In a woman's life, the menstrual cycle begins at puberty with the first menstruation and ends at menopause when menstruation stops, signifying the end of fertility. It's a whole part of his life that is governed by the vagaries of this cycle, marked by the influences that direct it. And they are numerous, sometimes even unknown or unexpected.

How to better understand its cycle to understand its effects on daily life? How to better listen to your body and its feelings to identify the influences of the menstrual cycle? We try to answer them in this article.



What is the menstrual cycle exactly?

The menstrual cycle is not just about the period of blood loss. It is in fact the whole of the physiological phenomena that the woman (or any person endowed with a vagina and ovaries) knows, in the preparation of her organism for a possible fertilization.

This menstrual cycle begins in the girl at puberty and ends at menopause , which also symbolizes the effective cessation of menstruation and fertility of a woman.

Usually, the duration of this cycle is 28 days , but this "normative" period can vary between people, can be longer or shorter and is not always regular. It can also undergo rhythm changes depending on the periods of a woman's life (moments of stress, emotional shock, etc.). The first day of menstruation marks day 1/28 of the menstrual cycle.

How does the menstrual cycle work?

The menstrual cycle is controlled by female hormones produced by the ovaries: estrogen and progesterone . These two hormones work together to direct the stages of the menstrual cycle and accompany the female body from stage to stage.

The menstrual cycle consists of 4 stages:

  • The menstrual phase: In the absence of fertilization, the ovarian corpus luteum deteriorates. At this time, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest. It is this dramatic drop in hormone levels in the body that triggers the shedding of excess uterine lining . The lining of the uterus, called the endometrial lining – a red fluid containing blood and tissue – breaks away from the walls of the uterus, passes through the cervix which opens at this time and is then expelled through the vagina. It is this phenomenon that is called menstruation or “menses” in the past. This phase lasts an average of 3 to 7 days but can last up to 14 days depending on the person. During her period, a woman loses between 35ml and 80ml of blood .
  • The follicular phase (or pre-ovulation phase): This second stage of the menstrual cycle begins on the first day of menstruation, therefore straddling the menstrual phase, and ends at the time of ovulation, around the 14th day. It lasts an average of 2 weeks on a theoretical cycle of 28 days. Follicles are small sac-like structures that contain cellular material. The follicles are stored and directly linked to the ovarian reserve, that is to say the oocytes which are released each month from the first period until menopause. During this follicular phase, certain follicles called "primordial" are activated and begin a process of maturation to become "secondary" and then "tertiary" follicles. At the end of this evolution, there remains only one follicle capable of continuing its growth until the stage of pre-ovulatory follicle, known as Graafian follicle . Another hormone then releases its contents: a fertilizable oocyte which starts its way down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. At the end of the menstrual phase, the uterus has just evacuated its old mucous membrane through the phenomenon of menstruation. Once this natural cleaning is completed, the endometrium thickens again under the effect of the progressive secretion of estrogen by the ovaries.
  • The ovulatory phase: This third phase begins with the rise of luteinizing hormone, which is used to trigger ovulation in women and the production of testosterone in men. In women, it occurs on average between the 14th day and the 16th day of the menstrual cycle. As the date of ovulation approaches, the ovaries secrete greater amounts of estrogen, responsible for thickening the uterine wall which makes it favorable for implantation if fertilization takes place. The cervix evolves, opens slightly and is placed a little higher to promote fertilization. Within 12 hours following this hormonal peak, an egg is released. There are also variations in this ovulatory phase. It is possible not to ovulate every month: we speak of an anovulatory cycle which can be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome and the presence of numerous ovarian microcysts, by hypothyroidism or by the approach of menopause. It is also possible to ovulate twice during the same cycle : in this case, 2 separate eggs are released which will give birth to fraternal twins .
  • The luteal phase: This fourth and final phase begins just after ovulation and extends, in the absence of fertilization, until the eve of menstruation, until the 28th day, i.e. for a period of approximately 2 weeks. . What happens if there is fertilization? At the level of the ovary which gave rise to ovulation the ruptured follicle is transformed into the yellow body or corpus luteum which gives its name to the luteal phase. The level of estrogen is always high, and the level of progesterone increases in parallel, secreted by this corpus luteum and levels up with estrogen to share the function of preparing the uterus for implantation. Progesterone levels peak within 8 days of ovulation and then gradually decline. The embryo takes over hormonal secretions and maintains the corpus luteum and its production of progesterone while the placenta develops. What happens if there is no fertilization? The corpus luteum deteriorates: estrogen and progesterone levels then drop sharply and trigger menstruation . It is then the beginning of the menstrual phase, so a new cycle begins, and so on!


