Sorry men, this blog is dedicated to the ladies… BUT what I would say, is that if you are married or in a relationship this could be really helpful to you to understand certain things they may need or be expressing at certain times, so don’t completely throw it out!
This blog is going to be a quick review of a few things for the ladies, to help them understand their cycles, what happens with their hormones, and why they crave certain things or feel a certain way during hormonal changes to help them balance their cycles naturally. Keep in mind this is just general information, if there are other things going on like improper elimination, toxins, bugs or other stressors these are also big hormone disruptions, just cycle syncing won’t be enough.
Additionally, I will be creating a fertility course very soon that I’m working on, as the miscarriage and infertility rates continue to skyrocket. So, this will just be scratching the surface, as I don’t want to reveal it all in one blog.
Okay, lets get into it…
First off, many women are never taught what actually happens during the month with hormones.
So here’s an image (NOT MINE), that shows what a normal cycle (28 days) should look like:
There are 5 hormones that govern your menstrual cycle: estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulation hormone, luteinizing hormone and testosterone. How much your body is releasing during the month changes about 4 times during your cycle. That is why it is broken down into 4 phases: follicular, ovulatory, luteal and menstrual. These phases don’t just guide your reproductive abilities, but also how you feel physically and emotionally. By being able to sync what these specific hormones are doing, you can actually create structure in your hormones. This goes back to the principle of using your body as a tool, to perform better and smarter every single day.
I’m going to go through each of these 4 phases, what is happening and give tips of how you typically feel and best lifestyle recommendations to help optimize each phase. Additionally when we talk about days 1-28, day one is the first day of bleeding for reference.
What if you are on birth control? These recommendations are for those not on birth control, as birth control has actually many detrimental health effects for women. With birth control you don’t have a follicular phase and you don’t ovulate. These hormones trick the brain to think you’re pregnant. You can still try to sync with being on birth control, but it will look different. When you finish the last day of your period, the next day is your follicular phase for 7 days. The next is the first day of your ovulatory phase (4 days), the next luteal(12) and then menstrual (5).
ONE- FOLLICULAR PHASE- lasts 7-10 days
Hormonally: The hypothalamus in your brain signals your pituitary gland in your brain to send FSH to your ovaries, telling them to get ready to release another egg. Several egg follicles start to swell to prepare. Estrogen increases to thicken the lining of your uterus so that it can be able to take care of the egg.
Bodily: Typically through this phase your energy may increase, and you sometimes feel restless. Initially you don’t have vaginal secretions, but it starts to increase here: usually white in color and tacky or sticky in texture.
Optimizing: Creativity and new beginnings usually happen within this phase. This is usually a time when directing your energy into stimulating projects is more successful. Your brain’s creativity at this time is higher, so problem solving or brainstorming is easier during this phase.
Emotionally: You feel more outgoing, energized, upbeat, great to schedule in new experience activities during this time.
Foods: Fresh and light foods usually make you feel more energized during this time when hormone levels are at their lowest. As you know i’m a big fan of customization, but i’d say many women can crave lighter meals during this part like a salad, chicken and eggs, and sometimes grains. Avocados are known to improve follicular ovulatory transition, so lots of good healthy grass fed meats and avocados.
Exercise: Trying a new exercise routine is often successful here. Doing a new exercise will seem easy in this phase, and you’ll also be forming new neural connections, which means it’s a bit easier to step out of your comfort zone exercising and doing something new. New activities are also likely to stick more when started during this time.
TWO- OVULATORY PHASE lasts 3-4 days
Hormonally: A sharp rise in FSH followed by LH, stimulates a follicle in the ovary to swell and burst, releasing an egg into one of the fallopian tubes, which then travels to the uterus. Estrogen levels increase, thickening the lining of the uterus, and also supports immune cells in the uterus. Testosterone surges and then drops right around ovulation.
Bodily:Vaginal discharge increases, and is clear, wet, slippery, or stretchy on your day of peak fertility. Sometimes you may feel a little twinge with the release of the egg as well as a surge of energy OR a sense of cravings or headache(if not balanced).
Optimizing: Community connection is strong here. A great time to have important conversations, as your communication skills are heightened here. Maybe ask for a raise during this period..
Foods: Lots of energy here, and mood is usually good because of all the estrogen, so go easy on grain carbohydrates here, and stick to things like quinoa or carbs from fruits and veggies. Fiber helps to aid in elimination of excess estrogen, so fruit and veggies are helpful here. Steaming those veggies is also pretty important. Lamb and grass fed meat is a good option here. Foods here are meant to promote vascular and antioxidant well being for your ovaries to create the best eggs.
