20 Stupid Easy Rules For Better Cycle + Complete Guide towards Understanding Menstrual Cycle

My lovely ladies, let’s chat about the menstrual cycle. But, my dear male readers would also benefit from knowing what we go through each month.

What the heck is going on with my body?

We, ladies, have about 400 Menstrual cycles in our lifetime. Yet most of us know nothing about how this fantastic process works and why cycles are essential to our wellbeing. So, most of us grow up in the dark. Yet, the latest science tells us that our menstrual cycles are one of the most important signs we have as women about our health!

My first period knocked at my door when I was twelve years old. I was embarrassed and disgusted, and I was in pain.  At the time when I was growing up, it was not proper to discuss your menstrual cycle.   So, I learned to suppress my emotions and go on as if nothing happened.  In fact, I had no idea how menstrual cycles affect women.  

I got on the pill at the age of 16, after an unwanted pregnancy. Then, I was on the pill for about twenty-five years. Finally, at 35, I’ve decided to give it up. After three months, my period came back to normal. Thus, my journey to understanding my womanhood has begun. Firstly, I read all the available literature to understand the hormones and biological and evolutionary mechanisms. Secondly, I started religiously tracking my cycles. Finally, I always ask my students where they are in the cycle and track and plan their life around it. And just like myself, many of you have no clue!   We are taught not to be sissy and push through, man up, buckle up, and put a lipstick. It takes a bit of time and effort to get better. Yet, the benefits are amazing.  

Our menstrual cycles are one of the most important signs we have as women about our health. Menstrual characteristics, regularity, and flow can show us our hormonal health but can also tell us about stress, nutrition, deficiencies, and other imbalances. And that’s why I ask all my clients to track and honor their cycle. Many apps exist, but I use a simple $9 Life Planner.

Young girl in the field of flowers

 

The Power And Mystery of Menstrual Cycle.

I ignored my cycles and pretended to play like a boy. As a result,  I neglect the power and mystery of my menstrual cycle. I “suck it up” and got it over with. I painted my nails, went to work, and took meds. 

Fast-forwarding 30 years, I’ve discovered that my menstrual cycle is one of the natural things that make me very different from boys. So, I rediscover my unique creative power. In addition, I found ways to live holistically without compromising my place in society or taking meds.

If you’ve followed my blog, you know I keep a daily log of my life. For this reason, I was able to nail my menstrual cycle.  

Of course, each of us is unique and must find her path. In summary, the following notes are based on my “scientific” research over the last decade or so for you to consume and practice. 

20 Stupid Easy Rules For Better Menstrual Cycle 

The Women's Reproductive System. The Concept Of Women's Health. Paper

  1. Keep track of your cycles in order to understand what it means for your body.
  2. Eat real foods, mostly a plant-based diet high in fiber.
  3. Stay hydrated (add Hibiscus and Ginger Tea).
  4. Don’t ever have unprotected sex with strangers. 
  5. Have sex only with someone you love, know, and trust.
  6. Don’t ever have sex to please anyone but yourself.
  7. Learn how to have orgasms on your own.
  8. Include plenty of fun activities in your life.
  9. Learn how to listen to your body, when to push and work out hard and when to cool it down.
  10. Be engaged and present in life, and don’t just keep it busy for its sake. 
  11. Don’t pretend like you are a boy.
  12. Push yourself enough to be challenged, but not over the edge.
  13. Take a 3-day SOFLY reboot.
  14. Schedule a life-design session to fine-tune your menstrual health with the SOFLY wellness coach.
  15. Plan your life according to your cycles.
  16. Talk to your doctor about hormone tests.
  17. Build Core and pelvic strength with Pilates.
  18. Get plenty of sleep.
  19. Get support and find like-minded women to help you through.
  20. Find passion and be present with life.

How Does A Menstrual Cycle Work?

From an evolutionary and biological perspective, our bodies do what bodies do to prepare us for pregnancy. We get hormonal fluctuations: the development and release of an egg from the ovaries (ovulation) and changes to the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), all of which are part of this preparation. And more! The flow guides our focus, moods, cravings, desires, inspirations, and what makes us human. We can also say that many of us, don’t desire to have children or get to be done with that. So, from our personal evolution, we can say that we could use our cycle in many other ways, which to me, is much more exciting than the old view of the female role in the world! Don’t get me wrong, some of us choose to have children. There is no right or wrong way to live your life. As a woman, you get to decide.

