Lesson 2: Intro to Follicular Phase

Last week, we learned that the menstrual phase is about resting and reconnecting with our intuition. Now, proceeding from a firm foundation, you should be able to creatively plan a path moving forward. Lean into this creativity and allow the ideas to flow into next steps!

Our hormone cycles have a great impact on our energy levels, which affect our productivity levels. Often, we think about productivity as a time management thing. In this case, I want you to think of it as energy management. If we can maximize and honor our energy levels, we will have a greater chance at being productive.

Our garden is changing, and it's time to make the necessary adjustments to grow and flourish. So, keep in mind that you are now in your follicular phase, and ask yourself, "What does my garden need today?"


The follicular phase is the second phase of your cycle, which is roughly days 7-14.

  • This phase varies the most in length.
  • Factors such as stress and illness can trigger changes.
  • This phase is also heavily variable because it takes you from one end of the spectrum to the other being the linking point between the menstrual phase and the ovulation phase.

Season: Spring

The season associated with the follicular phase of our cycle is spring. The flowers are blooming, there’s a new energy with lots of colors and beauty!

Physiological Hormone Explanation

This is the preparation stage for pregnancy. While estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest during the menstrual phase, estrogen begins to rise during the follicular stage.  The general process during this phase consists of estrogen increases FSH production and maturation of follicle release of egg (ovulation).

Important Definitions: 

  • FSH: Follicle Stimulating Hormone (this stimulates follicle development) *The star of this show is FSH which is what the phase "follicular" is based off of
  • LH: Luteinizing Hormone is released at the end of the follicular phase.
  • Brain structures involved include the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.

The hypothalamus releases a hormone that causes the release of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland. The FSH causes follicles (located inside the ovary) to develop into an egg. As this follicle grows, it releases estrogen. FSH helps this egg mature by stimulating the growth of the follicles where the eggs are being stored, where after ovulation, the egg will then be released.

Estrogen has a lot of responsibilities, but in this case it stimulates the development of the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) and causes the cervical mucus to become thinner. All the while, the LH levels that are also rising, the ovarian follicle will rupture, and the egg will be released causing ovulation and the conclusion of the follicular phase.

In summary, the rise of estrogen triggers:

  • the thickening of the endometrium (lining of the uterus) in order to prepare for the egg
  • the production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland
  • the follicle is where the egg stays while it’s inside the ovary
  • the production of the lutenizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland
  • rising of the LH levels cause the ovarian follicle to rupture and release an egg (ovulation)

Progesterone is the hormone mainly responsible for establishing and maintaining pregnancy, so these levels stay low until after ovulation. After ovulation, progesterone will rise while levels of FSH and LH will decline.

- Menstruation (potentially fertile)
Fertility is largely based on your cervical mucus. This phase is non-fertile because the mucus plug that broke down during your period reforms, and then blocks the sperm from entering the uterus through the cervix.
- Follicular (non-fertile)
HOWEVER, it is possible to skip the follicular phase. Those that experience this may have a thin/slippery cervical mucus, which is a sign of the mucus plug NOT reforming and allows the sperm to move easier. This is when a woman is at risk for getting pregnant while experiencing her period.
*Sperm live up to 5 days inside the female reproductive system and the sperm is kept alive by fertile mucus.
- Ovulation (definitely fertile) 

How Does This Affect Us?

By honoring your menstrual phase, you were able to rest and replenish your energy. This meant reconnecting with yourself to then establish a strong foundation to step into this next phase. As the estrogen levels rise in this phase, so will your energy. Your mood will match your energy with an easier sense of focus and ability to problem solve and create.


The gifts of this phase are creativity and stability:

  • Due to an increase in the production of hormones, you also tend to start feeling more energized.
    • This increase in energy can open you up to an increased creative energy.
      • embrace new ideas and allow yourself to take initiative by stepping into new possibilities
      • this fresh, creative perspective allows you to be more future oriented
    • We often feel a stronger sense of stability because we are starting to feel replenished through this production of our hormones.

This phase is all about allowing our increase in energy and sense of stability to fuel our creativity to expand and prepare for the future.

Vulnerabilities, you may experience:

  1. Overwhelm
    • With an increase in energy, it’s easy to get caught up hurrying throughout the day, but remember to check in with yourself and know when you may need to slow down.
    • Daily Affirmations (say out loud to yourself):
      • I will move at a pace that is respectful to my body.
        • Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew!
      • I will make time to rest and replenish my energy.
        • Ever wake up feeling extremely productive, only to jam your morning full of things to do, followed by a crash around 2 or 3pm?
    • Allow your energy to fuel your productivity, but just remember to take the time to reset so that you can continue the momentum instead of crashing.
  2. Anxiety
    • Daily Affirmations:
      • I am not defined by my productivity.
        • Tying your self-worth to productivity can be a setup for anxiety.
        • While we are trying to maximize productivity, it’s important to remember that our value as a human is not relevant to how much we accomplish in a day.
      • I am able to define what matters and focus my attention there.
        • This is an easy time to want to do everything, but you’ll find much more value by being intentional about where you’re investing your energy.
  3. Low Self-Esteem
    • Daily Affirmation:
      • Everything I need is within me.
        • You are capable of handling whatever comes your way. Remind yourself of the badass that you are, even when you may not be feeling that way.

*Reminder - these feelings are not uncommon. All emotions and feelings rise for a certain reason, and there is no such thing as a “bad” emotion. It’s simply important to take notice, be patient with yourself, and manage from there.

To be in alignment with your cycle means to maximize the gifts and minimize the vulnerabilities. In this phase, this means harnessing this increase in energy and funneling it into something creative.

How to Balance

    • Nutrition:
      • Focus: foods that support hormone production, balance rising estrogen, and nourishing growing follicles
        • Fresh, vibrant, lightly prepped foods (steaming, sauteing, raw), foods you may associate with springtime.
        • Plenty of veggies and lean proteins, beans, fermented foods and seeds
        • Energy sustaining dense grains, fiber, and lots of avocados
        • Higher carb utilization during workouts and lower calories needs
    • Movement: should honor your increasing energy levels and be higher intensity.
      • This includes activities such as: 
        • Running/other cardio 
        • Interval Workouts 
        • Ramp up intensity and weights 
        • Leading up to the end of this phase, try a new workout class!
  • MENTAL GOALS: Harness your energy and creativity! 
    • Practices: 
      • Try something new 
      • Plan ahead 
      • Set goals 
      • Take initiative 
      • Journaling: write a letter to your future self of what you hope to be, do, or achieve 
    • Social Life: 
      • Spread your social butterfly wings 
      • Schedule more time with friends and family  
      • Try new things, places, activities
      • Harness your brainpower and creativity for new projects 
    • To-Do: creativity is highest, moods are stable, and energy is high 
      • Mental challenges 
      • Goal setting 
      • Planning 
      • Creative work 
      • New beginnings, learn new things
      • New challenges/routines

Applied to Athletics

 As an athlete, this is a very energizing phase!

  • Athletes have a tendancy to go full throttle all of the time, so phases such as the menstrual phase may feel a bit uncomfortable when our focus revolves around slowing down and resting.
  • So, the transition into a more energizing phase can almost feel like a relief.
  • During this phase, we tend to feel more motivated, and workouts/training tend to feel easier. 
    • Take advantage of the increased energy but don’t take on more than you can handle because of it.