I know what you’re thinking… the menstrual cycle? My period? That thing that arrives once a month and is super annoying?
I get it. I’ve been there. Once plagued with the inconveniences of pain, blood and fatigue, I saw my period as a burden, rather than a blessing.
After a few years spent in the darker emotions of life and generally rejecting my cyclic feminine nature, I was struck with a deep interest for the menstrual cycle and the taboo held around it.
Little did I know that this would become the map that would help me to transform my emotions, embrace my menstrual cycle and address the pain associated with my period.
It’s fair to say that it transformed my life.
I now hold a deep belief that knowing how your menstrual cycle works is every woman’s birth right.
Embracing your menstrual cycle is the starting point to alleviating period pain, reducing PMS, understanding your emotions and accepting your feminine, cyclic nature.
Here are five ways to embrace your menstrual cycle
1. Menstrual tracking
Tracking your menstrual cycle can show you how long your cycle is, when to expect your next period and even when you ovulate (if you use the Fertility Awareness Method).
You can track your cycle with an app (such as Kindara) or a paper tracker. I personally prefer the paper tracker as it gives me a clear sense of the overall month, and it sits right next to my bed, ready for me to write in every morning.
Tracking also highlights to me what comes up every month, including things such as:
- food cravings
- breast tenderness
- Mood changes
- Creative bursts
- PMS symptoms
By having these clearly written down, I also gain insight into what my hormones are doing.
For example, if I’m experiencing consistent breast tenderness month after month, I know that my estrogen is in excess. I will therefore address this with herbs and diet/lifestyle changes.
Another example is mood changes: if my mood is becoming REALLY erratic before my period, I will make the commitment to spend more time balancing my blood sugar (by eating full, consistent meals), managing my stress and addressing nutrient deficiencies.
Tracking your cycle is the number one element in getting to know your menstrual cycle.
2. Understand the Four Phases
There are four distinct phases within the menstrual cycle which are governed by four distinct hormonal patterns. These phases affect everything from your libido to energy levels, sleep, mood & food cravings.
These four phases are named the…
- Follicular Phase
- Ovulatory Phase
- Luteal Phase
- Menstrual Phase
They are the perfect biological cues for what’s going on internally (because, as women, we don’t just experience the same mood and energy levels, day in and day out. We fluctuate immensely!)
For example, during the Ovulatory phase, estrogen and testosterone levels rise, which lends itself to a heightened libido and increased desire to socialise.
On the contrary, during the menstrual phase hormones take a dip, and many women feel inward, highly intuitive and more sensitive to pain.
By understanding the four phases, you can adjust your life accordingly, (delete: thereby scheduling social activities, business decisions, exercise regimes & rest accordingly. )
3. Live in FLOW
Now that you understand that there are four distinct phases within your cycle, which lead to four different hormonal (and mood) patterns, you can adjust your life in order to live in FLOW.
Adjusting your life reduces stress, increases productivity (if that’s what you’re after) and makes sure you’re doing things like choosing the right exercise to nourish your body, rather than stress it.
The easiest way to live in FLOW is to dedicate…
- The first half of your cycle (follicular and Ovulatory phase) to socialising, brainstorming and executing business ideas
- The second half of your cycle (Luteal & menstrual phase) to inward reflection, rest & receiving intuitive downloads
Instead of pushing yourself to keep going during your Luteal and menstrual phase, which can lead to burnout and painful periods, you can schedule in rest and relaxation. This helps to nourish your body and balance your hormones.
On the contrary, during your follicular and Ovulatory phases, you can schedule in date nights and business executions. This helps to increase your mood & satisfaction with life.
I adjust my life according to my cycle by planning my month ahead, literally in my schedule, with the things that best support each phase.
A simple guide to living in FLOW:
Follicular Phase: network in business, cardio workouts, socialise
Ovulatory Phase: execute in business, high intensity workouts, celebrate with your lover or community
Luteal Phase: tie up loose ends in business, strength workouts, inward time
Menstrual Phase: rest in business & receive intuitive downloads for the next month ahead, yin yoga, rest & relaxation time (don’t schedule social activities here)
You can embrace your menstrual cycle and reduce cramping, PMS & erratic mood changes by adding in specific herbs.
Common Womens Herbs include vitex, ashwaganda, motherwort & ginger.
Though, the most simple, effective and safe way to incorporate herbs, is with Herbal Infusions.
A herbal infusion is like a strong tea, but it uses a larger amount of herb and is steeped for much longer (usually overnight). These are like home-made supplements in the way that they deliver large amounts of nutrients in one dose.
My favourite herbal infusion is a Raspberry Leaf Infusion which supports….
- a regular cycle
- reduces cramping
- reduces excessive bleeding
- is high in magnesium and calcium (two nutrients crucial for an easy flow)
Other herbal infusion ideas include Nettle Leaf, Oatstraw & Red Clover.
In saying this, if you are struggling with a particular issue that you can’t seem to get on top of with general lifestyle, diet & herbal support, consider reaching out to a naturopath or herbalist for a more in-depth plan.
Often overlooked, the way we relate to our menstrual cycle psychologically and culturally, has been proven to impact how we actually experience them (affecting how much pain and general discomfort we experience).
You can shift your viewpoint in order to embrace your menstrual cycle by incorporating ritual.
A simple ritual could be journaling 10 things you want to release when you have your period, and burning it, slowing the fire to transmute your words. You can also create a monthly ritual where you gift yourself with oils, chocolate and home-cooked meals that you prepared earlier in the month, during your period.
Incorporating rituals and welcoming your period every month, goes a long way in reconnecting and healing your menstrual cycle.
Often, it’s these things that create the subtle shifts for healthier choices to be made throughout the following month.
Embracing your menstrual cycle gives you the road map to uncovering menstrual health issues and helps you to live more in flow.
Because for too long women have been left in the dark, not knowing what their menstrual cycle really is.
For too long have we felt crazy, misunderstood and burdened for going through something that is completely natural and happens to every fertile woman, every month.
Now is the time to Reclaim Your Cycle.
Reclaim Your Cycle | Casey McIntosh