Updated: Sep 24, 2021
Get To Know Your Monthly Flow
The menstrual cycle is a beautiful concoction of hormones and fluctuations that, when nurtured, allows for us to spend time honoring our precious bodies.
Caring for our bodies during our cycle can sometimes feel overwhelming or confusing. Whether you are on birth control or not, we highly recommend downloading a period tracking app like Glow. This app allows you to input your information each day of your cycle, and it then uses the data to keep you up-to-date with what’s going on internally. It's a wonderful tool for staying in-tune with your body.
That said, we’ve broken down the week-by-week process of a menstrual cycle. Hopefully, this will give you a more comprehensive understanding of what to expect, as well as how to love your body and mind before, during, and after your period.
Week One: The Start Of Your Cycle
Your period week marks the start of your cycle (days 1 - 7). Menstruation is your body shedding the uterine lining that was built up in preparation for pregnancy. There is a lot of "out with the old and in with the new" going on—both mentally and physically during this time.
CARE FOR YOUR BODY PHYSICALLY: This is a time to tune in to what your body is needing physically, and there are a ton of holistic remedies for soothing your aches and pains:
Take a Clary Sage oil-infused bubble bath. Clary Sage can help balance hormones and soothe the cramping associated with menstrual flow. Rub it directly onto the skin using a carrier oil.
If you don't have time for bubble baths and need some quick relief, invest in a heating pad to give the body some warmth and soothing comfort.
Try slow yoga and specific poses for when you are menstruating. Meditate and walk during this time, remembering to breathe and allowing for moments of being present.
Increase your intake of fats, proteins, dark green veggies, and dark chocolate!
Drink warm beverages made from herbs for overall comfort and balance. There are some great recipes for making soothing period tonics on Mind Body Green.
CARE FOR YOUR BODY MENTALLY: Some women experience a more prolonged Premenstrual Syndrome phase, making the start of their period a little more foggy, moody, and mentally draining. Other women may experience an immediate increase of energy on the first day of blood flow due to the spike in estrogen levels and "feel-good chemicals.” Towards the end of your period (days 5 - 7), you may start to feel extra in tune with the world around you. This is because of the low levels of progesterone.
This is a good time to focus on creative projects or connect with loved ones.
Notice what your body is needing emotionally during this time—it may be that you need extra love and downtime, or you may want to get out into the world.
Week Two: After Menstruation & Before Ovulation Begins
Your body starts to re-build the endometrium wall and prepares for the release of a mature egg from the ovaries. Also, your estrogen and testosterone levels are rising.
CARE FOR YOUR BODY PHYSICALLY: You’ll notice that you're feeling a lot more like yourself during this time. Your body has lost some of the excess water weight that it may have been using during your period, making you feel less bloated. Any hormonal acne has retreated, and you may notice your skin is glowing.
This is a great time to get out and mingle with friends and family. If you’re single, this could also be a wonderful time to date.
Allow for exercise and more cardio, but don’t overdo it.
Continue to get sleep, drink lots of water, and take time for your to-do lists.
CARE FOR YOUR BODY MENTALLY: Mentally, you are feeling more confident, motivated, and overall more energized. Channel that focus.
Allow space for creating or completing projects.
The spike of estrogen can cause a lot of energy and lead to anxiety if not monitored, so maintain intentional breath-work and don’t overwork yourself.
Week Three: Ovulation Phase
This is the optimal time to become pregnant, making it crucial for connecting with the body and knowing when to practice safe sex. If you’re trying to get pregnant, let the magic happen!
CARE FOR YOUR BODY PHYSICALLY: What's fascinating about this phase is, while it lasts five to seven days, an egg is only released on one day. Many women will feel cramping in the ovaries (either on the right or left), which is an indication that an egg is being released into the fallopian tubes. It remains there for 24 hours, waiting for a sperm. If not fertilized, it dissolves (our bodies are amazing)!
Because this is the optimal time for pregnancy, there is typically an increase of libido due to the higher levels of testosterone. You may feel inspired to wear sexier clothes. You may also feel attracted to the pheromones of others.
This is a great time to enjoy scented candles, essential oils, and getting dressed up.
Take this week to honor yourself.
CARE FOR YOUR BODY MENTALLY: Whether you are at the beginning or end of ovulation, it is important to be mentally aware of where you’re at in your cycle. When you're feeling extra flirtatious, honor that, and if you’re feeling a little more confident, dress up! Do whatever makes you feel the best, and honor your body.
Be aware that, towards the end of ovulation, libido levels can drop due to higher levels of progesterone. This can bring lower energy levels and less sex drive. This phase is called pre-PMS and can cause some mood swings.
Remember, your body is trying to create life, so be extra gentle with yourself and allow time for rest.
Week Four: PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
Once you have finished ovulating, the increase of progesterone aids in the uterine lining thickening to create a nest for a potential embryo to form. If there is no fertilized egg, your estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone will decrease, and this can cause some significant fluctuations in the body.
CARE FOR YOUR BODY PHYSICALLY: This phase can be a real challenge for women both physically and mentally. However, the good news is that there is a spike in libido again during this time. This spike can help with some of the not so pleasant physical and mental symptoms. Physically, you may notice some hormonal breakouts, breast tenderness, and fatigue.
Focus on getting plenty of sleep and minimize too many social commitments.
Make healthy meals and continue to exercise as that can aid in balancing mood swings, as well as help with physical discomfort throughout the week.
CARE FOR YOUR BODY MENTALLY Communicate with your partner and the people around you about your symptoms so that you don't feel alone. Know that this is just part of the process in your body’s rejuvenation.
Enjoy quiet moments alone during this time to read and journal. Practice saying, "I love you, body" a lot.
Start a gratitude journal at night before you go to sleep to remain in a state of positivity.
If you feel symptoms of depression or sadness, reach out to the women in your life. Drink tea together or chat on the phone about the magical and complicated process of experiencing menstruation.
Rest, Love Yourself, Repeat
In an ideal world, we could rest and be alone during the harder days of our cycles. However, many women lead busy lives, and there may not always be time to relax, journal, or take baths. But it is essential to listen to what your body needs throughout menstruation and to practice the innate intuition that we as women are gifted with. In doing so, we can live our happiest and healthiest life.