The menstrual cycle is a beautiful part of the female life, and when we understand the deeper intricacies of our monthly flow, we are able to look to it for guidance and insights about our health and where we might need to make adjustments to ‘flow’ better.
Our cycle is made up of four distinct phases which somewhat mirror the four seasons or the moon cycle. It’s pretty incredible that our bodies are so in sync with the larger cycles of nature and truly goes to show that we are intricately linked to everything around us.
Similar to our beautiful moon, our cycles repeat every 28 days, however differences in our bodies can cause slight variations to this. Large variations from this, however, likely indicate an imbalance and something you should look into further.
My interest in the menstrual cycle was initiated when I was around 19 years old and had experienced a prolonged time without my monthly bleed. I was experiencing secondary ammenhorrea and whilst I thought I was doing everything I could to get it back, I was still trying to control my body and not allowing it to do it’s thing. I had to go on a rather long journey into self love and trusting my bodies wisdom to learn how to surrender to the magical workings of my body. From a child, who, at the age of 12 was repulsed by the idea of a period and just wished that it would go away, to a teenager that ended up losing her monthly flow for 5 years. My desires were manifested, and yet in receiving what I had once upon a time wished for, I felt that I had lost a deep part of myself. Like many things in life, it’s not until we are without something that we truly learn the value it has on us.
As women I believe we are blessed, for our menstrual cycle is our internal guidance. It shows us where in our life we require more balance and where we need more flow. From my experience, allowing ‘flow’ and into your life is a really important factor for a healthy and carefree cycle. When we try to control our emotions, our physical bodies and the world around us, we create blockages which in turn can manifest as painful, intense or absent cycles.
So if we can learn to let go a little more, and step more into our feminine energy we will be so much more equipped to live a healthy and thriving life.
Phase 1 - The Menstrual Phase
The Menstrual phase is either the beginning or end of the cycle (depending on how you like to look at it) and usually lasts for around 4-6 days. This phase is depicted as our ‘winter’ and a time for rest and reflection. Naturally, you’ll feel lower in energy especially on the first day or two of your bleed. This is completely natural, so please don’t feel guilty or compare the energy of these days with two weeks ago. Instead, embrace this more yin, nurturing phase of the month by doing some kind things for yourself. Take a bath & add in some Avalon soak. The magnesium in this will help with any cramping you may be experiencing and top up your levels that are lost through bleeding. This bleed also represents the shedding of the old & the past month. You are letting go of everything that is no longer serving you. This is wonderful energy to relish in, and even though it might feel like an inconvenience, just remembering this will make it a little more sacred.
Your body is going through a huge transition, literally shedding the old inner lining so allow it to rest. Skip your normal high intensity workouts, as these will just be super stressful on the body (and can throw the hormones out) and instead a short walk barefoot out in nature or some yin yoga are beautiful ways to benefit your body without the stress.
During this time of introspection you’re less likely to be up for socialising, so honour this feeling and instead take time to yourself, to journal and reflect on the past month and maybe write down some intentions for what you’d like to bring in for this coming cycle.
To embody this phase of rest, go to bed early with some Sleep essential oils and a cup of sleep tea. Your body will thank you, and it will bounce back even quicker too!
Choose warming, grounding and easy to digest foods at this time. Root vegetables, slow cooked stews, soups and curries as well as warming spices like those you can find in chai. Try to stay away from too many stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and instead nourish your body with golden turmeric elixirs and a healthy chocolate brownie. If you’re experiencing any cramps or period pain, our Gut Elixir is amazing at nourishing and soothing & a magnesium Spray will do wonders for cramps!
What are your Hormones doing?
Your estrogen and progesterone production declines which causes the endometrium ( lining of the uterus) to breakdown. This is an incredible occurrence each month as the body is shedding and creating its own blood supply.
You’ll feel more tired, reflective, introspective and crave more time to yourself. Honour all of this, go with what your body is asking & try not to let the ego of ‘achieve, do, show up’ guilt trip you into over doing it.
Phase 2 - Follicular Phase
After winter, is the bright and beautiful Spring! If your body is balanced and you’re listening to it’s cues you should come out of your bleed feeling refreshed and renewed. Spring is a time for rebirth and new creation so you might be feeling more creative and inspired to birth something new into life, or get started on a new goal. To make the most of this phase, don’t allow yourself to get stuck down into the structure of routine and instead try something new. Maybe that’s meeting new people, reading a new book or changing up your morning routine. As the name of this phase might suggests, this is the time that your body is building up the ‘follicles’ and so as it is rebuilding, this is not a time to go full steam ahead, instead it is a time to stop & marvel at the beauty that exists around you and try to notice things through a new lense. Life stays interesting that way!
Try new things, experiment with your hair, clothes or outfit. If something isn’t working for you at work or in your relationship try and look at it from a different perspective to see if it shifts. Create vision boards, spend time dreaming or in imagination. Honour your inner child with play & bring back a sense of awe and curiosity into your life. Maybe you’ll commit to learning about a new topic of interest, or doing something you loved as a child (like eating dessert for dinner or running barefoot through grass) whatever it is, try to see life as one huge game of play!
