As part of the January membership, I host a monthly exclusive Facebook LIVE chat. This months topic, How To Use Your Hormones To Your Advantage was especially loved by my beautiful members. I want to share with you some of the goodness we tucked in to when it comes to hormone cycles and menstrual cycle. Want to join us next time? You can click here to learn more.
As women, we have many superpowers. Every year on International Women’s Day, women around the world rallied together to show up and speak out to be seen, heard and respected. And whilst I’m all for women having an equal voice to men, it left me pondering – do we want to be equal in all areas (stay with me here). As women, we deserve a voice of course, but I worry that the lines get blurred and we begin to behave just like men in the process. Women innately operate from a very different place to men because we are inevitably not the same.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
I think one of the greatest barriers I observe, is pressure that comes with being a women in a masculine world. We can be persuaded to act in a predominantly masculine manner, because men may ‘appear’ to dominate and we try to match their stride. And it’s when we begin to operate out of this place, we lose sight of what is innately us. Men have a role just as women do. Do we actually want to be men? No. But if we actually tapped in to our own essence, and felt the equally solid voice, I believe we would be in a different place. I believe women need to take their power through their femininity and the gentle persuasion we’ve perfected over thousands of years.
Sure there are men who are total chauvinists, but there are women who are downright bitches.
Women can play like men and this is where I think there is an issue, because it’s not being true to ourselves. We are nurturers by nature. AND where the real gems lie is if we worked out how to use our hormones to our advantage, I wonder if we’d have every xy chromosome on the planet buckling in and listening up. It’s just a thought…
Which brings me to this;
understanding our hormones may be a our very own unique superpower
The first place to start with this, is to understand the cycles according to the seasons. You might be surprised to learn that men have cycles too – driven by testosterone, they cycle each and every day. The bonus for them is that these cycles tend to weave in with with a typical work day. Women however, we cycle too, not only through the day but most importantly, we cycle throughout a month (or thereabouts). That’s a lot of difference right there.
This is very useful but the circadian rhythm (day and night which we are all cycling around) as well as our menstrual rhythm are all important to our health and our HPA axis (which we’ve spoken it about previously here).
Your menstrual cycle according to the seasons (and to use to your advantage) looks like this;
Image from Adore Your Cycle.
The Menstrual Phase Facts
+ This phase may last 3 days or it may last 7 (any longer and we need to talk)
+ In this phase our hormones are at their lowest as the period starts
+ Oestrogen begins to rise as this phase goes by
+ Appetite may be low at this time (not like the week prior)
+ Including warm and nourishing foods at this time is useful, as well as some dark chocolate and red wine for blood building (so TCM but I love it)
+ During this phase it is important to go gently with movement and lifestyle
+ Spiritually you may notice you are more centred and connected and things feel ‘deeper’ even your emotions may be like this too.
+ It’s the time to stop and just be, trying not to push on just because the world tells you to.
+ Spend more time on your own, be less social and even say no to things
+ Rest when needed, nap on tap.
The pre-ovulation stage facts
+ Oestrogen is building, progesterone is low but begins to rise and testosterone is rising in preparation for ovulation.
+ During this time it is best to consume whole foods, especially plant foods to nourish the body after the hibernation of the winter phase
+ Your energy is increasing and you feel light and bright
+ This is the time to get social, take holidays and attend or arrange important events. This fresh energy makes you more adventurous too.
It’s your ultimate time to network – You’ll also tap into some masculine energy at this time.
+ It’s the time in your work to act and get new projects started. You are able to tap into some masculine energy in this week of your cycle.
+ Clear away the clutter, fix the house and create space for the freshness arriving. Setting yourself up now makes the difference for the rest of the cycle.
The ovulation stage facts
+ The hormones are high as oestrogen and testosterone peak before the soar of progesterone.
+ Your digestion generally feels amazing at this point. You may also crazy salty foods.
+ Exercise at this time of the cycle feels awesome, you may find your feel stronger and more resilient than any other time in your cycle.
+ You may find the need to really nurture the important relationships during this phase.
