SOME days you feel energised and productive, others you can barely drag yourself out of bed. Sound familiar?
For many women, hormones play the biggest role in how we feel.
Many of us might feel that having a period is a nuisance but understanding our cycle and its seasons can help us learn more about why we act the way we do – and teach us to start planning our life around them.
According to leading gynaecologist Dr Ellie Rayner, you can take advantage of your fluctuating hormone levels to make your period work for you.
She believes you can utilise each phase to increase productivity and help us to succeed at work, optimise our physical energy, have more patience with the kids and become a better partner and friend.
Here she explains the phases or ‘seasons’ of the menstrual cycle, so you can tune into your body and work out what your body needs and when, giving you a better chance of feeling your best.
WINTER: Menstrual phase (days 1-7)
This is the first day of your period. Your oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest as your uterus sheds its lining, meaning you’re more likely to be low on energy during this time.
Dr Ellie Rayner says: “Prevent burning out by slowing down. Like a hibernating animal, you should keep warm, rest and recharge your batteries.
“You might find yourself being easily annoyed by others, so in the evenings try to make time for yourself.
“Enjoy a relaxing bath, read a book or do some gentle exercise, such as yoga.
“Being easier on yourself and taking stock will mean you’re better able to pick up the pace the following week.’
SPRING: Proliferative phase (days 8 -13)
Your oestrogen levels are rising steadily throughout this week, causing the lining of your uterus to regrow as your ovary prepares to release an egg.
Dr Ellie Rayner says: “Everything should be feeling easier day by day now, so it’s a good time to be productive – get creative, start planning, and tackle new projects or challenges.
“Your memory and concentration will improve and higher oestrogen levels make you feel confident and motivated, so now is the time to say yes to everything!
“Do that activity with the kids you didn’t feel like doing a week ago, apply for that job you’ve been thinking about, or join in with a Zoom call you didn’t fancy during the winter phase.’
SUMMER: Ovulatory phase (days 14-21)
As oestrogen reaches its highest peak in the cycle, ovulation is triggered. An egg is released from your ovary and into the fallopian tube.
Testosterone levels also peak just before ovulation and straight afterwards, both oestrogen and testosterone levels fall rapidly, replaced with rising progesterone levels.
Dr Ellie Rayner says: “It’s summertime and just before ovulation is your greatest time to shine.
“Right before your egg is released, you should be at your most energetic, sociable, confident and feminine.
“Not only that, but your testosterone levels might cause you to feel more impulsive and daring, meaning you’ll feel you can do just about anything this season!
“You could nurture relationships, run around with the children or lead the way at work.
“Your libido will also be at its highest just before ovulation, and due to increased endorphins, your pain threshold will be higher – so if you’re planning a bikini wax, now is the best time to do it.”
AUTUMN: Luteal phase (days 22-28)
Progesterone levels continue to increase throughout the second half of your cycle and are highest while the body prepares the lining of the uterus, in case of fertilisation.
Dr Ellie Rayner says: “Just like Autumn and its changeable weather, your mood might be very up and down, you might be feeling self-critical and sensitive.
“Progesterone can also make you feel quite subdued, so this fourth week is the perfect time to get things done at home.
“If you’re able to, plan a day or two off work – experiencing a low mood can be difficult to explain and to hide from others. Taking on organisational tasks can feel rewarding and it’s a good time to make important decisions.
“You may find your appetite is bigger and you crave comfort foods and familiarity. As you approach the end of the week, begin to slow down a little and prepare for the cycle to begin again.
“We often ignore what our body is telling us, so try to acknowledge its needs and most importantly, be kind to yourself.”
There is no need to worry if your seasons alter slightly from the framework above.
Every woman is unique, and some may have longer or shorter phases. Tracking your cycle is key to a greater understanding.
Dr Ellie Rayner can be found here.
Source: The Sun