Getting In Tune With Your Cycle

The female body is complex, it can handle an insane amount of stress, and is capable of doing truly amazing things. Many women feel that their bodies are working against them. They don’t understand why they have annoying symptoms or why their energy ebbs and flows. Many of us don’t actually understand what’s going on inside our bodies, which is where the disconnect is. Once I learned more about my cycle and what was actually happening inside my body, I was able to work with my body instead of fighting and forcing it.

 

The key to understanding your cycle is to understand the phases that occur. Your body is going through the same steps to prepare to have a baby every month. This only changes if there are changes in health. Let’s go through the 4 primary reproductive hormones and each phase, why they occur, and what symptoms to look our for.

 

 

Image from www.newhealthadvisor.com

4 Primary Reproductive Hormones:

  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Estrogen
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
  • Progesterone

 

 

 

 

 

Phase 1: Menstruation (3-7 days)

The first phase of your cycle is menstruation. Hormones drop quickly to their lowest concentrations, which is what allows your period to start in the first place. We are actually the closest to being a man during this phase since our female hormones are so low. Many refer to your cycle as being 2 phases just follicular and luteal. I like breaking the cycle down into 4 phases so that its easier to understand what’s actually happening.

Fun Facts 

  • We have the greatest amount of communication between your two brain hemispheres–the left side (analytical) and the right side (more emotional). This makes menstruation a great time to reflect and make decisions.

Nutrition Tip

  • Consider adding in sea veggies like nori, seaweed, or kelp along with grass-fed red meat in order to add more zinc and iron, which is needed during menstruation.

Exercise Tip

  • Your hormones are their lowest during menstruation, which means it’s a great time to go for max effort lifts or workouts. You may be tired the first day or two of your period, that’s normal. A big shift in hormone levels can do that. Rest as needed then hit it hard when you’re up to it!

Relationships

  • This is a great time to turn your attention inward and focus on yourself. Take time to reflect, spend some time alone, journal, meditate, whatever makes you feel connected to yourself.

Phase 2: Follicular (7-10 days)

Cross-section of the female reproductive system from alaska.providence.org

Once menstruation ends, you are now in your follicular phase and your body is preparing about 15-20 eggs for maturation and ovulation. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) increases and is what helps eggs in the ovary mature.* Each egg is enclosed in its own follicle. Follicles give off estrogen, which eventually leads to ovulation.

*We only ovulate in one ovary each month. When you use the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) you can even sometimes feel which ovary you are ovulating in!

 

 

Nutrition Tip

  • Consider adding flaxseeds or pumpkin seeds as well as some fermented foods to help balance the increase in hormones.

Exercise Tip

  • Try a new type of exercise to mix it up from your typical routine.

Relationships

  • Get outside and socialize while doing something active with those you love.

 

Phase 3: Ovulation (3-5 days)

The rise in FSH and LH stimulate the follicle that carries the egg to release it. Estrogen also increases to thicken the uterine lining and prepare it for a fertilized egg. This only occurs if you are having unprotected sex on the day of or near ovulation (we will get into more details in another post all about the Fertility Awareness Method).

Nutrition Tip

  • Consider adding more raw and cruciferous veggies to support your liver in getting rid of excessive hormones that are increasing during this time.

Exercise Tip

  • You typically have more energy during this time, which means bring up the intensity in your workouts and consider a group class.

Relationships

  • This is a great time to be social and make plans or go on a date.

Phase 4: Luteal (10-14 days)

Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone reach their highest concentrations during this phase. Estrogen thickens the uterine lining and progesterone increases to keep the lining in place and ready for a fertilized egg. Because hormones are so high, it’s common to feel more fatigued during the time leading up to menstruation.

Nutrition Tip

  • Consider adding root veggies, beets, leafy green, and cruciferous veggies to help support your liver.

Exercise Tip

  • Use any energy to focus on strength training or intense yoga then scale back as needed. Don’t try to go for any PR’s or max effort exercises.

Relationships

  • Add in more romance with your partner and listen to your intuition.

 

 

As you can see, we have a lot of hormonal shifts throughout each cycle. These impact our energy, mood, appetite, sleep, whether we feel like socializing or not, how our brain functions, whether we want to have sex, and so much more. This is why tracking your cycle and knowing where you are can be extremely helpful for making small lifestyle changes that can make your life much more enjoyable.

 

I’ve used quite a few apps in the past to help track my cycle, but I recently discovered the MyFlo app and I’m obsessed! I highly recommend getting this app and using this to track your cycles. It gives you tips to maximize all different areas of your life based on where you are in your cycle. It’s easy to navigate too!

 

Do you want more support? Join my private support group here. 

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