After a period of rest, your body will likely be asking for lighter, fresher foods. But don’t take this as fact, instead listen in to what your body is asking for. When we look at Spring, it is abundant with fresh plants so add a lot of vibrancy into your meals. The more colour the body. However, as your body is still rebuilding, make sure you’re having a good balance of wholegrain, proteins and fats to keep you satiated.
What your Hormones are Doing?
Your pituitary gland releases follicle stimulating hormone which prepares your ovaries to produce an egg from one follicle once ovulation is triggered. Estrogen and testosterone also rise which heightens your senses, boosts your mood and ability to learn and concentrate.
Curiosity, play and pleasure are the key to this month. Tune into your sacral and solar plexus chakras and ask them what will light you up at this time. You should have a peak in creativity so harness this to find.
Phase 3 - The Ovulation Phase
During ovulation energy peaks, and so does your desire for social interaction. This is the time of highest fertility and so you’ll naturally be more inclined to want to go out and socialise with people. You’ll probably feel your best emotionally. You have more strength and energy at this time so take advantage of this and finally tick off that list of things you’ve been procrastinating. It’s also a great time to book in big events, social gatherings and celebrations. Modern society idealises this state of high energy & productivity however try not to get caught up in the hype of this phase. It is easy to compare ourselves at other times during the month to this phase and be frustrated that we’re not as energetic or productive. Embrace this time and enjoy the experience whilst it’s here but don’t expect the world from yourself. Additionally, if you overwork yourself during this time, forget to eat & sleep you’ll throw the rest of your cycle out too. The best thing you can do is to flow with how you feel during each day.
This is the most yang phase of your 28 days, and a time of doing and achieving. You are literally most ‘fertile’ at the moment, so you’ve got all the juicy goodness to turn your dreams into reality. Schedule in your most physically demanding tasks, events, appointments and commitments during this time. Make the most of your desire to be social and catch up with friends, have fun and celebrate however you see fit. It’s the perfect time to be loud & take real inspired action that you’ve been preparing for during the rest of the month.
To help balance out the heat of this summer phase, you will likely feel called to lighter & cooling foods. Eat lots of fibrous foods like fruit, veg & wholegrains and avoid anything heavy that will weigh you down.
What your Hormones are Doing?
Ovulation is triggered 24 - 36 hours after a surge of luteinizing hormone is released from the pituitary gland. This causes the ovary to release the mature egg which makes its way to the uterus in search of sperm. The ruptured follicle, which produced the egg, closes and forms a corpus luteum, which produces progesterone. Together with the peaking estrogen levels these two cause the lining of the uterus to thicken to prepare for possible fertilisation. The egg lasts for 24 hours in the uterus, however if it is not fertilised it will die.
When you’re in balance, you’ll feel confident in yourself, social, and optimistic. Your sex drive will also be at its highest. Shine brightly and you’ll lift up others around you, and don’t let anyone allow you to feel any less awesome than you are.
Phase 4 - Luteal Phase
As ovulation wanes, your body starts to unwind and prepare for menstruation and the shedding of the past month. The luteal phase resembles autumn, the unwinding of fertile hormones and changing of seasons. During the beginning of this phase oestrogen and progesterone peak, but if the egg released during ovulation isn’t fertilised, these levels rapidly decline in the body. When they level out with each other, this stage should feel like a natural shift in experience, however if oestrogen levels dominate that of progesterone you’ll likely experience PMS symptoms. If your body has experienced too much stress or you haven’t been allowing enough flow over the course of the past month, or longer, you’ll likely feel the repercussions here. Don’t resist this, however, your luteal phase is the best time for learning and reflecting on where you might have overdone it or not listened to your body. This is a great time to think about how you might be able to shift your thoughts, habits and patterns so that they support your balance.
During the first half of this phase you will still have a fair amount of energy at your expense so you can still get things done and follow through with the big leaps you made during your ovulatory phase, however you’ll want to make a conscious effort to slow down during the second half. You should orient your most physical activities towards the start of the day and keep it pretty chill in the evening.
This time is all about cleansing and detoxifying to prepare for this complete wind down. Now is the time to feel into and release any emotions that are coming up for you. If we allow these emotions to ‘flow’ this will help our cycle to rebalance. As the feel good hormones drop, all the unhelpful feelings are now likely to rise up to the surface so trust whatever is coming up, feel into it and allow it to move through. Chakra balancing meditations, breathwork, dance & yoga are great ways to detox these emotions.
To support the energetic release and unwinding of this phase, we look to detoxifying and cleansing foods. incorporating lots of fibre in fruits, veg & wholegrains will help to clear out excess hormones and cleanse all that is no longer serving your body. You’ll also want to focus on eating serotonin rich foods to keep your happy hormones stable. Packing in nutrients, and slow release energy will also help to keep your blood sugar stable and help to reduce the amount of PMS you experience.
What are your Hormones are Doing?
Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels decrease. If the egg is not fertilised the corpus luteum breaks down and stops the production of progesterone. Estrogen levels also decline. Together this causes the lining of the uterus to break down and the cycle begins again.