Exercise: Typically high impact workouts and group settings work well here. Energy levels are high, so more strenuous exercise is easier here like weightlifting, plyometrics.
THREE- LUTEAL PHASE lasts 10-14 days
Hormonal: The follicle in which the egg bursted out of has something called a corpus luteum which produces progesterone. This rise in progesterone tells the body to keep the uterus lining strong, and tells the brain to stop sending out FSH and LH, so only one egg is released. If the egg isn’t fertilized the corpus luteum is reabsorbed by the body (pretty cool right?), progesterone goes back down, and this triggers your period.
Bodily: physical energy goes down, if hormones are unbalanced, may experience bloating, irritability, headache, mood swings and cravings.
Optimizing: Comfort is higher here. You’ll notice you want to nest more like cleaning your home, reorganizing, laundry, grocery shopping etc, or maybe even saving all those activities for just this week. The ratio of progesterone and estrogen may make you realize things you didn’t before, and your brain prioritizes things. Many women also prioritize self care during this phase, and less social engagements.
Foods: Foods rich in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and fiber are great here which promote progesterone production as well as minerals helping to mitigate the fluid retention and fiber helps flush out excess estrogen through the bowels. Natural sugar like honey and fruit, or roasting veggies helps with the huge dip in estrogen that occurs in the second half, which can make you feel irritable. B vitamins are best bioavailable in organ meats and grass fed/finished meats.
Exercise: The first half your energy may still be high, so more strenuous activities are great like in ovulation. During the final days less strenuous is better like walking/hiking, pilates…
FOUR- MENSTRUAL CYCLE lasts 3-7 days
Hormonally: progesterone is at the lowers, which makes the uterus to start shedding the lining- AKA bleeding. Estrogen dropping stimulates the brain to prepare another cycle of ovulation.
Bodily: brown spotting and red bleeding happens here. Sometimes women experience a sense of relaxation and relief as your estrogen peak passes. Imbalance here results in pelvic cramping, low back pain, fatigue and cravings.
Brown stains? You may have lower progesterone, which mean your cycle doesn’t start on time. Dark red or black clots? low progesterone, too high estrogen, and congestion. Heavy Bleeding? can be a sign of fibroids or polyps and it’s important to get evaluated. Eat plenty of grass fed meats for iron, organs and beets. Short bleeding? low estrogen and progesterone, which are nutritional deficiencies and adrenal burnout. Get your nutritional markers tested. Frequent bleeds? Sluggish thyroid, so might want to get a full thyroid panel.
****Also, it best to NOT use tampons as much as possible. They create carbon monoxide, which also makes women cramp and bloat. Try menstrual cups or chemical free pads (don’t want to add in more toxins to a sensitive area).
Optimizing: Self analysis and course correction happen here. During this phase the communication between left and right brain is more powerful. Check in here, you may feel stronger pushes of intuition. If you come up with the same fears, thoughts or issues every month it is usually here, and it’s meant to allow you to push into what it is that needs to be changed/healed. You’re not just “emotional”.
Foods: An intense process is happening during this phase, so low glycemic foods, and water rich fruits and veggies are great. Seafood and grass fed meats help remineralize your body with iron and zinc, which you lose during menstruation. Soups and stews are helpful here, as warmth heals the uterus.
Exercise: Rest and recovery. Walking or stretching during the first two days, and towards the end you’ll be able to ramp up your activity again.
Notice, that exercise is so different during each phase… Meaning that doing things or workouts like running everyday, or high intensity workouts every day, or weight training everyday is not really ideal for how our body’s as women work. In fact, it can stress these hormones out even more… Thats why its important to sync up and listen to the cues… If you’re exhausted, don’t go do a high intensity workout and if you feel energy, try something a bit more challenging.
By learning about these phases and not pushing beyond your means you’ll also be able to balance your stress hormones more and your blood sugar levels. This will take a big paradigm shift in the relationship you may have with your body. However, the lack of relationship is what got the cycle so dysfunctional in the first place. Don’t push against your hormones.
There’s more than goes into this, but I hope it was a helpful tool for you, and that you can share to many women all over!!
If you’ve enjoyed my book Freedom Brain, I ask that you PLEASE write a review on amazon! I truly would appreciate it, it helps us get the word out about it:)