How to take back control of your cycle to feel more energized and comfortable
Words by Kylie Petty | Photo by Paige Minor
Alter a few of your daily habits to help aid the aches and pains that come monthly with your period. Take the power of your body and period back into your hands with cycle syncing.
From puberty to menopause, women have to deal with and suffer through their period. Girls were raised with the understanding that nothing they do can get rid of it. There’s Midol to dull the pain, but that’s not a long term fix. Other solutions like birth control greatly impact hormones, especially estrogen. Cycle syncing has been making waves around social media as a healthy way to manage period pains. Learn more about its benefits and how to implement it into your daily routine.
What is cycle syncing?
Cycle syncing is easy to understand. It just means you adjust your diet, exercise, and some lifestyle habits based on the phase of your menstrual cycle. You might find this leads you to becoming more productive or having more energy.
During a woman’s 28 day cycle, her hormones greatly fluctuate, yet she needs to go on with her daily tasks. People can combat this by understanding what stage they are currently in and how to best adjust their routines to feel their best.
UnityPoint gynecologist Jeanna Panosh explains that there’s a caveat — hormonal birth control may impact your key menstrual hormones, causing an irregular cycle. But it’s not just birth control that causes this.
“Sometimes it’s related to an imbalance of hormones, including hormones released by the brain, thyroid, and ovaries,” Panosh says.
There are other factors that can influence your cycle, like your stress levels, how often you exercise, and your body weight.
“We’re all unique individuals and what is true for one may not be true for another,” Panosh says.
Why should I cycle sync?
You might feel that during your period, you struggle to accomplish some of your tasks. According to a 2022 study by Digital Health of nearly 2,000 women, it was found that a majority of these women felt moderate to severe impacts on workplace productivity. Half of them felt uncomfortable speaking freely with their manager about issues related to their menstrual cycle. More than 45 percent had to miss days at work due to their menstrual cycle.
By cycle syncing, you can alleviate some of these issues. You can stay productive, stay at work, and more importantly, you might just feel better. Cycle syncing is also beneficial if you’re trying to get pregnant. In general, understanding each stage of your cycle also allows you to best prepare for sex.
How do I start?
It’s essential to understand each of the four phases of your cycle in order to start tracking: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. Map out your cycle based on how many days it lasts. The average cycle is 28 days, but can vary between 21 and 35 days. Listening to what your body wants and needs in terms of diet and exercise can help the cycle flow.
During menstruation, estrogen and progesterone levels are low, meaning less energy and a lower mood. To work against the lows during any phase, Panosh recommends focusing on good sleep, healthy diet, exercise, and stress reduction.
“We encourage a clean diet with a variety of healthy foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains,” Panosh says.
After menstruating, you’ll enter the follicular stage. The uterine lining is building back up post-shedding and estrogen levels are on the rise. This results in a significant rise in energy. Take advantage of this energy by getting big tasks done and hitting the gym harder.
For about the next three days, your body goes through the ovulatory stage, better known as ovulation. This is when you’re most likely to get pregnant because the egg leaves the ovary. Estrogen and progesterone levels are at their highest. Due to this, you might experience increased sex drive, feel more confident and more social.
The final stage of your cycle, the luteal stage, lasts for 10 days. If you’re not pregnant, your hormone levels will begin to decline. This results in the shedding of your uterine lining — your period. You’ll likely experience anxiety and concentration issues. One major component of the luteal stage is premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For many women this brings on nausea, acne, bloating, and headaches. Take it easy during this stage with low-impact workouts and wash your face with a cleanser to keep your pores clear.
Resources for cycle syncing
The Flo app, Cycle Tracking for iPhone, and Eve by Glow are all examples of free apps you can download today to get started. If you’re not into apps, pick up a cycle tracking journal. You can keep track of how long each phase lasts, monitor any symptoms you might have, and be more aware of your overall reproductive health. Regardless, Panosh advises that any irregularities to your cycle should be discussed with your doctor.