Don’t just go with the flow.
Menstrual cycle awareness holds the key to unlocking our fullest potential health, empowerment and self-awareness. Imagine if you possessed a map that explained how our bodies change across the month. And if on top of that, it told you why this was happening. With this map, you could have a better understanding of why your moods, cravings, pain and energy wax and wane over the cycle, and you can stop feeling at the mercy of your period. Let’s not waste any more time!
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What Is Menstrual Cycle Awareness?
Having menstrual cycle awareness is to understand that as a woman, you are a cyclical being. It’s to live in harmony with this cycle (your menstruation) and to embrace everything it brings into your life. It’s the practice of paying attention to the cyclical changes in your mood and overall well-being.
Here’s the thing, our hormones impact every part of our body (including our brains!). The hormones oestrogen and progesterone are integral to the stages of the menstrual cycle, and they also impact how we feel. So, it’s no wonder that we don’t feel the same from day-to-day. Understanding the naturally occurring ebbs and flows of emotions, physical states and energy levels throughout this monthly cycle can help create a deeper understanding of “why” we feel the way we do.
How To Practice Menstrual Cycle Awareness
The first thing to be aware of it that our cycles lead us; we don’t guide our cycles. What we need is to develop the art of listening to our body. No two cycles are the same, and our shifts may depend on internal and external factors (pressures at work, family, relationships etc.). However, if we give our cycle full awareness, patterns begin to emerge. The best way to understand your menstrual patterns is to track your symptoms with an app like Clue and Flo, or jot them down in a planner or journal. Every woman is unique and different, so before you read on, the golden rule is to trust your body. Menstrual cycle awareness is all about listening to your body’s needs and responding without guilt, shame, comparison or judgement.
Ahead, learn what may occur during the different parts of your cycle:
The Four Phases Of Your Menstrual Cycle
Women have four naturally occurring phases throughout one menstrual cycle. This will differ if you’re pregnant, on a hormonal contraceptive or in perimenopause, but it’s still possible to chart your monthly patterns to notice your unique changes. I like to refer to these cycles as seasons because they have some similar qualities.
Menstrual Phase – Your Inner Winter
Winter is when you’re actually bleeding. This is a time to rest. During this time, hormone levels are low. That is why a lot of women experience fatigue and exhaustion, and why our emotions can dip. There’s nothing wrong with you; your body is just working hard during this time. You’re burning more calories because your body is working on shedding and rebuilding your uterine lining. That’s why it’s so important to slow down in your productivity and give yourself permission to rest. Practise self-care by doing nourishing things and eating healthy foods.
Follicular Phase – Your Inner Spring
After winter comes spring. The spring phase is held within the follicular phase and happens as soon as menstruation is completed. Now, the “feel good” hormone, oestrogen, is on the rise. An increase in mood and energy usually characterises it. This oestrogen increase leads to a boost in serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine which can leave you feeling more energetic and creative. This might be a good time to make plans, start socialising more and try new things. This is also a great time to get started on business, work and creative projects.
Ovulatory Phase – Your Inner Summer
Summer is represented by ovulation, it’s when you are most fertile. Think of it as your time to shine! This happens approximately two weeks before your next menstruation. During ovulation, the hormones of oestrogen and progesterone are both high. This could mean you’re thriving and glowing with energy! It’s an opportunity to do extra work or fun things because your body may need less sleep. This is also a great time to schedule in a date night because this phase can also affect your desire in the bedroom. You may find yourself feeling more adventurous, which makes it a great time to experiment with new things.
Luteal Phase – Your Inner Autumn
Just like the feeling of autumn in nature when the leaves are starting to fall, this is the time when your hormones start to drop. You may start to lose your spunky energy and feel the need to turn inwards. This is because oestrogen drops, and progesterone is high. This phase of the cycle can be characterised by PMS, especially if there are underlying causes creating more stress and inflammation in the body. This is a time to start slowing down, saying no to big things and finish up projects. It’s also an opportunity to reflect and review life and your relationships with others, and think about the things you may want to change or let go of. A great way to do so is to practice a womb clearing meditation. You may also feel an increase in appetite (which you’ll need for the week to come) and then dips as you get closer to menstruation. During the end of this phase, it is time to start planning the next week of rest.
To live in accordance with your menstrual cycle is the key to liberation for a woman to live a life of self-acceptance and love. It’s the ultimate empowerment for women! Men listen up as well, this is knowledge that will help you too (just imagine how great it would feel to truly understand your partner)! Ultimately, a deeper understanding of this monthly cycle will enhance your relationship with yourself and the people around you.