Nothing has been the same since you started getting your period. Your pharmacy shopping list has gotten longer, your underwear drawer has gotten significantly less pristine, and you pretty much feel cramps once a month that only get better with a hot water bottle. Perhaps most major change, though, is the extent to which your biology has since come to straight up run. Your. Life. Even the most badass among us can be totally sidelined by a nasty bout of cramps — and don't even get me started on the fatigue and the feels. There's a new buzzword in women's health, though, and it aims to help us all take back our lives: Menstrual cycle syncing. So how does cycle syncing work? If you can commit to it, it really seems like it could help put your period in its place.
According to natural healing site Natural From The Ground Up, cycle syncing is essentially the process of matching your lifestyle to your menstrual cycle by making intentional health and activity choices based on hormone levels and where you are in your cycle. When done effectively, cycle syncing should ideally make both your period and your life better. Natural From The Ground Up quotes Alisa Vitta's WomanCode:
I call it cycle syncing — think of it as a form of embodied time management — where your hormones create structure. This practice comes back to the idea of using your body as a tool — harnessing your hormones to perform better, smarter, and more proficiently every single day.
Sounds good, right? You can count me in.
With the help of some handy charts from Healthline and Lee From America, I've compiled some notes about what you can expect during each of the three (four, if you count your actual period) phases of your cycle and what you can do to sync your life to each one. Understanding these four phases is the basis of cycle syncing.
You know this phase well. I'm talking about those one to five days of the month during which your uterus sheds its lining, causing an all too inconvenient round of bleeding. Hormones estrogen and progesterone are low during this time, which is technically part of the follicular phase (more on that next). During your period, stick to light exercise and treat yourself to rest, fresh air, and self-care. Work with the rising hormone levels in your body by drinking tea. You might find this is a great time for introspection and QT with y-o-u.
For about a week after your period is finished, estrogen and progesterone are back on the rise. As a result, you might experience lower stamina than usual, which means you should still plan for lower impact exercise (think yoga, or a light run). Maximize your meal planning by including sprouted and fermented foods that will assist in the metabolization of the hormones in your system.
For two days in the middle of your cycle, estrogen in your system peaks, and testosterone and progesterone will continue to rise. This phase is perhaps best known for its fertility, as its the time that an egg releases from your ovary and is ready to be fertilized. In addition to being prime time for getting it on (your hormone levels during this phase will result in an especially high libido whether you're trying to get pregnant or not), the two days of the month that you're ovulating are also ideal for more intense workouts and anti-inflammatory foods like whole fruits, vegetables, and almonds. You'll likely crave socialization more while you're ovulating than at other times of the month, so plan your social events around these days if you can.
Roughly 10 days before your next period begins, hormone levels begin to decrease (assuming, of course, you didn't get pregnant while you were ovulating). Expect low energy and sex drive, so fuel your bod with serotonin-producing and magnesium-heavy food like greens, quinoa, buckwheat, dark chocolate, and pumpkin seeds.
If you think that cycle syncing could improve your quality of life, you should probably start by tracking your cycle over the course of a few months so you can map out how your menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases will fall in the months ahead. From there, you can start planning out meals, romantic trips, workout classes, and happy hours accordingly in order to get your life in closer alignment with your biology.
Isn't it refreshing to realize that we might not have to spend the rest of our lives fighting against our periods? Why not make those cycles work for you?