# in the simplest terms the menstrual cycle can be divided into 2 phases
> In the simplest terms, the menstrual cycle can be divided into two phases that are separated by ovulation; follicular (begins at the onset of menses) and luteal (post ovulation).[[(Elliott-Sale et al., 2021)#^kkc1q]]
[[classifying the menstrual cycle into just 2 phases does not distinguish the multiple hormonal changes that occur within these 2 phases]]
Our menstrual cycle is divided into 2 halves.
The follicular phase is the first half of our cycle and starts from the first day of our period through to ovulation.
The luteal phase is the second half of our cycle starting after ovulation and lasting until our following bleed.
Now this this is usually how you will see it referred to in text books and in research. So again the follicular phase is the first half of the cycle and the luteal phase is the second half of the cycle.
There are also 2 major events.
Menstruation and ovulation. Both of which are part of the follicular phase.
However, you will also see these events referred to as phases (especially in many popular science books) and so that is how I am going to use these terms, as 4 distinct phases.
1. Menstruation: The bleeding phase
2. Follicular phase: After bleeding has stopped and before ovulation
3. Ovulation: The release of an egg
4. Luteal phase: After ovulation and before the next bleed
However again please note that *technically* the follicular phase also includes menstruation and ovulation.
So let’s look at these 4 stages in more detail so that you can understand the science behind the changes in our body, mind, mood and behaviours in each of these phases.