The follicular phase coincides with the menstruation phase and typically occurs between cycle days 1 and 11 of your monthly cycle.
The follicular phase lasts until ovulation, when the luteal phase begins.
During the follicular phase, your brain’s hypothalamus gland releases the hormone gonadotropin (GnRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland and results in a subsequent increase of your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
In turn, the FSH and LH hormones stimulate the growth of follicles and approximately 20 eggs within the ovaries. Each follicle contains an egg and on average there are about 15 produced each cycle.
Usually by CD 8, the menstruation phase has ended and the rise in FSH and LH hormones have also begun stimulating an increased level of estrogen. Once estrogen has increased substantially, it leads to an automatic decrease in FSH in order to control the amount of mature follicles. This way, only one follicle within one ovary will become dominant and will be the follicle that releases an egg during ovulation. The other follicles ultimately stop growing and subside.
Estrogen is also the hormone that helps the uterine lining become thicker (as does progesterone during the luteal phase), which is vital for successful implantation. The ideal thickness of the uterine lining is between 10mm and 15mm. Typically, the uterus reaches its maximum thickness by CD21.
After menstruation, you may notice the following changes during the follicular phase:
- Clear mindedness
- Improved mood
- Increased energy
- Improved skin quality
- Heightened senses
- Increased libido
Have you ever noticed that you feel calmer and have more energy after your period? With the end of menstruation and the development of follicles leading to a healthy level of estrogen, many women benefit from an extra boost of endorphins that comes along with increased levels of estrogen. This is because the rise in estrogen increases the amount of the brain’s receptor sites available for brain chemicals, such as endorphins, to “dock”. Endorphins are released during physical activity and are both a natural pain-reliever and “feel good” brain chemical.
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