Cycle Syncing: How to Work with Your Menstrual Cycle for Optimal Well-Being

Cycle Syncing: How to Work with Your Menstrual Cycle for Optimal Well-Being

Have you ever heard of an infradian rhythm? An infradian rhythm is a natural biological cycle (similar to the 24 hour circadian rhythm) that your body goes through that takes longer than 24 hours. Your menstrual cycle is an infradian rhythm, and the hormonal changes that your body undergoes each month affect nearly every aspect of your life and how you feel in your body. 

There are four distinct phases of the menstrual cycle that reflect natural hormonal fluctuations and alter your body's requirements for nutrition, sleep, exercise, and even sex. Cycle syncing is the practice of using the four distinct hormonal phases of your menstrual cycle as a guide to understanding what your body needs in terms of nutrition, exercise, and self-care. 

When you practice cycle syncing you adapt your daily habits to the phase of your menstrual cycle to optimize your well-being. 

In this article, we will explore these four phases of the menstrual cycle, the hormones that govern your cycle, and how to adjust your daily habits during the different phases of your cycle to optimize your well-being.

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle

Before diving into the intricacies of cycle syncing, let's review the basics of the menstrual cycle. 

The average menstrual cycle typically spans 28 days, variations are common and can range from shorter cycle lengths to longer cycle lengths depending on your unique hormone configuration and lifestyle choices. These variations occur in the follicular phase of the cycle. Even when your body has predictable timing each cycle is unique. Your hormones are especially sensitive to physical and psychological stress, which is why stress can impact how and when your cycle shows up and how intense your cramps or PMS are.

It's crucial to remember that your body follows its own rhythm, and that nourishing yourself through healthy sleeping, eating, and exercise habits is the best way to support the monthly cycle and hormonal balance. 

Hormones and Their Role

You can imagine the menstrual cycle like a symphony of hormones, each playing an important part in creating a beautiful and intricate piece of music. There are a few key hormones that play a role in your cycle, and how you feel. 

  1. Estrogen: This hormone takes center stage during the follicular phase, promoting feelings of vitality and optimism. It also supports the development of the egg. Estrogen impacts vaginal lubrication and your libido, as estrogen levels rise you might notice an increase or change in your sex drive and your vaginal moisture. 
  2. Progesterone: Progesterone shines in the luteal phase, helping prepare the body for potential pregnancy and stabilizing mood. Progesterone itself means “promoting gestation” though this hormone does far more than prepare the body for a potential pregnancy, studies show that Progesterone plays an important role in PMS.
  3. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs during the early part of the cycle, and plays a crucial role in ovulation.
  4. Luteinizing hormone (LH): LH triggers ovulation, the release of the egg from the ovary.
  5. Testosterone: Many people don’t realize that females also produce testosterone. Testosterone can have a large impact on our sex drive and energy levels. Testosterone levels peak during the ovulatory phase. 

The Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

Phase 1: Menstrual Phase (On Average: Days 1-5)

Menstruation is the beginning of the menstrual cycle. During the menstrual phase your estrogen and progesterone drop, causing your body to shed the uterine lining, which is the blood that has built up in your uterus in preparation for a fertilized egg. 

Phase 2: Follicular Phase (On Average: Days 6-14)

As estrogen takes the lead, energy levels rise. Your body also starts to increase your testosterone levels giving you more energy. This is usually a time where creativity and productivity increases, and so do your energy levels. You might feel more social and energetic. 

Phase 3: Ovulatory Phase (On Average: Day 14)

Ovulation, a critical moment in your cycle, typically occurs around day 14. Fertility is at its peak during this time so you might feel like your sex drive is higher than other phases of your cycle and like your energy levels are at their peak. 

Phase 4: Luteal Phase (On Average: Days 15-28)

As progesterone dominates, estrogen and testosterone start to decline along with LH and FSH, you may experience mood shifts and physical discomfort. This is typically the time where symptoms of PMS start to show up such as changes in mood and body. 

