cyclical hormonal symptoms

page updated: 31-Mar-2004

Despite never monitoring and counting out my cycle, I have been generally on top of where I've been at for as long as I can remember. I pay attention to how my breasts and belly feel, and what kind of secretions my vagina produces. These go through a pattern of states indicative of what my cycle is up to. I find it easier to keep track of things this way. Only the belly ones are described here; there is a separate secretions page.

After I finish bleeding, my tummy is comfy. It is neither bigger nor smaller than I expect it to be, and feels neither heavy nor empty. It is plain. Apparently at this time my uterus is busy in there building up its lining from the 1/3 or so thickness that remained after bleeding.

Around the time of ovulation, about a week after I finish bleeding, my tummy will be heavier and tender at spots just inside the front top of my hip bones. I figure this is my ovaries being ripe :) My breasts will be somewhat heavy and tender. Lately I also tend to get a heavy, sensitive feeling uterus around this time. Some months, I feel a twinge on one side, which when I've counted has always been exactly two weeks before I bleed and which I figure is the way ovulation feels. Once I was looking at my belly when I felt the twinge, and saw it happen as well. My belly is alive. I think the twinge is not the egg bursting out of the ovary, but is the frilly fimbrae end of the fallopian tube on that side bending over to scoop up the ripe ova. There is a German word for this twinge that means something like middle month pain. (Course I don't remember what it was, but that's what makes me charming...)

I'll find a link to a paper I read awhile ago relating sex drive to women's hormone cycles. It concluded that female libido was most intense at ovulation, when a woman is fertile. I myself rarely want to have sex right when I'm ovulating, because my tummy is kind of funny and makes me want to treat it gently. However, I do notice that the days right before my ovulation time tend to be smutty days.

The week after ovulation is usually an uneventful belly time, as far as I recall. Some time between bleedings, I notice that my tummy fits less well into my pants than it usually does. Right now I'm not sure if this is a mid-cycle/ovulation kind of thing or if it starts later. It lasts until a few days before I bleed, or sometimes right up until I bleed. It could be water retention, I guess. I hadn't noticed this weight fluctuation until this past year, during which time I was on the pill and living with a girl roommate.

Usually for at least 1 whole day before I bleed, my tummy is heavy and bloated feeling, and threatens to be crampy. This is my special warning that I am about to bleed. It can last more than a day, up to about 5 days of advance warning. I would say the average is 2. At this time my breasts are also often sore, as well as bigger than usual, and my cervix makes less discharge than usual.

Bleeding week has its own section.

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