+ Your libido peaks and there is a heightened external sexual energy. Makes total sense, since innately you’re ovulating for the purpose of procreation!
+ This time of the cycle is also where you want to connect with your loved ones for some time together, pick up the phone to chat or support them in some way.
This pre-menstrual stage.
+ Oestrogen (and progesterone eventually) levels dive if there isn’t a fertilised egg.
+ Your appetite moves in – carbs and sugar seem to be on the top of the list.
+ It is a time in the cycle where it is more important to be aware of alcohol and sugar intake – both can cause chaos with your period due to the inflammation they bring.
+ Exercise is important during autumn as it can assist with any premenstrual symptoms – sex can be especially useful to increase uterine blood flow and manage any pain.
+ You may find yourself the need to go gently and begin to turn inwards.
+ Some find that the “inner mean girl” shows up in this window. Do your best to let go of any negative ego that’s rearing it’s head.
+ Great practices to incorporate in autumn are warm baths, movies and massages. Women are no longer fertile in the autumn stage, so I encourage you to partake in sexual intercourse to alleviate any PMS symptoms.
+ At home, clean up, create space and focus on letting go all in preparation for your winter phase.
So how do you play big if you’re waiting for your period? How do we use this to our advantage.
Some may say planning is a good idea although not always possible. If your periods are terrible then maybe but it is also important to read the signs and look at why you aren’t feeling great throughout the cycles – I’m of course always going to say let’s fix your period.
So what are the benfits of having a menstrual cycle? The natural physical shifts that happen may be your secret weapon for life!
Here are some examples –
Late follicular when oestrogen and testosterone are high, there is reasonably good data to show you are going to be most productive and the time to be your most masculine self. Highest libido (or at least should be) is also generally experienced here. This is also when you have the most energy. Its much easier to be productive in a masculine way.
Luteal phase – high progesterone and relatively high oestrogen levels. In this time you may find yourself more intuitively aware and focused and easier to connect with other women.
Built in times where giving ourselves permission for appropriate rest may also work to your advantage but equally what you do in your down time. Recovery is just as important as gains. It’s about the ebs and flows and when you skip phases you can’t continue at your best.
We need to allow for the ebs and flows. It’s unmaintainable if we don’t, we end up getting fatigued, cranky and burnt out and our productivity plummets. We have this built in to our own natural feminine rhythm – these natural ebbs and flows that when we don’t have this awareness, we fight against. This may be the secret to enhancing our ability to function as women and certainly something men do not have. Using it to our advantage is a total game changer.
If we are paying attention there are benefits that can come from being aware at where you are in the cycle.
Now this is all happy days until you need to show up on a day that your cycle wants you to rest on. But if you are aware that this might happen and you are well versed in your job or the task you’re needing to preform in, you can build around the experience to make sure you nail it. It starts with doing as little as possible on that day but focus on that one thing you need to be achieving.
This may mean things like;
+ getting more sleep the night before and if possible, sleeping in that day
+ adding in appropriate supplements ie magnesium, fish oil and something like echinacea which is known for its ability to sharpen the brain and improve cognitive thinking.
+ good self care, nice shower, good nutrition etc.
+ adequate child care for those who have children (easier said than done sometimes!)
If you can set everything up to prepare yourself as if it is a down day then this can soon become a little hack. After all, if it was up to nature technically you’re working on a rest day. This can be used for everything – when have high pressure tasks, to be able to plan around them and effectively build this into your cycle too.
The other trick is being tuned into your body and charting and watching what is going on and how you feel each month and each cycle. Who knows, you might feel best when you are actually bleeding or in the pre-period window.
I talk about this in more detail in my book, Beautiful You. I want all women to understand their bodies for the better and using your hormones as your superpower is absolute gold, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I’d also love to know if you’ve used your cycle to hack your life and how you do it. Your wisdom and sharing will no doubt help others – be sure to leave your comment in the comments section below.
You might also like to check out my gorgeous friend Claire Baker and her book, Adore Your Cycle for a much deeper insight into your cycle OR for my visual friends, check out my e-class, Debunking Ovulation. We’ve got something for everybody!