Understanding & Syncing Your Monthly Cycle

 reading time: 7 min





Dear fellow menstruating humans.

For a couple of years now I have been on a journey towards accepting, loving, and celebrating my menstrual cycle – in specific my period.

Why?

Because for the longest time (more than 10 years of me menstruating) I have absolutely hated getting my period. It was painful, it was a mess. I have always had a very heavy flow, leaving me not only very iron-deficient, but also very uncomfortable and insecure in public situations like school, university, work, or even meeting up with people. And when I say I have a heavy flow I mean: when I'm on my period I wear a menstrual cup PLUS a thick cotton pad PLUS period underwear. And even with all these precautions, I have to change my menstrual cup every 2 hours or so on the two super heavy days of my period (which usually lasts 7 days).

I can completely understand why I loathed having my period.

But it's such a terrible feeling, hating and being in conflict with your own body. I didn't want to feel that way any longer. That's when I made the first changes: I stopped using tampons and switched to a menstrual cup, which already made such a huge difference and made my bleeding feel so much "cleaner". It took me another couple of years – until about 1 1/2 years ago – that I switched to reusable cotton pads, which again made my period feel much more "peaceful". I don't know if that makes sense, but that's just how I felt.

Since my intimate area wasn't constantly dried out and sore due to the tampons, and it also wasn't pressed against all of the chemicals that are known to be in sanitary pads any longer, it helped tremendously with feeling more at peace with my period.

However, one of the most important changes on my gradual shift towards embracing and actually enjoying (!!) my period was understanding the different phases of the menstrual cycle, and adjusting my life accordingly.


DISCLAIMER:

I am not a physician, and the information provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


The Four Seasons of the Menstrual Cycle

There are four phases of the menstrual cycle that can be attributed to the different seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, and autumn, with winter being the menstrual phase.


WINTER : The Menstrual Phase (Day 1-5)

Like the season, this phase of the cycle is about hibernation, rest and reflection. Our energy is usually lowest around this time. The hormones oestrogen and progesterone are both low, the lining of the uterus sheds and causes bleeding, so it is best to take it slow. Go for a walk or do some gentle stretching or yoga (yin yoga is great), if you feel like it. Or just stay in bed and binge-watch your favourite show, if that's an option. I personally try to postpone any chores that I might have on the heaviest and most painful day (usually day 2 of the bleeding), if that's possible. Unfortunately, that is not always possible, thanks to our current work environment.

If you are too antsy to just lay on the sofa and sleep during your menstruation, great mental activities for this phase are analysing, reporting, and improving any systems or processes. Limit social activities, and plan in more sleep. Perhaps you feel like meditating, journaling and reflecting about things you'd like to change.

Eat warming and nutritious foods such as lentil stews, soups, roasted root vegetables, or your favourite comfort food. Add some healthy fats such as pumpkin seeds or nuts to your meals. Your body needs iron + vitamin C, omega 3, b 12, b 6, calcium, magnesium, and protein during this phase.

Similar to the new moon, this is also a great time to surrender and let go of what is no longer serving you. Make time and space for yourself. Maybe light some candles, and do a calming cacao ceremony if you like. Whatever makes you feel good! This is a time of self-care, self-love, and self-reflection.


SPRING : The Follicular Phase (Day 6-16)

Just like our mood usually brightens once the dark and quiet winter time is over, the follicular phase or pre-ovulation phase is often when we feel our most dynamic, creative and adventurous. Our brain power and our energy levels are strong, since oestrogen and progesterone levels are rising again, and we might want to do more intense workouts such as running, or try out new types of exercises.

This is a great time for problem-solving, coming up with new ideas, brainstorming, learning new things, researching, planning projects or social events, and concentrating on a single task.

Eat lighter foods such as lightly cooked or even raw vegetables, such as salads. Fermented foods are also great. Your body needs probiotics, fibre, vitamin E, and B vitamins. I also continue supplementing iron, and making sure to combine any iron-rich meals with a vitamin C source like lemon juice.

After that cleansing menstrual flow, you probably feel cleansed, refreshed and energized. Almost like being reborn. Your sex drive might be increased, so enjoy being flirty and playful, if you like! It can also be nice to tend to your intimate area with a soothing yoni oil.


SUMMER : The Ovulatory Phase (Day 15-17)

Unlike the other phases, this phase only lasts a couple of days. Your hormones reach their peak, since oestrogen is spiking, and testosterone and progesterone are also increasing. This is your most fertile phase,
which physically shows in your cervical mucus becoming clear, slippery and wet. Be sure to use protection if you're not planning to get pregnant!

Your hormonal peak also results in you not only feeling, but also appearing more attractive and self-confident! Which is what makes this phase the perfect time for any important meetings such as job interviews, photo shootings, recording videos, date nights etc. ;-)
Overall this is a great time for socializing, teamwork, building new relationships, communication and productivity. High-impact exercises like running, weight-lifting, circuit workouts and group classes are also recommended.

Due to your fertility you might also feel more outgoing and sexually active, so embrace your sexuality and your sensuality, and either connect with your partner or with yourself in a loving way, such as using a yoni egg. You might also be more drawn to attending events and parties.

Enjoy fresh foods such as salads, fruits, smoothies, and cruciferous vegetables. Your body needs magnesium, B vitamins, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, zinc, and fibre.

Like the full moon, this energy invites you to enjoy and celebrate yourself. (Often times, your ovulation will actually fall around a full moon, whereas your bleeding phase might take place around the new moon. This is called a "white moon cycle" and is the most common, indicating a woman to be in the "mother" phase of her life. However, if your periods are aligned with the full moon, this is called a "red moon cycle", which is focused on channelling their creative energy inward instead of outward, and is said to be common amongst healers, priestesses, witches, and medicine women.)


AUTUMN : The Luteal Phase (Day 18-28)

After an exciting summer phase, your body is starting to slow down and prepare for hibernation / menstruation. Oestrogen levels are reducing, and progesterone levels increase, leaving you with a natural need for calm and relaxation. The luteal phase or pre-menstrual phase is mostly known for the premenstrual symptoms many people experience during this time. You may feel exhausted, bloated, foggy, or a decrease in libido.

Your energy levels might fluctuate, and you might face mood swings and other emotional challenges such as your inner critic, struggling with setting your boundaries, feeling aggressive or powerless. Journal to reflect on your feelings, and hold space for anything that comes up. This phase assists any kind of "nesting" activities, such as organizing, completing tasks on your to-do list, or decluttering or decorating your home.

Listen to your body. Be kind to yourself. Rest. If you do exercise, choose more restorative movements such as stretching, stress-relieving yoga, pilates, or nature walks. Pamper your body with
a face mask or a loving self-breast massage or foot massage.

Include more bitter greens (dandelion, arugula, chicory, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, watercress, mugwort, yarrow, or powdered bitter greens) in your diet, as well as cruciferous vegetables and liver-supporting herbs (dandelion root, turmeric, milk thistle, burdock root, green tea, ginger). G
rounding foods such as root vegetables, dark leafy greens, avocado, and grains are great, for example in a nourishing Buddha bowl or a hearty soup. Your body needs vitamin B, vitamin A, zinc, magnesium, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre.


Do you notice the different phases during your cycle? How do you feel during each phase, each season of your cycle? What can you do to support yourself during your cycle?



Maisy

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