Cycle Issues

Have you ever noticed that you feel like a different person at different stages of your menstrual cycle? Well, you're not alone, and it's not just in your head - there's a physiological basis to it! In recent times, there's been a growing awareness of the importance of considering women's hormones when it comes to health, fitness, and self-care. More and more women are seeking ways to support their ever-changing hormones effectively.

A study conducted on users of the Flo menstrual cycle tracking app revealed that 45.2% of women reported missing work days due to their menstrual cycle, and a staggering 75% were looking for insights and help to improve their quality of life. This is where "cycle syncing" comes into play - a method that empowers women to align their nutrition, exercise, self-care, and lifestyle with the different phases of their menstrual cycle, bringing more ease to their day-to-day life.

Cycle syncing involves considering the natural rhythm of women's hormone profiles, which fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. Understanding these hormonal changes can help women better understand their bodies, moods, energy levels, and even nutritional cravings. By adjusting their routines according to their cycle, women can live more in harmony with their physiology.

The menstrual cycle consists of four phases, each with its unique characteristics and hormonal fluctuations:

  1. Menstruation Phase: Self-Care And Rest. During menstruation, which marks the start of the menstrual cycle and lasts for about two to seven days, estrogen levels are at their lowest. This can lead to fatigue, low energy levels, and mood changes. To counter these effects, self-care is essential. Engaging in outdoor activities, exercise, good nutrition, and mood-boosting practices like meditation can help alleviate symptoms and provide support during this phase.

  2. Follicular Phase: Energy And Creativity. The follicular phase overlaps with menstruation and continues until ovulation, usually around day 13 or 14 in a 28-day cycle. Rising estrogen levels in this phase bring increased energy, stabilized mood, and enhanced creativity. It's a great time for planning and creative pursuits. Including foods that help metabolize estrogen, such as cooked cruciferous vegetables, healthy fats, and leafy greens, can support hormone balance during this phase.

  3. Ovulation Phase: Social and Extroverted. Ovulation occurs around day 14 or 15 in a 28-day cycle when estrogen and testosterone levels peak, leading to increased energy, positive moods, and a sense of vitality. During this phase, creative thinking is enhanced, making it an excellent time for brainstorming and engaging in creative activities. Women may feel less need for extensive self-care during this phase.

  4. Luteal Phase: Reflection and Self-Care. The luteal phase follows ovulation (around day 15/16) and continues until the start of the next period. In this phase, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone levels rise before declining right before menstruation. Some women may experience symptoms of PMS and PMDD due to hormonal imbalances. Self-care and stress reduction practices are crucial during this phase to counteract potential hormonal fluctuations and mood changes.

Starting with cycle syncing involves tracking your menstrual cycle to build self-awareness and understanding of each phase's characteristics. For women with irregular cycles, comprehensive hormone testing, such as the DUTCH Cycle Mapping test, can help personalize the cycle-syncing approach and identify underlying issues.

Functional medicine lab tests that can be helpful for women practicing cycle syncing include female hormone testing to understand baseline hormone levels and adrenal/cortisol testing to evaluate stress response. Neurotransmitter testing can also be beneficial for women dealing with PMDD and mood changes.

In summary, cycle syncing is a powerful tool for women to reconnect with their bodies and adapt their lifestyle to honor their physiology. By aligning with their natural hormonal changes, women can experience improved well-being and balance throughout their menstrual cycle. It may take a few months to fully embrace cycle syncing, but the rewards are well worth the effort.