Written by Amy Parin |
As women, we have all been in the position where we realise our monthly bleed is due and couldn’t be any more unimpressed! Words such as gross, inconvenient, painful, cravings, and all sorts of words come to mind. But what if it didn’t have to be this way?
What if we could change our viewpoint on our periods and cycles to instead create a positive relationship with our menstrual cycles and become more in tune with the inner workings of our beautiful, feminine bodies?
Having experienced many years of my life with irregular cycles and even going a whole year without having a period, it began to make me question how the female body actually works and what actually happens in our bodies to produce our menstrual cycles and all these symptoms and fluctuations we experience?
From my research, I discovered how complex the hormonal system fluctuations are and how they directly influence our mood, weight, appetite, sex drive, skin, body composition and SO much more!
I began to see our bodies and cycles as more of a miracle. I also began to realise how through knowledge and self-awareness we can actually use this phenomenon happening in our bodies each and every month to our advantage instead of seeing it as a hindrance and major disadvantage.
So, your menstrual cycle consists of four predominant phases. In an ideal world your menstrual cycle would go for 28-32 days however for some women this fluctuates or they may have shorter or longer cycles. The phases are written as an example of a 28-day cycle. These phases consist of the menstrual phase (phase 1, days 1-7), follicular phase (phase 2, days 1-14), ovulatory phase (phase 3, day 14) and luteal phase (phase 4, day 14-28).
Your body produces four hormones that are at different levels throughout your cycle. These are:
Oestrogen and progesterone are the unique female sex hormones that give us the womanly figure we have and are major drivers behind the symptoms we may feel alternating between the different phases. With this in mind, I’m about to tell you how these hormones will affect your mood, libido, appetite and more.
Oestrogen is the dominant sex hormone for the first half of your cycle during the follicular and ovulatory phase and begins to increase in amount during menstruation. Oestrogen is responsible for giving you more energy, increasing your libido, making you more flirtatious, curvaceous, and outgoing to help support your body and its activities in order to woo a partner! Therefore, to embrace this phase it would be recommended to plan your social activities, ask your boss for the pay raise you’ve been thinking about, go on a date, engage in more intense physical exercise, and truly get work done! The first half of your cycle is an opportunity to really shine your light and embrace the yang energy that comes with higher levels of oestrogen.
Progesterone has more yin qualities as a hormone causing you to feel sleepier, introverted, introspective, less social, soothing, supporting, and stabilising. Therefore, during your luteal phase, it would be a great time to analyse aspects of your business, spend more time journaling or time out in nature. You may find yourself gravitating more towards lighter exercises like Pilates and yoga. Find out more about when to exercise according to your menstrual cycle in one of our recent blog posts.
Just prior to, and during the beginning of, the menstrual phase of your cycle, your body has its lowest levels of hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen. During this time you may feel more down, prone to breakouts, and have lower energy. You can embrace this phase too by making it more of a rest period during your cycle, where you give yourself time out to really recuperate and reenergise and nourish yourself for the coming month.
Do you see how much fluctuation is happening within our bodies throughout the month?! It can be of great benefit to us as women to embrace these changes and begin to change and shift our schedule to suit our cycles accordingly. This will enable us to be more productive and energised throughout the month as we are in sync with what's occurring biologically and how that affects our mood and ability to work.
Choosing to learn about your cycle and embracing these natural fluctuations creates a deep connection to yourself and your own femininity, which will actually enhance your wellbeing and productivity versus fighting yourself and beating yourself up for feeling different during different phases of the month. It is important to honour yourself and realise that perhaps you are feeling certain things for a reason and it is better not to fight it but embrace it with lifestyle adjustments (which also helps to prevent that dreaded burnout we all experience from time to time!).
If you would like to learn more and are passionate about women's health and wellness you should check out my Instagram @amyjadewellness where I share tips tricks and ways to empower women through learning about themselves and how to better support their bodies.
Amy Jade Parin is a current student at Endeavour College studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy). Amy is passionate about all things women’s health and wellbeing, from mental health, skin issues, gut health, menstrual cycles, hormones as well as managing stress and anxiety.