Uncovering The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle – The Follicular Phase

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Welcome to part 2 of this blog series where we are Uncovering The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle. Today we’re talking about phase 2, the Follicular Phase.

Follicular phase - period pad

Phase 2 – The Follicular Phase

In this blog post we will cover:

  • What is the follicular phase
  • What is happening in your body at this time
  • Diet and lifestyle tips to support you and your hormones through this phase

The Follicular Phase (Days 1-13)

The main phases of the menstrual cycle are divided into two main ones, the follicular phase and the luteal phase. It is within these phases that two additional phases are found. The menstruation and ovulation phases. Last time we covered the menstruation phase, so if you missed that, check it out here:

The Follicular Phase - calendar

The follicular phase starts on the first day of your cycle (aka menstruation), however, unlike your menstruation which lasts roughly 3-6 days, the follicular phase lasts until ovulation. Typically, this is around days 14-16. Therefore, the follicular phase is roughly 13 days long.

The Follicular phase gets its name because the pituitary gland releases a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). It’s this hormone that stimulates the egg cells in the ovaries to grow. Just one of these egg cells will start to mature, and it does this in a sac-like structure called a follicle. To reach maturity, the egg cell needs about 13 days. It is during this phase that our bodies start to prepare for a potential pregnancy.

The dominant follicle produces estrogen which causes the uterus to begin preparations for the egg and increases the luteinizing hormone. This follicle secretes a hormone that stimulates the uterus to develop a lining of blood vessels and soft tissue called the endometrium.
When this phase ends, the egg is released, which is also known as ovulation.

In order to support yourself during this phase, start putting some of the advice below into action after your period ends.

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Diet Tips to Support you During the Follicular Phase

Whether you’re preparing for a baby or not, now is an excellent time to really nourish your body. You’re building up your uterus lining for your next cycle, so it’s a good time to really support and nourish yourself.

Additionally, a lot of women find that they experience menstrual issues, and some of these are due to an inability to process and eliminate excess estrogen. Now is a good time to focus on certain foods that support the liver and help metabolize/eliminate excess estrogens from the body, including the following.

Fibre-rich foods

  • Cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower | cabbage | kale | Broccoli | Brussels sprouts | bok choy
  • Fermented foods – Sauerkraut | Kimchi
  • Psyllium husks and ground flax seeds (aka linseeds)

Liver Loving Foods

  • lemons | oranges | limes | grapefruit | watercress | parsley | carrots | artichoke | leafy greens

Healthy Fats

  • avocados | coconut milk and yoghurt | olives and olive oil | almonds | walnuts | hemp seeds | chia seeds

Animal Based

  • eggs | white fish | organic chicken | organic butter | ghee | seafood (very zinc-rich)
The Follicular Phase - nettle leaves

Herbs to Support the Follicular Phase

Since this is the time to focus on supporting your body’s process of replacing lost minerals and nutrients during menstruation as well as cleansing, herbs really come into their own here.

Nettle

Nettle is an excellent herb for replenishing iron. Some people feel depleted after their period, and it may very well be a lack of iron. Additionally, iron contains lots of B vitamins which are also wonderous for energy levels. 

Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green microscopic algae with a full spectrum of nutrients that are highly nourishing to the body. It’s a great addition to your diet during this phase because it contains vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, amino acids, chlorophyll and even some essential fatty acids.

You’ll find a nice source of iron, B12 and B6 here.

Schisandra

Schisandra is a beautiful herb to help replenish the body post-menstruation. It’s an adaptogenic herb, so wonderful at helping to enhance the body’s natural resistance and adaptation to stressful influences.

Additionally, Schisandra is a fantastic liver detoxifier. During this phase, it’s a great time to get things processed and eliminated. Since the liver is the largest elimination organ in the body, keeping it happy and healthy is certainly important. Schisandra contains a plethora of antioxidants that help to deactivate free radicals that attack liver cells.

woman working out with weights

Lifestyle Tips to Support the Follicular Phase

Often after your menstruation days, you’ll start to feel more energy, both physically but also mentally. It’s a good time to start new things and get stuff done! That’s because estrogen levels are rising during this phase.

Exercise

Now is the time when you can get as hot and sweaty as you like! You can channel your new found energy into more physically demanding workouts, hikes, vinyasa style yoga and running.

Socialise and Create

It’s also a good time for socialising and being creative, so enjoy your creative juices and get stuck into the project you’ve been wanting to work on now.

That’s it for part 2 of Uncovering The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle – The Follicular Phase.

If you missed part 1, check it out here:

Emily Nöth

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*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.

Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication