Understand Your Body And She Will Never Let You Down
Women have a hard time believing me when I say that the menstrual cycle is the love of my life.
Maybe it’s because the only thing you think of when I say the menstrual cycle, is your premenstrual phase and your period, and for a lot of women these phases are hell.
But, have you ever thought about how your period is only one phase of four phases in the menstrual cycle?
Well, TRUTH IS, each woman (including you) has this amazing untapped body clock that consists of a delicate pattern of hormones that weave in and out throughout your entire menstrual cycle. These forever-fluctuating hormones make up the essence of being a female, but most importantly they make up the essence of you and how you feel at particular times of your cycle.
You are probably aware of the times of your cycle where these hormones can sometimes make you eat a packet of tim tams; make you feel like throwing plates and/or cry for no reason. But are you aware of the times in your menstrual cycle where these hormones make you feel most sexy, most confident, most intuitive or the hormones that give you more endurance, more flexibility or better ability to work in a team or as an individual?
This is the point –
The menstrual cycle, is SO MUCH MORE than just your period. Through learning the different phases of your cycle, and understanding your own attitudes/feelings at each phase of the cycle (both positive and negative) –
you begin working with your body, rather than against her.
So below I have added a basic understanding of what you should expect emotionally, physically and hormonally at each phase of your cycle – paraphrased from one of my favourite books “The Optimized Woman” written
by Miranda Gray.
*Note this is based on a 28 day cycle. You do not have to be cycling every 28 days – you may have a longer or shorter cycle, so please adapt the numbers to suit you.
Menstruation or Reflective Phase (Day 1 – 6)
The physical side of menstruation can be difficult, but our hormones at this phase can bring out our most intuitive and authentic self. This is the most profound time of the month to journal your feelings, meditate, review and set your goals. Your energy at this phase may also be at it’s lowest and you may find you have the “I can’t be bothered” attitude. Instead of fighting these feelings, skip the high intensity work out and go for a walk, do some yoga, swim or sleep.
In this phase women often want to override this natural cycle of our body wanting to slow down as we haven’t been taught that a woman’s needs change throughout the month. Therefore in this phase, we can often perceive our abilities and ourselves as inconsistent or “not good enough”. But is so important to remember that to live our most optimal life, we must listen to our body, and if that means lying down and not going to the gym or retiring from work early - so be it. It does not mean that you are a failure, or that you are not good enough - it means you are listening to your body, not fighting her.
· Focus words: Intuition, reflection, forgiveness, restoration, renewal, nurture.
· Focus activities: Journalling, meditation, walking, yoga, swimming and sleeping
· What doesn’t work so well: Expectations of self, high intensity workouts, logical thinking, lack of sleep, commitment, long hours at work.
· Hormonal: Hormonal production of progesterone and oestrogen drops, triggering the shredding of the uterine lining leading to your period.
Follicular phase or Dynamic Phase (Day 7 – 13)
Who doesn’t feel amazing when their period finishes? That’s because this phase brings about feelings of empowerment, productivity and energy! So it's really important that we use this uplifting energy to our advantage.
The Dynamic phase occurs after menstruation and before ovulation. It is the optimum time for mental focus, concentration, learning, researching, structural thinking, independence and physical stamina (all the things societal jobs expect us to be all the time). I find it very beneficial to create my goals during menstruation, because by the time I have reached the Dynamic phase around day 7, my body has the energy and motivation to accomplish my goals.
· Focus words: Independence, physical energy, mental clarity, decision making, action, sociable, positive
· Activities: Create action plans, learn new skills, affirmations, take immediate action on new goals, step out of your comfort zone, high energy exercise.
· What doesn’t work so well: Supporting others at an emotional level (we are too absorbed in our own life), empathy, creativity, “going with the flow”, team work.
· Hormonal: Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) signals your ovaries to prepare for ovulation. Oestrogen increases to thicken your uterine lining.
Ovulation or Expressive Phase (Day 14 – 20)
The expressive phase is a wonderful phase. Not only do we feel our most sexiest, we are also at our most confident, fulfilled, and communicative. Coincidently, this is our fertile phase, so the feelings we experience are often linked to building relationships and connecting with friends, loved ones and/or our partners. This is a time to open up, express yourself, communicate your ideas or concerns with others, empathise, and nuture those who mean the most to you.
· Focus words: Connection, communication, fertility, self-expression, confidence, love, acceptance, patience, understanding, empathy, emotional strength.
· Activities: Dating, connection with family and friends, important conversations, physical touch, peak energy, support others, express yourself!
· What doesn’t work so well: Spending time away alone or from home, trying to be masculine, logical thinking, analysing, over-giving.
· Hormonal: FSH peaks, followed by rise in Lutenizing hormone (LH) that triggers the release of an egg into the fallopian tube (ovulation). Oestrogen levels continue to increase, further thickening your uterus. Testosterone surges and drops shortly after.
Premenstrual/Luteal Phase or Creative Phase (Day 21 – 28)
If there is a phase to clean your room, this is it! Leading up to our period, we can experience an overall gradual decline in stamina and mental ability with an increase in physical tension, frustration, aggression, sensitivity, and feelings from our deepest self. You are probably thinking, “How can this part of my cycle be positive?” But actually, as emotionally and physically hard this phase of our cycle is – it is our most creative. You’ll notice you will have flashes of brilliant insights, ideas, as well as your mind and body going into a deeper level of awareness with action to create, heal and bring new order. That “stuff” that we have stored in our subconscious mind becomes more reachable, so it’s the perfect time to journal, surrender and really respect and feed our intuition.
· Focus words: Awareness, attention, comfort, creativity, nesting, intuition, emotion, subconscious, surrender, vulnerability.
· Activities: Domestic chores, clearing of emotional baggage, nature walks, self care regime, slow exercise, meditation, communication with your heart, manifestation.
· What doesn’t work so well: Logical or rational thinking, teamwork, starting new projects or regimes, structured learning, trying to “fix” yourself or your relationships.
· Hormonal: Progesterone increases (thanks to ovulation), nourishing the uterine lining for hopeful implantation of the egg. FSH and LH reduce. Oestrogen levels continue to rise, as well as increase in testosterone. Soon, progesterone production will halt, triggering your period and the start of the menstrual phase!
The greatest thing I have gained from learning about my own cycle, and the different emotional and behavioural patterns that arise is that I no longer resist what my body is telling me. I have dropped unrealistic expectations of myself at certain phases of my cycle. I no longer push my body more than it needs further exacerbating my PMS. And I can plan my weeks ahead, knowing which weeks are going to be the most productive and what weeks are going to be the most creative. But most importantly, I feel more in tune with my body and I UNDERSTAND HER.
Over your next cycle, I suggest you come back to this page and refer to the words spoken in each phase and see if they relate to you.
I believe, the menstrual cycle (whether it is 20, 29, 35 or 50 days long) is THE perfect opportunity to develop a relationship with your incredible cyclical body from the inside out!
I would love to hear what part of your cycle you are in and whether you resonate with the above.