Your Cycle, Your Endocrine System

** Note: I copied and slightly edited the following from the original publication. Please feel free to read the original article! **
Our cycle isn’t just “down there.” The flow affects our brain (hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain),  our thyroid, and the adrenal glands. In other words, our menstrual cycle is a full-on hormonal (endocrine) affair!
Dr. Aviva Romm, MD, the author of the Hormone Intelligence, outlined How Your Menstrual Cycle Works (for Women of All Ages) and the glands that regulate your menstrual cycle:
  • The ovaries which is where your eggs (ova) form before ovulation.
  • The ovarian follicles. Human eggs are stored in their individual sacs called (ovarian) follicles. Each cycle, a group of selected follicles mature. When an egg is ovulated, it leaves its follicle behind.
  • Your brain, specifically the hypothalamus, releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), and the pituitary, releases the luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.
  • Your thyroid, which not only controls metabolism but also is involved in menstrual cycle regularity and function
  • Your adrenal glands, which produce androgens and progesterone
  • There are also quite a few different hormones playing a role in your monthly cycle.   
Next, Dr. Aviava Romm introduces them in detail.
  • Estrogen: The “Queen Bee” hormone. A woman’s body produces three types of estrogen, but estradiol (E2) is the key hormone that majorly influences your development into a woman and your menstrual cycle. It drives the first half of your cycle, helping to build the uterine lining, and helps cue the start of your period to start (unless the egg is fertilized and pregnancy occurs).
  • Progesterone: The hormone that dominates the second half of your cycle. Progesterone helps stabilize the uterine lining, prepares for and supports the body if pregnancy occurs, or helps cue the start of your period with estrogen.
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH): The driving hormone behind ovulation. LH stimulates the ovarian follicles to produce estrogen, causes the ovarian follicle to release the mature egg in the second half of the cycle, and stimulates the corpus luteum (a mass of cells produced in the ovary) to produce progesterone.
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): The primary hormone responsible for the growth of ovarian follicles. These follicles develop before ovulation and contain the developing egg. FSH also increases estrogen production.
  • Androgens: While we think of common androgens, like testosterone, as primarily male hormones, they’re actually produced in our adrenal glands and ovaries. Our follicles also use them to create estrogen and progesterone, which are necessary for a healthy cycle.
  • These hormones fluctuate at different times throughout the month to create the orchestra that is your monthly menstrual cycle, which can be broken down into four distinct phases.

A Healthy Menstrual CycleThe Women's Reproductive System. The Concept Of Women's Health. Paper (3)

The day count for the menstrual cycle begins on the first day of menstruation. The length of the healthy menstrual cycle is 28 days. There are four phases of the menstrual cycle. Alexandra and Sjanie, the founder of the red school and the authors of the Wild Powerbeautifully described each cycle as a season. By understanding the menstrual cycle, we can plan our lives around it. 

As you become more aware and start logging your cycles, you will create an inner guidance system. Of course, there are imbalances, which are the message from your body to your head to take care and take charge. 

In a nutshell, when everything is flowing smoothly, and you’re experiencing a predictable rise and fall of hormones, you shouldn’t have any majorly troublesome symptoms.

Menstrual Phase I (day 1 to 5)

The menstrual phase begins on the first day of menstruation. The uterine and abdominal muscles expel the menstrual fluids, and it can cause cramps.   A uterine lining sheds due to the drop in estrogen and progesterone provided that conception didn’t happen. The discomfort you might experience before your period is caused by a drop in these hormones and an increased production of an inflammatory chemical called prostaglandin. Still, a healthy bleed that is between three to seven days long with some mild discomforts, should not be painful to require medication and thousands of tampons or pads.