The entire menstrual cycle is ultimately governed by two diametrically opposed hormones: estrogen and progesterone .

What are estrogens?

It is a female hormone secreted by the developing follicles of the ovaries and by the placenta. She is responsible for pubertal development and subsequent maintenance of female physical characteristics. At first, the production of estrogens begins to increase after the end of the rules, reaches its peak at the time of ovulation then, if the egg is not fertilized, drops sharply at the end of the cycle on the 28th . day to start menstruation. Estrogens act on many tissues of the female organism: the utero-genital system, the mammary gland, the skeleton, the skin, the mucous membranes, the cardiovascular system, the brain and the digestive system . No wonder that their variations (increase during the ovulation phase and sharp decrease just before menstruation) have an influence on the whole system of the human body and do not only impact the menstrual cycle but also mood, appetite, desire, energy and much more.

What is progesterone?

It is a female hormone that serves to prepare the uterus for possible pregnancy . Progesterone is produced after ovulation, a period during which its levels increase for a few days and then decrease in the absence of fertilization, to then trigger menstruation. The hormone produces a calming effect: it prevents the uterus from contracting and strengthens the cervix. It acts on the lining of the uterus (or endometrium) to maintain it and prepare it for the reception of an embryo . From the 3rd month of pregnancy, the placenta takes over to produce progesterone and ensure the protection of the embryo .



As we have seen previously, hormones have great power over the female organism, which they masterfully control. The power of influence is great, and inevitably, this also impacts the daily life of a woman who sees some variations in her body and mind depending on the periods of her cycle.

The first phase: a reset of body and mind.

Menstruation begins, triggered by the sharp drop in estrogen and progesterone levels in the body. At this time, the mood is calmer, more stable, and a stronger tendency to empathy is felt. It's a bit of a "reset" of the body and the mind with this new cycle that is beginning. Beware, however, of hormonal migraine that may be present in some people.

The second phase: the renewal of energy, audacity and self-confidence.

During the second week, in the pre-ovulation period, the production of hormones gradually rises. The energy rises and the body loses sensitivity. Around the 10th day until the 14th day, the level of testosterone in the body gives a mental and physical boost. We feel lighter, less numb, as if liberated. Emotionally, this is the best time to make a decision in your relationship, end a love affair or be bold if your love life needs it. In a word: dare! This rise in hormones also pushes the tendency to seduction. We want to please, to express ourselves, to expose ourselves, to socialize.

The third phase: the slowing down of energy.

Around the 14th day, ovulation takes place and estrogen and testosterone levels are at their lowest, while progesterone rises. This somewhat complicated period hormonally can cause mood swings. You may feel irritable and high-tempered for a few days, before the hormone level rebalances by the middle of the third week, and your mood with it. Overall, the energy slows down and is more easily spent, due to the high level of progesterone and its amazing calming and anesthetic effects. The rhythm of life becomes more flexible, the need for rest is felt. During sports exercises, up to 30% more energy is spent, the hormones promoting fat-burning actions. In the week of ovulation, the body also changes physically. For example, one side of the face may swell, depending on which side of the ovary is ovulating. If you notice swelling on the right side of your chin, your right ovary may be ovulating!

The fourth phase: great sensitivity and irresistible gluttony.

During this last phase, the body prepares for potential fertilization, and hormones continue to climb. Sleep problems can be felt, as well as poor transit because the body is hard at work, boosted by hormones. The body is thus much more sensitive and receptive to pain. Some irresistible cravings for gluttony can also be part of it, under the influence of progesterone. Pre-menstrual syndrome sets in with some of its symptoms: migraine, headaches, increased sensitivity in the chest, irritability, fatigue...



Chaque mois, quelques jours à l’approche des règles, l’organisme féminin subit un véritable bouleversement d’origine hormonale. Près de 75 % des femmes ressentent des symptômes négatifs voire désagréables durant cette période : c’est ce que l’on appelle le "syndrome prémenstruel" ou SPM. Il s’agit d’un ensemble de symptômes qui surviennent généralement 3 à 4 jours avant l’arrivée des règles. Plus de 150 symptômes sont répertoriés, variables selon le cycle et selon la personne. Selon l’American Psychiatric Association, 3 à 5 % d’entre elles souffriraient même d’un trouble dysphorique prémenstruel, caractérisé par des symptômes encore plus sévères, comme un état dépressif, de l’anxiété, de l’insomnie ainsi que d’autres difficultés importantes qui peuvent malheureusement perturber le quotidien.

