There’s power in appreciating the female body—everything she does. Through her, we can evolve, connect, work, play, dream, and bring life into this world. Our bodies are nothing short of magical. But it’s easy to take our physical being for granted. In turn, we get caught up in unhealthy behaviors: too much (or too little) exercise, inadequate rest, chronic stress, and under-nourishment. Our bodies deserve the same care we give to others—especially as women. But in order to take care of ourselves, we need to understand our fifth vital sign. The menstrual cycle. And once we understand it, we need to master it. As humans, we’ve evolved to master the earth’s seasons—why not learn how to use your body’s natural cycles in a similar way? Like the seasons, you can treat your period as a guide for your life. In today’s article, you’ll learn how to master your menstrual cycle.
4 distinct Phases of the menstrual cycle
As women, our bodies work similarly to the seasons. At certain times of the month, our energy rises and falls. We may feel more abundant (spring and summer). Other weeks, we may crave solitude (fall and winter). Just like the seasons, a woman’s menstrual cycle has four distinct phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal.
• menstrual: the start of your period
• follicular: 7-10 days leading up to ovulation
• ovulatory: 3-5 days of ovulation
• luteal: 10-14 days before your period
Keep in mind that every woman’s cycle is different, and it is normal for lengths to vary. Your cycle may be longer or shorter than the phases listed above.
why the menstrual cycle is like the seasons
To begin, consider where you’re at in your cycle. Did your period just end? Have you noticed a change in your cervical fluid? If your cycle is irregular, painful, or causes intense sugar cravings, reach out to me! Once you understand which phase you’re in, use the following guide to create cyclical structure. To master your menstrual cycle, consider each phase a different season.
You may feel more introverted while you’re on your period—take advantage of this. Rest, recharge, and reconnect with yourself. Set intentions for the month ahead. Nourish your body with healthy fats and iron-rich foods. Read. Move your body in a gentle way. Because your progesterone and estrogen levels are at their lowest, and you might feel menstrual fatigue, experience light pain, or other mild PMS symptoms.
As your period ends, you may begin feeling more energetic, inspired, and focused. Now is the time to socialize with friends, start a new project, and be intimate with your partner. Focus on fermented foods and raw carrots to metabolize estrogen. As a woman moves into the follicular phase, she’s ready to slowly get back into the world, take on new projects, start planning, and organize. This is an optimal time to dedicate focused time to projects, reading and researching, learning, and performing physical tasks.
Feeling a surge in libido? This is completely normal! This is the best time to conceive (or take extra precaution in the bedroom). Collaborate, network, and try a new workout class. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods (cooked greens, berries, bone broth, etc.) to support your liver. At your most fertile time, you’ll likely notice that your cervical mucus is slippery and watery. During the summer phase, a woman’s energy is more expressive and outward. She may feel more social, and this is a great time to focus on community building, nurturing relationships, hosting, cooking, or being of service to others. Some research suggests that ovulation is the best time to ask for what you want—whether that be from your partner, or asking for a raise at work.
As with fall’s harvest, now is the time to nourish your body with grounding foods (starchy carbs, bananas, grains, etc.). See here for foods to eat during this phase! The luteal phase will begin energetically, then wane. Begin this phase with an emphasis on strength training, then restorative exercise towards the end. As the fourth week in your cycle, you may notice yourself feeling more inward at this time. You may become agitated by excessive demands, thus craving more alone time. As an entrepreneur, I (try to) schedule my life according to my cycle. I purposefully block time for writing leading up to my cycle, instead of back-to-back client calls. I encourage the women I coach and mentor to do the same. If we disown our own needs, PMS can intensify. Ultimately, acknowledging this inward phase is a courageous act of self-love. This is a wonderful time to nurture your creative insights, write poetry, draw, or come up with strategic ideas for your business.
Can you get pregnant during the luteal phase? Yes, but it’s not as likely. The chances of pregnancy are lowest during your period and in the days before and after your period. However, you can still become pregnant if you ovulated early or late in your cycle. Sperm can survive in the body for several days. Monitoring your cervical fluid is really helpful. When you’re not fertile, your cervical mucus will be thick or pasty.
heal your relationship with your body
Consider this: if we’ve come to associate a natural, beautiful and sacred aspect of our own being—our period—as frustrating, dirty, or something to hide, then what are we telling ourselves about our bodies? What are we telling ourselves about our worthiness as women? When we mend our relationship with our cycle, we mend our relationship with ourselves. We pave a healthier inner voice for our daughters and our sons about what it means to be a woman who bleeds.
When you understand your shifts in mood, wants, and needs, you are inevitably in more control of your life. Rather than feeling as though you’re being thrashed around by an emotional rollercoaster (hello, PMS), your self-awareness navigates you through stormy water. An empowered woman’s journey involves learning to love her cycle rather—rather than deny its power.
Master your menstrual cycle with The best Period books
Below are my top four books for menstrual cycle healing, creativity, and soul nourishment. These are all great reads for the inner-autumn, pre-menstrual time period.
This is all about discovering that your power lies in the rhythm of your menstrual cycle. Through this book, you’ll connect with your body on a deeper level. In turn, finding healing, balance, and wholeness.
If you’re new to understanding your period and how the rest of your lifestyle impacts your cycle, read this.
Transform your periods using all-natural solutions like diet, vitamins, and hormone-balancing nutrition. This is an all-encompassing period repair manual.
This is a phenomenal resource for women of all menstruating ages. As a double-certified health coach who specializes in female hormonal health, I can honestly say this book is packed with well-researched and accurate information. By reading this, you’ll be surprised by how much we were never taught about the female body (and you’ll now be empowered to take care of it).
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Wellness with Edie!
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.