What is a Menstrual Cycle Phases Chart?
The menstrual cycle refers to the changes within the ovaries and the uterus throughout a roughly 28-day cycle.
What can be tricky to get your head around is that the menstrual cycle is part of two interconnected cycles happening simultaneously within the female reproductive system: the ovarian cycle and the uterine cycle.
As the names suggest, the ovarian cycle refers to the changes within the ovaries, and the uterine cycle relates to changes within the uterus- specifically, the endometrium.
Each of these cycles can be divided into different parts, which we call phases.
To simplify these processes and make working out the beginning of each more accessible, we have developed this simple menstrual cycle phases chart. This chart is designed to condense all the various stages of the menstrual cycle and the associated changes into a single, easy-to-understand resource.
This chart is based on a circular calendar graphic which depicts a 28-day cycle divided into the ovarian and uterine cycle phases. However, it is essential to remember that there is a wide range of normal cycle lengths, and for many individuals, it can be much shorter, longer, or more irregular than 28 days.
How does it work?
As the menstrual cycle is, as it says in the name, a cycle, the chart can be begun on any day as there is no actual start and end point. However, convention often starts at menstruation as, unlike the beginning of other phases, it is easier to determine this day with some certainty.
Therefore, we have denoted day one as the day that menstruation begins. With this in mind, the menstrual cycle phases chart can be filled in with dates to work out key events such as ovulation and the beginnings of different phases. Just follow these simple steps to start using this menstrual cycle phases chart.
- Enter the Date That Menstruation Begins as Day One
When your client begins menstruation, they should set this as day one and enter the date into the space provided in the menstrual cycle phases chart.
- Work Clockwise Around the Chart When Filling Out the Remaining Dates
Once the date of day one is determined, the rest of the dates in the chart can be filled in by working forward by the number of days between day one and the beginning of each phase of the cycle.
- Use the Dates To Plan Your Cycle
Once the remaining dates have been worked out, this chart can be used to plan windows of relative fertility or infertility or when the next menses will occur.
Menstrual Cycle Phases Chart Example (Sample)
Enid is a woman looking to start a family and trying to figure out her fertile window of when she will most likely become pregnant. She begins menstruation on the 9th of January and notes this date down. Look at our menstrual cycle phases chart example to find out when each phase of her cycle will begin, or you can download the menstrual cycle phases chart sample here.
When would you use this Chart?
There are many scenarios where your clients could benefit from this menstrual cycle phases chart.
Due to its visual nature, this menstrual cycle chart works well as an educational resource to explain the timing of different phases of the menstrual cycle and how key events such as ovulation and menstruation tie into these phases.
This resource can help your patients determine the timing of their cycles and when they will likely be most fertile or infertile, depending on their family planning needs.
Tracking menstrual cycles is used as a method of natural contraception by restricting sexual intercourse to times in a female’s cycle when she is least fertile. This method, however, is not foolproof and relies on accurate timing of menstrual cycle events- which this template can assist with.
Research & Evidence
Tracking the phases of the menstrual cycle is a practice that dates back thousands of years, from the Ancient Greeks and Romans, across many different cultural practices, right up to today with our more comprehensive, scientific understanding of the many biological processes that lead to menstruation (Jarrell, 2018).
We now know multiple hormonal and basal body temperature signals can allow us to determine the different phases of the menstrual cycle (Ernst & Watson, 2018). For example, the luteal phase is generally associated with increased basal body temperature (Martini et al., 2017, 1025).
Our knowledge of the role of progesterone and estrogen in maintaining the endometrial lining has allowed for the development of hormonal contraceptive methods such as the contraceptive pill (Kao, 2000).
The different phases included in this menstrual cycle phases chart are well established and published throughout undergraduate medical textbooks and more advanced endocrinology and fertility texts (Martini et al., 2017; Taylor et al., 2020).
However, it is essential to remember that there is significant variation between individuals. The dates presented here are an average 28-day cycle but may only apply to some.
- Ernst, H., & Watson, S. (2018, August). Stages of Menstrual Cycle: Menstruation, Ovulation, Hormones, Mor. Healthline. Retrieved November 8, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/stages-of-menstrual-cycle#ovulation
- Jarrell, J. (2018). The significance and evolution of menstruation. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 50, 18–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2018.01.007
- Kao, A. (2000, June). History of Oral Contraception. American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, 2(6), 55-56. https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/history-oral-contraception/2000-06
- Lucenko, O. Ì. (2019). Menstrual Cycle (O. Ì. Lucenko, Ed.). IntechOpen.
- Martini, F., Ober, W., Nath, J., Bartholomew, E., & Petti, K. (2017). Visual Anatomy and Physiology. Pearson.
- Taylor, H. S., Pal, L., & Seli, E. (2020). Speroff's Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. Wolters Kluwer.