There is a stigma around periods that overall, they suck - cramps hurt, women get very emotional, and our mood can change like a flick of a light switch! However, PMS doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing if you work with your period rather than against it. Yes, cramps still suck, and it can be difficult controlling your up and down emotions, but once you are able to distinctly recognise your personal menstrual cycle, you can use it to your advantage!
Many women aren’t aware that their menstrual cycle doesn’t just consist of that time approximately every month where they bleed out of their vagina for a few days. A woman’s 28 day menstrual cycle actually consists of four phases that can affect things like your energy levels, ability to concentrate and personal productivity. These phases are:
Women act and feel different in each phase, so it is important to understand what is best for your body and mind every step of the way. By understanding these four phases, you will learn why you feel the way you do, when you do and that it’s ok!
The menstruation phase begins on the first day of your period and ends on the last day of your period. For many women, this is between 3 – 7 days long. In this phase, your energy, focus and productivity levels are at their lowest. All levels of hormones are also low, however, there is a slight rise in estrogen and a slight drop in progesterone.
How to work in the menstruation phase
The next phase of your cycle is the follicular phase which commences as your bleeding stops. During this time, your uterus is preparing for a potential pregnancy. The follicular phase usually lasts around 16 days however can last anywhere between 11 to 27 days. When in this phase of your menstrual cycle, there is a sharp rise in progesterone and estrogen. Testosterone is at a steady level however may rise towards the end of the phase. In the follicular phase, you can expect heightened energy thanks to your rising estrogen levels. This means that it is a good time to learn as productivity and focus may be higher.
How to work in the follicular phase
It is during this phase (the middle of your cycle) that an egg is released which usually lasts for around 24 hours. However, high levels of estrogen and testosterone can make this a noticeable part of your cycle for 3 – 4 days. It is normal to feel a little different for a few days either side of ovulation day. During this phase, thanks to a peak in testosterone, you will most likely feel an outward focused energy. Additionally, a peak of estrogen can make you feel energetic and proactive.
How to work in the ovulation phase
This phase occurs when your egg isn’t fertilized, meaning that the uterus is preparing to shed its lining (have a period). During this phase, estrogen and progesterone rise (particularly progesterone which is at its peak at this time), then they both plumet at the end of the phase. Progesterone hormones usually have a calming effect on your body meaning that you can expect to be a little slower in this phase. Your productivity levels are likely to be low as it is a natural time for your body to wind-down. You may be bingeing a lot of comfort food, isolating yourself and getting emotional. You guessed it, the luteal phase is associated with PMS, particularly apparent towards the end of the phase. This phase can last anywhere between 12 – 14 days.
How to work in the luteal phase
If you are a woman who doesn’t know much about her cycle, when your next period begins, challenge yourself to recognise these four phases. Avoid turning a blind eye and tap into each phase to understand how to best manage your body and mind. “Dr. Allison Devine is an OB-GYN at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic and faculty at Texas A&M Medical School says that [as women], we should be looking at how hormonal changes can support us.”
“By embracing the hormonal changes in our cycle rather than trying to suppress them, we can take advantage of what they offer us.”
Some hormonal terms discussed in this blog you may not know…
Estrogen: any of a group of hormones which promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body.
Progesterone: a sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryogenesis of humans and other species.
Testosterone: a hormone that is considered a male sex hormone however women produce small amounts of testosterone in their ovaries and adrenal glands. Together with estrogen, this hormone plays an important role in the growth and maintenance of female reproductive tissue and bone mass, additionally they influence behaviour.
Medical Disclaimer: Articles are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. Ask a medical professional if you have any health-related questions or concerns.
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Walters, M. (2020). How to work with your period and not against it.https://www.healthline.com/health/make-your-period-work-for-you#Work-with-your-period,-not-against-it
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