Don’t know which week you’re on in your monthly cycle–Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 or Week 4?
Good news: Finding out is easy!
That’s because each week of your cycle has a distinct “personality” that’s easy to recognize.
Plus, your body gives you numerous physical clues that let you know where you are.
Don’t have a “traditional” 28-day cycle or does the length of your cycle vary from month to month? No problem–these clues will help you pinpoint where you are no matter how long or short your cycle is.
Here are the clues to look for:
Week 1: Whirring to life
Day 1 (first day of your period) to Day 7
Cycle clues: Figuring out when you enter Week 1 is simple: It starts on the first day of your period, which is considered Day 1 of your cycle. This is when estrogen bottoms out, signalling your body to start menstruation. A few hours after your period begins, your estrogen begins to slowly rise and it continues to rise throughout the whole week. This week starts off slow as menstruation saps your energy and pep. However, as you reach the middle of Week 1, estrogen continues to climb while menstruation peters out, so you’ll likely notice your energy rises, your mood improves, you have a greater desire to socialize and your brain skills steadily improve.
Week 2: Peak of perfection
Day 8 to Day 14 (or ovulation in your cycle)
Cycle clues: You officially reach Week 2 of your cycle 8 days after the first day of your period. But, if you’ve lost track, look for these clues from your brain: you’re more likely to have an upbeat mood, you’ve got a sharper memory, you’re speaking faster and more fluidly, you’re thinking faster, you’re more impulsive and you’re more confident, which are all due to peaking estrogen and testosterone during this week. Your body is also making it easy to determine when you’ve reached Week 2: You have more energy, you’re less sensitive to pain, your libido is revved and your vaginal secretions are clear and thin. The number of days in Week 2 are actually subject to change depending on when you ovulate. When does that happen? Read on to find out…
Clues to knowing when you ovulate:
- Gauge your libido: In women with healthy menstrual cycles, during ovulation your sex drive will suddenly and dramatically spike due to a peak in testosterone.
- Check your vaginal secretions: To allow sperm to pass more easily, your vaginal secretions become thin and slick like an egg white. When your fluids turn cloudy, it means progesterone is rising and you’ve entered your Week 3.
- Use a basal thermometer: This special thermometer reads your “basal temperature”, which is your body temperature right after waking in the morning, but before getting out bed. On the day after you ovulate, your basal temperature rises .4 to one degree Fahrenheit. You can purchase a basal thermometer at drugstores and Amazon.com, such as the Easy@Home Digital Basal Thermometer.
- Use an ovulation microscope: This is by far my favorite method, probably because it’s fun and easy–and when you pull it out at parties, all the women say, “Wow!” and want to try it. An ovulation microscope is a reusable lipstick-sized mini-microscope that determines when you’re about to ovulate by measuring the amount of salt in your saliva. You put a little spit on the microscope and, once it dries, if you see distinct fern shapes through the eye-piece, it means you’re going to ovulate the next day. If you see small ferns, you’re about three days away from ovulation. If you see dots and lines, you’re not close to ovulation.You can purchase an ovulation microscope from Amazon.com, such as the Fertile Focus Ovulation Microscope.
Week 3: Slow and low
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (that’s Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
Cycle clues: You officially enter Week 3 one day after you ovulate. In a 28-day cycle, that would be Day 15. Not sure when you ovulated? Not a problem! It’s easy to determine when you’re in Week 3. That’s because one to two days after you ovulate, you may feel lethargic, have intermittent irritability, be mental foggy and forgetful and have a significantly lower sex drive. Why the many sudden changes? Plunging estrogen. Very few women are aware that estrogen actually dips not once, but twice every month—and this is the first of those two plunges. As a result, you get what I call “pre-PMS” symptoms, which are similar to PMS symptoms, but they only last three to four days rather than the whole week (because estrogen rises again by the middle of Week 3) and are generally less intense. What’s more, progesterone (a sedating hormone) rises all throughout Week 3, bringing down your pep and libido and making you a tad forgetful. Your body also offers another clear-cut signal that you’re in Week 3: Your vaginal discharge becomes thick and cloudy due to rising progesterone. So, a quick “dipstick” test can help you figure out if you’ve entered your Week 3.
Week 4: See-sawy
Final 6 days of your cycle
Cycle clues: Known best for being the PMS week, you’ll probably have no problem figuring out when you reach this week since you may experience sudden bouts of irritability and moodiness. For some women, premenstrual symptoms are intense and frequent; for others, they’re mild; and for some, they change from month to month. (For help reducing the frequency and intensity of your premenstrual symptoms, check out these study-proven natural remedies.) There is one silver lining in your Week 4: Your libido comes back to life and gets more intense the closer you get to your period. Though it’s not due to hormones, researchers say. Instead, they think that as your body prepares for menstruation, it stimulates nerve endings down below.
IMPORTANT: Please do not use the methods described above to detect ovulation as a method of birth control. Semen, a surprisingly patient male bodily secretion, can live within your body for up to seven days, which means if you have sex up to a week prior to ovulation, you could possibly get pregnant even if you abstain during ovulation. To avoid pregnancy, use a form of birth control with a high efficacy rate (such as an IUD, condoms with spermicide or hormone birth control) all cycle long.
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