Have you ever experienced changes in confidence, mood, motivation, energy, appetite and cravings during your menstrual cycle ? Have you ever reflected on how it relates to where you are in your menstrual cycle? In this post, we dive deep into the phases of the menstrual cycle, how the female hormones work, and how you can take advantage of the changes during the phases of the menstrual cycle. When you understand your body better, you will be able to get the most out of yourself both from a health perspective, on a personal level, in training, relationships, at work and life in general.
Using the menstrual cycle as a tool
For those of you with a female biology, the menstrual cycle is your natural internal rhythm. Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, it is natural to feel and feel differently from day to day or from phase to phase. The menstrual cycle is largely predictable (even if it sometimes doesn't feel like it) because a similar pattern repeats itself from month to month in a regular menstrual cycle. This means that you can use your menstrual cycle as information and a tool.
Which hormones affect the menstrual cycle?
Your hormones affect you in many ways. They have an impact on how you feel, what energy level you have, your confidence, focus, how hungry you are and how hungry you are for intimacy. The hormones affect whether your body burns or stores fat and how well you sleep. They also affect your mood, whether you feel calm or anxious, whether you feel social or withdrawn. This in turn affects how you talk to yourself, what food choices you make or how you choose to act and react in everyday life. Bottom line, our hormones have a big impact on our lives.
The hormones that control the menstrual cycle are primarily the key hormones: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which rise and fall according to a certain pattern during the menstrual cycle. Estrogen dominates the first half of the menstrual cycle with a strong peak at ovulation. After ovulation, progesterone dominates. Estrogen is moderately high during the second half until menstruation, when estrogen drops and is at its lowest. Testosterone peaks at ovulation. The hormone FSH contributes to egg production and is at its highest during menstruation and ovulation. The hormone LH contributes to ovulation and is at its highest before and in connection with ovulation.
Every week we meet women in the community who experience different challenges connected to the menstrual cycle. It can be anything from irregular or missed ovulation, difficulty getting pregnant, missed periods, PCOS, PMS or PMDS. Various symptoms that can appear in the form of menstrual-related problems are information from the body that we can learn to read and often prevent through our lifestyle. The beauty is that many symptoms and diagnoses are based on hormonal imbalances and these can often be prevented or reduced with the help of lifestyle changes. Just because it is common to experience period-related problems such as PMS does not mean that it is normal or something you should have to live with.
How long is the menstrual cycle?
Exactly how long the menstrual cycle is varies from woman to woman and sometimes even from month to month. From a health point of view, a "normal" menstrual cycle is between approximately 26-32 days. Most of the time when talking about the menstrual cycle, one assumes a 28-day cycle because that is the average of a healthy menstrual cycle, although only 13 percent of women actually experience exactly 28 days. If you have a short, long or irregular menstrual cycle, it may be a sign that your hormones are not completely in balance and/or that there are parts of your lifestyle that affect your hormones negatively.
What are the different phases of the menstrual cycle?
In Womensync, we have divided the menstrual cycle into three phases:
Phase 1 = The days when we have our period
Phase 2 = the day after the last day of menstruation until ovulation
Phase 3 = the day after ovulation until the next period.
In medicine and healthcare, the menstrual cycle is traditionally divided into two parts, the follicular phase (Womensync's phases one and two) and the luteal phase (Womensync's phase three). We believe that dividing the menstrual cycle into two phases is too general, as the first and second part of the follicular phase differ from each other through the physical marker of having a period or not.
Dividing the menstrual cycle into three phases clearly distinguishes both the physical, mental and emotional shifts that many women recognize during the course of the month. This division makes it easy for you to know which phase you are in and how you can sync your lifestyle choices to the phase you are in. The phases are based on what happens in the body and what you may need in each phase.
So you can experience the phases of the menstrual cycle
In this section, we describe the three phases based on how many of us women can experience them in everyday life. Perhaps you will recognize yourself in the physical description in one phase, but not the emotional one, or vice versa. Some women barely notice changes between the different phases, while others notice significant differences. What we women have in common is that our hormones follow a pattern that we can take advantage of and use to our advantage. It is a dimension that few women know about and use today.
Phase 1 of the menstrual cycle
Phase one is the days when you have your period, i.e. from the first to the last day of your period. How many days the period lasts is different from person to person and can also vary slightly from menstrual cycle to menstrual cycle, which means that phase 1 is different in length for different people. The hormones are at their lowest at the beginning of the period, which can be reflected in how we can experience our mood and our body physically at the beginning of phase one.
At the beginning of the period, many people recognize themselves in being a little more tired than usual. It depends on the processes that take place in the body when we have to get rid of the mucous membrane (what becomes the period). As the days go by, the energy will increase more and more. This is because estrogen is raised, which can also have other effects such as feeling inspired around new ideas and feeling a drive to want to put them into action. Phase one is the start of a new cycle which is really perfect for making sure to start new projects or habits.
