monash IVF, we encourage you to view this menstrual phase differently. Whether you’re trying to conceive or simply looking to familiarise yourself with the patterns of your cycle, you can use this opportunity to connect with your body by prioritising self-care, nutrition, and exercise.

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