by JANE DANIEL
Most of our lives as women, we curse “that time of the month.” Cramps, bloating, headaches, irritability, and sugar cravings are common complaints. But what if we flipped our “curse” into our superpower?! First off, I want to differentiate between the menstrual cycle and your period. The menstrual cycle is the entire length of time starting the first day of your period to the day BEFORE your next period. A normal menstrual cycle length is in between 26-33 days. Your period is the amount of days you actually bleed.
The menstrual cycle happens to be a great barometer for a menstruating woman’s health. It can tell us how we are handling stress, any mineral deficiencies we may have, and how much our body is loving our current diet and lifestyle. Reproduction falls far behind survival and if something is out of balance, we can get an idea by paying attention to our cycle.
Women who aren’t menstruating due to surgical reasons or menopause, please read on. You have a womb or the energy of a womb space. You can still heed the following.
Let’s dive in! We have three main hormones during the process of 26-33 days; they take the main stage at different times of the cycle. Here is a quick review of the benefits of these stars:
Responsible for hourglass shape
Full lips, plump skin
Supports a healthy metabolism
Produces a sense of calm, love and connection
The key is if one of the main characters aren’t in perfect harmony with the others, chaos can ensue.
Week 1, Your Bleed Week
All hormones are low. You may want to sleep a little longer; try to make time for this or schedule a nap in the middle of the day. Estrogen starts to take the stage at the end of the week and continues to rise during the follicular phase (the weeks leading up to ovulation). This is a fantastic time to go within. Spend some quiet time with yourself. Set goals and identify problems you want to solve.
Week 2, Estrogen and Testosterone Get Rowdy
In week 2, estrogen continues to climb and testosterone joins the fun. If you look at the benefits of both, you will notice lips get plumper, mood is high, and libido is starting to rev up. At a primal level, we are mammals and this is how we procreate! Said another way if you don’t want to have a baby, wear a condom or get creative. If pregnancy is the goal, it is time to open the gates for sperm to enter.
Fun tip: Single ladies, this is the time to plan a night out on the town or doing a hobby you really love where your preferred type of partner may be involved. You will be irresistible! Others will notice the glow (subconsciously or not) and will be highly intrigued.
For those who are taken, you can still have fun. Plan a fun date night with your love, girls’ night on the town with dancing, or do some networking for your career.
Week 3, Ovulation and Progesterone
Ovulation occurs; we have a mere 4 hours where the sperm can implant the egg. However, sperm can live for days prior to the big event. So again, practice caution if you aren’t looking for a bouncing bundle of joy or have boatloads of sex the days leading up to it!
After ovulation, the luteal phase begins. Progesterone tells her sister Estrogen to step aside and starts building the endometrial lining in hopes of holding on to a possible baby (if this doesn’t happen, your period comes). You will see a slight increase in basal body temperature once ovulation has taken place. To get a better idea of your cycle, you can measure your temperature first thing every morning. This is a great time to knock off things on your To-Do list, write, schedule a time to talk, and even ask for a raise at work!
Week 4, Irritated with Everything and Everyone while Eating Chocolate?
Towards the end of this week, there will be a potent drop in Estrogen and Progesterone. You may notice increased cravings. The beauty of this week is to figure out things that bother you the most. What are some things you may consider changing? “Negativity bias” is a highlighter for things you want to change. Remember, next week you bleed on your problems while coming up with solutions!
This is an overview of the hormonal symphony your body goes through in a month’s time. If you are no longer menstruating, you can follow the lunar cycle! The New Moon would be Week 1, Waxing Moon Week 2, Full Moon Week 3, and Waning Moon Week 4. This website will show you dates: https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/. Next month we will discuss ways to optimize eating and exercise based on your menstrual cycle!
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