How does the menstrual cycle look like?
|Phase||Days (approx.)||What happens|
|Menstrual (part of follicular phase)||1-5||Estrogen and progesterone are low. The lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, is shed, causing bleeding.|
|Follicular||6-14||Estrogen and progesterone are on the rise.|
|Ovulatory||15-17||Estrogen peaks. Testosterone and progesterone rise.|
|Luteal||18-28||Estrogen and progesterone levels are high. If the egg isn’t fertilized, then hormones decrease and menstrual cycle starts again.|
According to a study from the Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, fluctuations of hormones over the monthly menstrual cycle play a crucial role in our emotional status, appetite, thought processes, and so much more. Women reported high levels of well-being and self-esteem during the middle of the cycle in the study. Increased feelings of anxiety, hostility, and depression were reported before their period.
While everyone can benefit from cycle syncing, there are certain groups who may benefit the most. These groups include women:
- with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- who are overweight
- who are overly fatigued
- who want their libido back
- who want to conceive
Exercising and the hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle
|Phase||What exercise to do|
|Menstrual||Light movements may be best during this stage.|
|Follicular||Try light cardio. Your hormones are still low, especially testosterone. This may cause low stamina.|
|Ovulation||Opt for circuit, high-intensity exercises, as energy may be higher.|
|Luteal||Your body is preparing for another period cycle. Energy levels may be low. Doing light to moderate exercise may be best.|
Exercises according to your cycle
- Menstrual: Rest is key. Pamper yourself. Focus on yin and kundalini yoga and opt for meditative walks through nature rather than pushing yourself.
- Follicular: Keep exercises to hiking, light runs, or more flow-based yoga that works up a sweat.
- Ovulation: Your testosterone and estrogen are peaking, maximizing your potential. Try exercises such as high-intensity interval workouts or a spin class.
- Luteal: During this time, progesterone is on the rise as testosterone and estrogen deplete. Opt for strength training, Pilates, and more intense versions of yoga.
It’s always important to listen to your body and do what feels good. If you feel you can push yourself a little harder, or need to back off more during certain stages, this is OK. Listen to your body!
Menstrual cycle and nutritional advice
|Menstrual||During this phase, your estrogen is on the rise. Drink soothing tea, like chamomile, to combat cramps. Avoid or limit fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods.|
|Follicular||Try to incorporate foods that will metabolize estrogen. Focus on sprouted and fermented foods like broccoli sprouts, kimchi, and sauerkraut.|
|Ovulatory||With your estrogen at an all-time high, you should eat foods that support your liver. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods like whole fruits, vegetables, and almonds. They pack incredible health benefits, including anti-aging properties and protection from environmental toxins, which are known to have an impact on your hormones.|
|Luteal||Estrogen and progesterone both surge and then wane during this period. Eat foods that will produce serotonin, like leafy greens, quinoa, and buckwheat. You’ll also want to focus on magnesium-rich foods that fight fatigue and low libido, like dark chocolate, spinach, and pumpkin seeds.|
Luteal phase don’ts
- carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners
- red meat
- added salt
Sexuality and hormonal influence during your menstrual cycle
|Menstrual||Cramping? Over 3,500 women who took our survey said orgasms relieve their cramps. But the choice is yours during this restful week. Listen to your body, eat according to cycle-syncing nutrition, and gear up for the month ahead.|
|Follicular||Your sex drive is naturally low, which means you’ll want to increase massaging and touching, rather than penetration. Creative foreplay is key.|
|Ovulatory||During this phase, your estrogen and testosterone are peaking, which makes you most interested in sex (and prime for baby making). Spontaneity can spice things up during this week and keep things exciting and frisky.|
|Luteal||In the bedroom, you’ll need a bit more stimulation to climax. So try out sex toys and fun, brand-new positions.|
Seed cycling to regulate your hormonal balance during the menstrual cycle
Seed cycling is a naturopathic remedy that is claimed to balance hormones by regulating the hormone estrogen in the first half of your menstrual cycle and the hormone progesterone in the second half. The practice is claimed to balance certain hormones, boost fertility, and ease symptoms of menopause, among other benefits.
Its purported health benefits include helping regulate periods, reducing acne, treating poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and infertility, and easing symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and mood swings.
Some online sources also assert that it can improve thyroid hormone levels, hair health, weight loss, water retention, and cellulite.
Proponents claim that positive hormonal changes will be noticed after just a few months of cycling.
How to do the seed cycling?
Seed cycling involves eating flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds at different times of your menstrual cycle. During the follicular phase, proponents of seed cycling claim that the phytoestrogens in flax seeds can help increase or decrease estrogen levels as needed.
Phytoestrogens are compounds in plants that can mimic the action of estrogen.
Additionally, zinc from pumpkin seeds is claimed to promote progesterone production in preparation for the next phase of the cycle.
During the luteal phase, lignans — a type of polyphenol — in sesame are supposed to inhibit estrogen levels from increasing too much. Meanwhile, the vitamin E in sunflower seeds is thought to help boost progesterone levels.
For menopausal and postmenopausal women without a regular menstrual cycle, it’s often recommended to use the phases of the moon as a guide to cycle dates, with day one of their cycle falling on the new moon.
Follicular (day 1-14): eating flax seeds (phytoestrogens), eating pumpkin seeds (zinc)
+ 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
+ 1 tablespoon ground pumpkin seeds
+ high-quality fish oil (optional, but recommended)
Luteal (day 15-28): eating sesame seeds (lignans), eating sunflower seeds (vitamin E)
+ 1 tablespoon ground sesame seeds
+ 1 tablespoon ground sunflower seeds
+ evening primrose oil (optional, but recommended)