Sur le plan psychologique, les personnes touchées rapportent un état de tristesse, d’anxiété, de sensibilité, d’irritabilité, des sautes d’humeur, un manque d’énergie et de désir.

Les manifestations sont aussi nombreuses sur le plan physique :

  • Les seins peuvent être gonflés et douloureux : les seins sont porteurs de récepteurs aux hormones. Selon la personne, ces récepteurs seront plus ou moins sensibles aux variations hormonales, et la tension produite par celles-ci dans les glandes mammaires peut se faire plus ou moins ressentir. 
  • Une prise de poids peut être observée, de l’ordre de 1 à 2 kilos avec éventuellement des ballonnements. Les hormones jouent un rôle dans la mobilité digestive au niveau des intestins et peuvent être à l’origine d’un ralentissement du transit intestinal, voire d’une constipation.

Sur le plan physiologique, la chute du taux de d’œstrogènes et surtout de progestérone provoque la destruction de l’endomètre, la muqueuse utérine. C’est la période des règles qui procèdent d’un mécanisme inflammatoire. Les douleurs potentielles sont causées par la contraction des muscles de l’utérus pour expulser l’endomètre et le sang. 

On n’y pense pas forcément, mais le syndrome pré-menstruel peut être à l’origine de bien des maux. Pour parler plus amplement des maladies gynécologiques de la dyspareunie ou de l’endométriose, voici notre article de blog qui y est dédié. De façon globale, n’hésitez pas à vous rapprocher de votre médecin traitant ou de votre gynécologue pour mieux comprendre ces symptômes et leur influence sur votre quotidien.


Au-delà du pouvoir des hormones sur l’équilibre de l’humeur, celles-ci sont également étroitement liées à l’appétit sexuel et la libido. Alors comment les hormones peuvent-elles être aussi influençables dans notre sexualité ?

On sait que les femmes qui ont un retrait d’ovaires connaissent une baisse de libido plus importante que lors de la ménopause. On sait aussi que les femmes qui prennent une contraception hormonale sont moins en phase avec leur cycle et leur libido qui a tendance à être déséquilibré, à diminuer, voire à disparaitre totalement. Tout cela prouve bien que les hormones influencent notre vie sexuelle et notre désir.

À quelle(s) période(s) du cycle menstruel le désir sexuel chez la femme est-il plus fort ?

En période de pré-ovulation, naturellement le corps produit bien plus d’hormones pour pousser à la procréation, nous donner l’envie de passer des nuits torrides dans le but de se reproduire. Le sexe est encore meilleur à cette période car il est encore plus facile d’atteindre l’orgasme pour les femmes. Les hormones aident également à produire davantage de lubrification naturelle. Hormonalement parlant, ce sera la période où la femme ressentira le plus l’envie de faire l’amour, juste avant l’ovulation, soit 10 à 14 jours après le premier jour de règles.

En revanche, une fois l’ovulation terminée, la progestérone remonte avec ses effets calmants et anesthésiants qui impactent l’excitation : c’est la baisse de libido.

Également pendant la période de règles, le taux de progestérone dans le corps féminin diminue et peut entrainer à nouveau la montée du désir. De nombreuses femmes déclarent avoir envie de faire l’amour pendant leurs règles. Cependant, cette influence hormonale sur la libido reste très moindre par rapport à la part contextuelle. Le bien-être psychologique individuel et celui du couple restent essentiels à la « bonne santé » du désir sexuel.

Bien plus chez la femme que chez l'homme, les hormones régissent de façon arbitraire le quotidien, autant sur le plan physique que physiologique et psychologique, et ce tout au long du cycle menstruel. De nombreuses variations impactent donc la femme dans son humeur, son appétit, son énergie, sa dépense énergétique mais aussi dans sa vie intime et sexuelle, sa libido, son envie de faire l’amour.

Le plus important est de parvenir à comprendre et écouter son corps, ressentir ses besoins et ses envies, et réussir à les appréhender malgré toutes ces variations.