The second half of the cycle
When we talk about the second half of the female cycle, we are actually referring to the luteal phase, which begins immediately after ovulation. The luteinising hormone (LH) is responsible for the formation of the corpus luteum from the follicle after ovulation. As hormone levels drop towards the end of this phase, you become calmer, more reflective and perhaps sensitive, sad or hot-tempered and restless. PMS symptoms are also common in the second half of the cycle.
What happens in the second half of the cycle?
In the second half of the cycle:
- estrogen levels continue to rise and the uterine lining also continues to thicken.
- progesterone levels begin to rise.
- estrogen, testosterone and progesterone peak towards the end of this cycle phase and then begin to decline. They reach their lowest point just before menstruation.
- many women experience PMS symptoms. In most cases, this is caused by too much estrogen in the body (in relation to progesterone).
- Metabolism speeds up.
- Constipation is more common because progesterone has a muscle relaxing effect and reduces bowel activity.
The length of the second half of the cycle
The second half of the cycle is time in the cycle that takes place between ovulation and the period. Normally, the second half of the cycle should last between 11 and 17 days.
Is the second half of the cycle too short?
The second half of the cycle is called (too) short if it lasts less than 10 days, i.e. the period starts 10 days or less after ovulation. In such cases, the lining of the uterus does not have the opportunity to grow and develop well enough to accommodate a baby. As a result, it can be more difficult to get pregnant and maintain a pregnancy in these cases.
Is the second half of the cycle too long?
The second half of the cycle is said to be too long if it lasts significantly longer than 17 days. This can be due to hormonal disorders like PCOS, for example. But a long period of time since your last ovulation could also mean that you are pregnant and just haven’t noticed it yet.
Cervical mucus in the second half of the cycle
Around ovulation there are a few ‘slippery’ (and highly fertile) days, which is related to high estrogen levels. As progesterone levels rise in the second half of the cycle, there is usually suddenly less mucus and the cervical mucus becomes rather cloudy and sticky again, followed by a few more days when a feeling of dryness predominates. In the days before your period, the cervical mucus is also usually rather firm, cloudy and creamy. Very close to your period, it can also turn brownish, which can lead to a kind of spotting.
Which hormone is important in the second half of the cycle?
Estrogen, testosterone and progesterone peak towards the end of this phase of the cycle and then start to decline. They reach their lowest point just before menstruation. From a hormonal point of view, however, the main player in the second half of the cycle is definitely the hormone progesterone.
Progesterone in the second half of the cycle
Progesterone is the predominant hormone in the second half of the cycle and is produced by the corpus luteum (but also by the adrenal glands). Incidentally, the body uses cholesterol as a building block to produce progesterone. Progesterone levels peak in the middle of the luteal phase. If conception does not occur, the corpus luteum gradually begins to break down after ovulation, causing progesterone levels to drop and eventually the period begins.
Is there an LH surge in the second half of the cycle?
In a healthy cycle, LH levels rise towards ovulation. This is because the LH surge triggers ovulation. Once ovulation has successfully taken place, LH levels go down again.
If LH levels remain permanently elevated, this could mean that ovulation hasn’t occurred.
Common reasons for this are:
Estrogen in the second half of the cycle
In the first half of the cycle, the female body prepares itself for a possible pregnancy (mainly through the influence of estrogen). After ovulation, estrogen levels drop sharply. However, it then increases again and remains high throughout the second half of the cycle. In the second half of the cycle, the lining of the uterus thickens further. The hormone estrogen thus provides optimal conditions for implantation. If a fertilised egg actually implants successfully, estrogen levels remain elevated. If pregnancy does not occur, estrogen levels drop again shortly before menstruation.
What symptoms are common in the second half of the cycle?
Many women are plagued by unpleasant symptoms in the second half of the cycle – PMS symptoms. PMS stands for ‘premenstrual syndrome’, but it can actually occur any time after ovulation, in the second half of the cycle.
PMS refers to a group of physical, psychological and emotional symptoms that menstruating people experience during the luteal phase.
Abdominal pain in the second half of the cycle
Women who are affected know it: abdominal pain is uncomfortable and annoying enough when it occurs during your period. It can be even more frustrating when you have cramps but your period is still days away. This can also be a sign that something else is going on. In fact, very often these cramps are caused by PMS and can occur 3 to 5 days before your period. In a few cases, women even experience abdominal pain a week before their period starts. A slight pulling sensation at the onset of your period is perfectly normal. Cramps that completely incapacitate a woman or cause severe nausea and/or vomiting are not normal. The same goes for abdominal pain that is experienced very suddenly and unexpectedly. In this case, something other than PMS could be the cause.
Breast pain / breast tenderness in the second half of the cycle
If you experience breast tenderness in the second half of the cycle, it is usually due to hormonal imbalances. Oftentimes, estrogen predominates in the second half of the cycle (in relation to progesterone). In these cases, too little progesterone reaches the breast tissue. This can lead to pain, sensitivity to touch, a feeling of tension and warmth, and sometimes even temporarily to palpable, nodular hardening, and is usually experienced as very unpleasant by the women who experience it.
Nausea in the second half of the cycle
Nausea in the second half of the cycle, like many other symptoms, can be a PMS symptom. The hormonal changes before menstruation can directly affect the digestive tract, causing nausea among other things. Some women even throw up during the second half of the cycle. The nausea usually disappears when menstruation sets in, but it can also get worse, accompanied by severe abdominal pain. It is important to remember that symptoms like these are not normal.
Bloating in the second half of the cycle
Many women experience bloating in the second half of their cycle.
It is actually very common during this part of the cycle and, how could it be otherwise, it is related to our hormones. At the beginning of the second half of the cycle, the hormone estrogen drops a little and then rises again and stays elevated. Progesterone production also kicks in. These hormonal changes can upset the digestive tract. For example, when estrogen levels are high, there is more water retention. Progesterone causes food to move more slowly through the intestines, which can lead to constipation and bloating. On the other hand, when progesterone decreases and bleeding starts, bowel activity can increase. For some women, this means diarrhoea and more bloating.
DIY Tea blend for the second half of the cycle
If you have problems with your cycle, drinking tea regularly can be very beneficial and effective. If you really want to do something for yourself and your well-being, you should take certain herbs for the cycle on a regular basis.
PMS TEA BLEND
for breast swelling/tenderness, water retention & mood swings during the second half of the cycle (according to Margret Madejsky)
40g lady’s mantle
40g Vitex Agnus Castus
20g St. John’s wort
20g lemon balm leaves
Can you get pregnant in the second half of the cycle?
Basically, the egg can be fertilized for about 12 – 24 hours after ovulation. Pregnancy can therefore occur within this time frame. Of course, it is important to know exactly when you are in which phase of the cycle. To do this, it is necessary to get to know your own cycle really well. A fertility tracker is particularly helpful for this. If you know exactly where you are in your cycle can you correctly determine the fertile phase.