How to Tap Into Your Monthly Cycle

Have you ever done a workout one day and loved it? You felt great during and after the workout – it was challenging, but also not too difficult. You go back a week later only to find that you struggled through the same class or simply didn’t enjoy it at all? Or have you ever felt highly energised, but found yourself feeling more introverted and less energetic a few days later?

The current health model leads women to believe that they should feel the exact same day after day, which can lead us to believe that we should have the same energy level, be able to sustain consistent productivity, and be good (or improving, but never regressing) at the same activities.

But, the truth is, women are cyclical! Our monthly cycle comes with changes in emotions, energy levels, sociability, physical endurance, and even aptitudes for certain tasks. Trying to live our lives as if we’re the same each and every day prevents us from taking advantage of times when we excel at certain tasks at best, and at worst, can leave us feeling drained and burnt out.

Naturally cycling women (those of us without the influence of the synthetic hormones in hormonal birth control) have cycles that mirror the seasons. Just as a day in each season looks a little different, so does a day in each phase of your cycle.

The Phases of Your Cycle
There are 5 major actors in your monthly hormone cycle: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH), oestrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. The latter three determine your mood and energy levels throughout the month. This is because they interact with other hormones and neurotransmitters. In fact, a woman’s brain chemistry changes by up to 25% every month.

As a brief overview, your cycle begins on the first day of your period. During this time, your brain scans your body and finds your sex hormone levels to be low. This causes it to release FSH, which tells your ovaries to start maturing an egg, and to start producing oestrogen. When oestrogen levels reach a certain threshold, your brain releases LH, which tells your ovaries to ovulate.

At ovulation, an egg is released from the surface of the ovary, leaving behind a little sack called the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum causes your ovary to stop producing oestrogen and to start producing progesterone. You will keep producing progesterone until the corpus luteum dies between ten and fourteen days later. When this happens, your ovary stops producing progesterone, and your period begins, restarting the cycle.

Every woman’s monthly cycle plays out differently according to her unique physiology and hormone levels. What follows is a broad overview of what a woman with a reasonably healthy hormonal balance will experience at each stage of her cycle.

This article was originally posted on Taylor Magazine – to read the rest of the post to learn about each “season”, head here.