Acupuncture and Fertility: The Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
A woman’s cycle is like a fingerprint, with numerous factors that make it individual. Our hormones and glands affect the different phases of the menstrual cycle and can be influenced by the way we take care of ourselves. Each menstrual cycle has four phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Looking at the number of days and the temperatures during these phases are important for improving a woman's fertile window.
Phase One: This phase is considered day one of your period. Your temperature should be between 97.3-97.8 degrees fahrenheit. Ideally, the temperature should drop between .5-1.0 degree from the highest phase 4 temperature before day one of the cycle. A healthy release of the old lining and detoxification of old hormones is critical, as this process sets up the next cycle. This is where we focus on liver detox and the Chinese medicine principal of moving blood.
Phase Two: This is the follicular phase of your cycle and considered the pre-ovulatory part of your cycle. The estrogens are increasing and the follicle begins to develop. Overall, these temperatures are slightly lower than phase 1 and are generally around 97.2 and 97.6. These temps should remain stable or drop slightly. During this phase, the temperature will drop when estrogen peaks. This drop is what triggers the Luteinizing hormone (LH) surge at the end of phase 2. We refer to phase 2 as the yin phase, as the estrogens build to promote a healthy follicle, so regulating yin is our general approach.
Phase Three: An increase in temperature over 1-2 days is ideal, between .5-1.0 degrees fahrenheit. A dip down at the beginning of the phase is a good sign the ovaries are responding well. Temps should remain stable or climb slightly. Interestingly, these days represent a shift from a yin, or follicular phase, to the ovulatory phase. The cycle shifts from yin to yang. LH surges and the follicle bursts from the ovary.
Phase Four: Post-ovulation. Temps should remain high and stable at 97.8 and 98.4 deg F. A dip around day 21 can indicate implantation. Consistently higher temperatures reflect progesterone is functioning. Temps that rise up a second time after day 21 are considered triphasic and can indicate pregnancy. Treatments during this phase focus on supporting yang (progesterone).