Cycle Syncing for Optimal Well-Being

The heart of cycle syncing is aligning your daily activities with your menstrual cycle to optimize your well-being. There are three key areas we focus on in this article: exercise, nutrition, and self-care. 

Phase 1: Menstrual Phase 

Physical: It's traditionally a time of rest and release. Physically, your uterus is heavier and larger than other phases of your cycle. Resting is encouraged, especially if you have cramps or feel tired. Gentle movements during these days can look like yin yoga, gentle stretching, warm epsom salt baths. 

Nutritional: Warming foods like mineral rich soups or bone broth that are easy to digest. Iron rich food foods to replenish your blood and magnesium rich foods to support cramps. 

Self-Care Theme: Cat naps, bed girl days, journal your dreams, relish in the joy of being alone. 

Pro Tip: Our bestsellers for menstrual cramps are all inside our Cramps Be Gone kit, a whole body approach to helping you find relief & comfort. 

Phase 2: Follicular Phase 

Physical: With energy levels on the rise this is a great time for high-intensity workouts like cardio or strength training. You might be feeling more social, so a group class that challenges you and lets you connect with others is a great option. 

Nutritional: Nutrient rich foods like lean proteins and pastured eggs, whole grains, dark leafy greens, fermented foods to support your digestion, and healthy fats like olive oil or ghee. 

Self-Care Theme: Social butterfly, try new things, have a tea party, go out and dance. You’ll likely be feeling more social during this phase of your cycle, so spend time connecting with your friends and community. If you have been wanting to finish a project, start something new, or feel inspired this is a great time to kick off and bring to life what is inspiring you. 

Phase 3: Ovulatory Phase (On Average: Day 14)

Physical: This phase is when your energy is peaking, a great time to continue high intensity workouts, and strength training. If you are wanting to get pregnant this is your window, if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy this is the time to use precaution & protection (even though you’re likely feeling more turned on than usual). 

Nutritional: This is an optimal time to increase your healthy omega-3 fat intake, whether through healthy fish or nuts and seeds. Fresh fruit, crunchy vegetables, and lighter complex carbohydrates like millet, quinoa, or amaranth are all great options. 

Self-Care Theme: You are the full moon. Shine bright. Everyone wants to be near your magic. Plant your seeds of intention. Have lots of juicy sex (with caution if you don’t want to conceive). 

Phase 4: Luteal Phase (On Average: Days 15-28)

Physical: You’ve probably heard the term luteal as another way to refer to PMS, or the time of the month when you experience a bigger change in your mood, or changes such as bloating or premenstrual cramping. Remember that lots is happening hormonally during your luteal phase, opt for gentle, calming exercises during the luteal phase to alleviate discomfort. Slow down your strength training - especially during the later half of the luteal phase, and try switching to yoga, swimming, or walking instead. 

Nutritional Needs: Incorporate magnesium-rich foods like dark chocolate and leafy greens to support relaxation and mood stability. Foods high in vitamin B are very helpful during this phase as well, like pastured lean meats or lentils. Keep up your healthy fat intake. 

Self-Care Theme: Become the queen of self care, organize your life, enjoy long walks in nature, permission to watch netflix and hide when needed. Practice self-compassion and mindfulness to navigate mood fluctuations with ease.

Pro-Tip: Keep track of your symptoms to better understand your unique luteal phase and what makes you feel more comfortable and at ease inside and out.

Your cycle is magic, even when it doesn’t feel like it. It is what connects you to all of nature, as these phases are a form of your own internal seasons. When we choose to support our bodies with extra care and we take the time to get more familiar with the physical ways we can support ourselves as hormones fluctuate, it’s much more likely that our hormones will be balanced and that our cycle will be more enjoyable. Remember that if you are making lifestyle changes, to do a little bit at a time so you don’t overwhelm yourself. One step in the right direction over time starts to make a big difference. 


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