Allow yourself some time to rest here! Lower the intensity or stop working out. Try to avoid making plans and schedule time for extra sleep.
You can expect a very energy low point of the month. Allow yourself to rest. Like many of you, I have a hard to penciling in “me time” for that time of the month. Yet, if I don’t, my body will do that for me.
Shifts in our brainwaves during this time may make you crave quiet, alone time, and some R&R. You may find that you’re in a creative ”zone” ripe for journaling or artistic expression.  It’s a great time to give yourself permission to pause, slow down, and rest if you feel you need it. I think of this as a time of shedding layers – which is what your body is actually doing – so do what you can to let go of anything you need to let go of, whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically, to give yourself a metaphorical new start.
  • Body Season: Winter.
  • Movement: Easy non-strenuous.
  • Good time: To read, watch your favorite movies and catch up on sleep.
  • To Avoid: Overeating, waxing, alcohol, cardio, salty food, scheduling, making plans, fasting.

Follicular Phase II (day 1 to 13)

This phase is called the “follicular phase” because our pituitary gland releases a hormone called stimulating follicle hormone. These follicles contain our eggs. Usually, one egg is released each cycle. The follicle phase plays the biggest role in how long our cycle is. In this phase, the uterus starts growing a new endometrium to prepare for pregnancy. The last five days of the follicular phase, plus ovulation day, are our fertile window. This is when we can get pregnant.  

The uterine lining sheds and then starts proliferating, getting thicker, lusher, and ready for implantation if the egg that is released happens to be fertilized. During the follicular phase, estrogen is dominant and testosterone and FSH start to rise.

In other words, it is the best time to be creative and to start new projects. But not too early, Typically, day 5 to day 1o from the bleed is a “peak” season for me. And, it is literally, a peaking estrogen level we can thank for an optimistic mindset. And thanks to the higher level of testosterone (we look prettier and sexier to ourselves), our energy, confidence, motivation, and muscle strength go up. And, let’s not forget the sex drive! Even though evolutionary, nature prepares us to go out, find a partner and conceive. We could really optimize this time and make the biology work for us. Personally, I’ve never wanted to have kids, but my egg fertilized new programs and creative writing. I do most of my public lectures, workshops, and socializing during this time.

So, let biology and your hormones make the best of your follicular phase.

Sometime between day 5 and 7 (keep a log to fine-tune your own).

  • Body Season: Spring begins.
  • Movement: Get ready to pump some iron!
  • Good time: Be creative, have sex, socialize, have fun, start new projects
  • Avoid overdoing (it is easy to get super excited here; allow a gradual transition instead).

Ovulation Phase III (14 -18 days after the first day)

The pituitary gland secretes a hormone that causes the ovary to release the matured egg cell between the 14th and 18th-day of the cycle or mid-cycle.

The mature follicle ruptures and releases the ovum during an efflux of luteinizing hormone that travels down the fallopian tube to meet the “lucky” sperm and fertilize an egg. Or, it passes on down into the uterus unfertilized.

Dr. Aviva Romm writes:

The egg survives for fertilization for about 24 hours, but because viable sperm can be lurking in there for 3-5 days, each month we ovulate we have a fertile window of potentially that length of time. The most fertile period is from about five days before until 1 to 2 days after ovulation.

Some women experience the “Mittelshmerz” sign – a sharp pain in either your right or left side – depending on which ovary is releasing the egg that month.

High estrogen and testosterone levels boost sexual desires and pleasure way up – it’s the time of the month that it’s easiest to experience orgasm, including that toe-curling kind. It’s nature’s sneaky way of trying to get us to reproduce. We unconsciously turn the flame way up, and potential mates are like moths.

Estrogen starts to increase toward its second peak, along with an increase in testosterone, while progesterone really takes over the landscape, being produced by the corpus luteum, the divot in the ovaries where the egg was released from and becoming dominant in the second half of the cycle.

Contrary to popular belief, the egg doesn’t run desperately throughout the tubes and uterus in search of the perfect sperm.   Instead, she sits still and waits until the right sperm comes along. Holistic gynecologist and author Dr. Christiane Northrup has termed this concept “Egg Wisdom”. Her daughter Kate Northrup also wrote a book called Do less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms, in which she has a whole chapter dedicated to Egg Wisdom.

  • Body Season: Summer
  • The best time to find a partner. The egg bursts out of its follicle, and sexual desires are heightened.
  • Movement: Good time to practice high-intensity workouts, amp your yoga practice, and go for a long hike.
  • Practice: Making plans and decisions.
  • To Avoid: even though we tend to feel high, always leave a bit of energy for the next day; draining ourselves dry will not do us any good.