Tip phase 1 (when you have your period)
- Set aside time at the beginning of the phase to take care of yourself and give yourself extra love.
- To reduce any symptoms linked to menstruation, you can use exercise (in the forms that feel right for the body) as a tool to increase your well-being.
- Take the opportunity to use the energy that rises within you for a fresh start and to initiate positive change.
- As the energy increases, you can make sure to schedule meetings and social events for the end of the phase where you can get the most out of yourself and your capacity.
Phase 2 of the menstrual cycle
Phase two begins when the period ends and lasts until ovulation, which usually occurs around day fourteen of a twenty-eight-day cycle. If you have a shorter cycle, ovulation occurs earlier and if you have a longer cycle, it occurs later.
During phase 2, estrogen continues to increase and peaks at ovulation. Estrogen is the hormone that makes you experience higher energy, that you feel more social and that you can feel a biological confidence boost. The hormone testosterone also peaks at ovulation, which contributes to feeling extra strong, persistent and light in the body. It is before and during ovulation that the body is biologically set to reproduce, which means that you are fertile on these days - this is also often reflected in increased sex drive! You may simply experience an increased attraction or desire to be physically close to other people. The days before and during ovulation when we are fertile are called "the fertile window" and these are the days you can get pregnant.
Tip phase 2 (before ovulation)
- You are at your strongest physically in phase two, use your physical capacity and challenge yourself.
- With your hormonal confidence boost, this is the time to dare to push yourself outside your comfort zone - now is when it feels easiest.
- Your high energy provides a perfect opportunity to be a "doer". You are in your productive prime.
- This is a great opportunity to take the opportunity to socialize and network as you can feel at your most outgoing and self-confident.
- With the increased testosterone, this is the phase to plan a date with your partner or someone you are attracted to.
- Give yourself room to recover so you can maintain a balanced energy in the long term.
Phase 3 of the menstrual cycle
Phase three begins the day after ovulation and lasts until you get your next period. It is during phase 3 that the hormones shift the most, which is often reflected in the physical, emotional and mental fluctuations that can be experienced in this phase. If the hormones are not completely balanced, you can feel how moods and emotions can be turned upside down from one day to the next. Maybe you feel at your best one day only to feel completely down the next day. Maybe you recognize yourself? If you do, it's important to remind yourself that it's just your hormones and that it's a phase that will pass. It is thus in phase three that you can experience various PMS symptoms, which can be experienced both physically and emotionally. Continue to pay attention to when your symptoms appear and chart the patterns from month to month.
Tip phase 3 (before period)
- This phase is perfect for giving yourself space for reflection and personal development, to look inward. Give yourself time to read, write or create.
- Give yourself time to do things that make you feel good. Plan activities that give you an emotional boost.
- Physical proximity and touch can give you increased feelings of happiness and thus be a good tool for increased well-being.
- Do not make revolutionary decisions: do not end relationships, do not close projects, companies and ideas, do not resign from work. Wait until the next phase and see if the feeling lasts.
- When you live a lifestyle in sync with your menstrual cycle, you will experience fewer (or no) period-related discomforts in phase 3.
As a woman, our hormones change according to a monthly cycle, which makes it quite natural that energy, emotions, need for sleep, sex drive, physical capacity and hunger change depending on where you are in the menstrual cycle. Exactly how your menstrual cycle manifests itself can vary from cycle to cycle and is affected to a large extent by how your lifestyle looks in terms of: nutrition, are you eating enough, are you getting the nutrients you need and can you absorb the nutrients in it you eat. It can also be about parts such as eating things you cannot tolerate or drinking/eating things that block the absorption of important nutrients. Other elements that come into play are physical activity, recovery, stress and toxins you are exposed to in your everyday life. If you haven't read our book Womensync - For a life in sync with your female biology, tips to do so. In the book, we cover everything about female biology and how you can influence it through lifestyle.
It is so important to start working with your cyclical changes, instead of against them. There are no limits to what you as a woman can achieve when you have the right tools. Knowledge is power, and with the right knowledge, you have the power to create positive change for yourself. Just because it's common to experience period-related discomfort doesn't mean it's normal or something you have to live with.
Note: This blog post is for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure. If you have health problems, it is important to discuss them with an expert. We work closely with the Livakliniken , which is run by one of Womensync's external experts, Maria Särén, where you can turn if you are looking for advice. Please state "Womensync" when booking.
If you like this post, tips to also read:
What does a "normal" menstrual cycle look like?
Part 1: Everything You Need to Know About Estrogen (And How to Reduce PMS)
Part 2: Everything You Need to Know About Progesterone (And How It Can Reduce PMS)
If you have just come off the pill and want to understand your body better, read the following post: How do I track my menstrual cycle after the pill? . Also, don't miss our in-depth series on how to get a full grasp of your menstrual cycle: Part I: Understanding your menstrual cycle - cervical secretions , Part II: Understanding your menstrual cycle - measuring body temperature and Part III: Understanding your menstrual cycle - cervix .
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