By Mia Tarduno
Menstrual Cycle Awareness (MCA) is the recognition and education of our natural hormonal cycles as women. We have hormone receptors in every cell in our bodies. Since, as women, it is in our nature to have hormone cycles throughout the month, it completely makes sense that this cycle affects so many things. Here’s just a few:
What if I told you you could predict the changes in all of these categories?
The best way to understand your patterns with your menstrual cycle is to track it. Below I will give some ideas of what may occur during the different parts of your cycle, but every woman is different so before you read on, the big golden rule here is to trust your body. MCA is all about listening to what your body needs and responding without shame, guilt, comparison, or judgement. So please read below with compassion and understanding that some of these may feel completely in alignment with you, and others may not make sense at all and both are perfect in your MCA journey.
Women have four naturally occurring cycles when we are of the ages to be experiencing a menstrual cycle. This will differ if you are on a hormonal contraceptive, pregnant, or in peri-menopause, but it’s possible to still chart your monthly patterns to notice your own unique changes. I like to refer to these cycles as seasons because they have a lot of similar qualities.
First, Winter. Winter is the easiest to describe because it relates to menstruation or the time when you’re actually bleeding. During this time hormone levels are low (See the chart below). That is why a lot of women experience fatigue, exhaustion, and even depression. There is not something wrong with you, your body is working really hard during this time. You’re burning more calories just because your bodies are working on shedding and rebuilding our uterine lining. This is the time to rest. So if you can help it, now is the time to build in as much down time as possible. For more ideas on how to honor this time of the month, check out the “How to Love Your Period” blog.
Next up, Spring. Spring is held within the follicular phase, and happens as soon as menstruation is finished. It is characterized by a lighter energy, more creativity, and a higher tendency towards socialization. This is because the hormone estrogen is rapidly increasing each day at this point in the cycle. This estrogen increase leads to a boost in serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine which can leave you feeling more energetic and creative. This could feel like a great time to make plans, start socializing more, try new things. Some women like to keep a notebook with them to jot down creative ideas that come throughout the day.
Then we move into Summer. Summer is represented by ovulation. This happens approximately two weeks before your next period. During ovulation, the hormones of estrogen and progesterone are both high. This may mean lots of energy! Some women love this feeling of go-go-go time because their bodies may need less sleep, and they can accomplish many tasks during the day. For other women, this energy may feel overwhelming and they may need to remind themselves to take it one day at a time and not overload their plate. This is especially important to prepare for the next season.
Lastly, we have Autumn. Just like the feeling of autumn in nature, this is the time when hormones start to dip and you may start to lose your spunky energy and turn inwards. This phase is held in the luteal phase of the cycle and can be characterized by PMS if you’ve pushed too hard during Spring and Summer or have underlying causes creating more stress and inflammation in the body. Progesterone starts high, which is known for calming the mind and body and increasing appetite (which you’ll need for the week to come!) and then dips as you get closer to menstruation. This is a great season to start slowing down, saying no, and finishing projects that are important to you. During the end of this phase, it is time to start planning the next week of rest. How can you nourish your body during the next week so it will be ready to go in the spring?
Take these ideas one at a time and see if you’d like to incorporate one or two ideas of these seasons into your own cycles. Again, starting by just charting your cycle is a great way to start to learn your patterns. If you want a deeper dive into the seasons, you can take my free online cycles e-immersion that goes into each season in detail with practices to support them.
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