Luteal Phase IV (day 15 to 28)

This phase starts on ovulation day, when the egg is released from the egg follicle on the ovary. It can happen anytime from Day 7 to Day 22 of a regular menstrual cycle. During ovulation, some of us have less than a day of red spotting or lower pelvic pain and discomfort. These signs of ovulation are normal. Assuming you are not pregnant, progesterone and estrogen levels will drop about ten days after ovulation, leading your uterine lining to shed. Hence, we go back into a full-cycle towards the first phase.

The energy is the month’s low point for most women, so give yourself a break!

Dr. Aviva Romm writes:

Shifts in our brainwaves during this time may make you crave quiet, alone time, and some R&R. You may find that you’re in a creative ”zone” ripe for journaling or artistic expression. It’s a great time to give yourself permission to pause, slow down, and rest if you feel you need it. I think of this as a time of shedding layers – which is what your body is actually doing – so do what you can to let go of anything you need to let go of, whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically, to give yourself a metaphorical new start.

Many of us were trained to “men-up,” put the lipstick on, get a pedicure and go to work. I hate this phase. For me, it is about three weeks after my 2nd day of the menstrual cycle. I usually want to kill my husband, quit everything, binge, and sleep. I crave junk, fats, and chocolates. I learned that when we push ourselves at the wrong time we work against our biology. Instead, we can go with a flow and get the best out of life. Too much stress will release specific hormones that make us crave certain foods. Instead, track your cycle and work with it. 

By tracking my cycle, I could reduce bloating, headaches, anxiety, and moodiness to a considerable degree. But, I find it very hard not to push myself and change my habits. 

  • Body Season: Beginning of winter.
  • Movement: Light yoga practice, leisurely walks, and sometimes hard workouts could help
  • Practice: Slowing down, preparing to rest
  • To Avoid:  Confrontations, making plans, overeating, salty foods, shitty people
Knowledge is freedom and power, especially when it Comes to Your Cycle! Of course, we can’t control nature, but we can take our health into our own hands by stopping being bulled and believing that we are weak because we bleed and need to take time for ourselves.   A healthy lifestyle with daily practice (adjusted to all phases), a well-balanced diet, a positive outlook, good friends, and how we react to stress can make a huge difference.
We can choose to see our menstrual cycle as a true gift with heightened sensitivity and an enhanced capacity for insight. We can learn to benefit from our sixth sense, which is stronger around the time of menstruation, and cultivate wisdom.

Sara Gottfried, MDsays:

Love your post, Anna. We all benefit from attaining our deeper truths, which are often masked by oral contraceptives, other synthetic hormones, and anti-depressants. Thanks for sharing your unique insights! Love it!

 

Disclaimer:
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Anna Sheinman. They are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, and they are not intended as medical advice. They are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from my own research and experience. I encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

4 thoughts on “20 Stupid Easy Rules For Better Cycle + Complete Guide towards Understanding Menstrual Cycle”

    • Thank you Deborah,

      It would’ve been so awesome if someone would tell me about womanhood when I was a kid. I know that most of the kids have sex-ed in school. And nowadays, people are more open to talking about “things.” But, I was raised in a culture and family where we didn’t discuss issues. It’s taking years to undo the bad habits.

      Anna:-)

      Reply

Leave a Comment

More

Related Posts

Sofly Do You Yoga Find Your Warrior!

How to Feel Good This Summer Instantly in 10 Easy Steps

I was taking one of my early summer mornings strolls in the forest.  As I was soaking in the shade of the quiet morning sun, I thought about seasons.  Seemingly, autumn, spring, and winter were mellow, but the summer seemed to hit us in one single day, with its quick-burning and growing energy yelling, “Go,

women doing pilates

How to Get Started with Pilates in 3 Days or Less

Introduction: Pilates is one of the most popular forms of exercise in the world, and for a good reason: it’s effective, efficient, and relatively low-impact. But for newcomers, starting a pilates routine can seem daunting. With so many videos, classes, and machines available, how can you be sure you’re picking the right one? And more

Anna Sheinman strong core

Discovering Your Powerhouse

You’ve got the power – how to effortlessly engage your core to empower your body and free your spirit. We try to find balance, ease, and grace throughout our human lives. I believe we live in extraordinary times – the golden age. Our life can be a fantastic tool for self-realization. We have the eastern