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Journey Through The Waves: Understanding Your Hormonal Symphony

Isn’t it mind-boggling how we spend endless hours in school cramming our brains with information that has no relevance to our daily lives, while essential aspects are left in the shadows?  Who needs practical skills like tax filing, emotional intelligence, or cooking a nutritious meal when we can recite the periodic table like a parrot? 

All jokes aside, this knowledge gap even extends to many medical professionals who find themselves in the dark. They often lack comprehensive knowledge of women’s health, no fault of their own, but because they were never properly equipped with this crucial information. As a result, when faced with health concerns, their default solution becomes prescribing birth control pills as a cure-all, without fully appreciating the profound significance of each phase of the menstrual cycle. (and just like that, all the guys tap out of this blog!).

Although birth control may have a time and place, shouldn’t we first grasp the significance of each phase of the menstrual cycle? Let’s bring awareness to the fact that these phases play a crucial role in hormone balance, reproductive health, fertility, and our overall physical and emotional well-being.

Now I admit this topic isn’t your conversation starter or a crowd-pleaser, but society has created a culture of silence and secrecy around menstruation, treating it as a taboo topic rather than a natural bodily process. And to top it off, we are told the only way to deal with this “gross” inconvenience is to pop birth control pills like they’re going out of style.  (Pssst! Stay tuned for our next blog on what happens to your hormones, emotional state, and nutrient processing when you introduce conventional birth control into the mix.)

Now, let’s dive into the “fifth vital sign” and provide the knowledge we all deserve.

Phase 1: Menstrual Marvels aka Your Period

As the curtain rises on your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels are at their lowest, setting the scene for new beginnings. Your uterine lining is shedding while a delicate dance of hormones begins. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) take center stage, accompanied by estrogen and progesterone.

To support this phase, focus on antioxidants and nourishing foods rich in iron, such as leafy greens, legumes, and lean meats. Light exercises like yoga or brisk walks can help alleviate cramps and promote relaxation.

Phase 2: The Follicular Frenzy – Awakening Energy

Enter the follicular phase, where anticipation builds like the first rays of dawn. FSH steps forward, encouraging the growth of follicles within the ovaries. As these tiny follicles mature, they produce estrogen, the leading lady of this act. Slowly but surely, estrogen levels rise, bringing a fresh burst of energy and vitality.  

To support this phase, incorporate foods rich in B vitamins, such as whole grains, nuts, and seeds. And get your sweat on with some moderate-intensity workouts like strength training or cardio to boost energy levels.

Phase 3: Ovulation Overture – The Grand Spectacle

Now it’s time for a grand spectacle: ovulation. LH steals the spotlight, triggering the release of usually just one mature egg. Estrogen also surges during this phase. It’s important to note that ovulation is important for more than just those trying to conceive!  Without ovulation, you do not create the levels of progesterone about to take place next.

To support ovulation, focus on foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish, chia seeds, and walnuts. Engage in activities that promote balance and flexibility, such as Pilates or dancing, to enhance circulation and maintain hormonal equilibrium.

Phase 4: Luteal Symphony – Nurturing Possibilities

As the curtains close on ovulation, a new ensemble takes the stage. The ruptured follicle transforms into the corpus luteum, releasing a symphony of progesterone and estrogen. Progesterone levels gradually rise, reaching their peak during the mid-luteal phase. Meanwhile, estrogen gracefully harmonizes with progesterone, maintaining the uterine lining in preparation for a possible pregnancy. (Did you know that for most women, the fertile window is about six days? That’s why the fertility awareness method, when used correctly, is not only natural but quite effective.)

To support this phase, prioritize foods rich in magnesium, such as leafy greens, avocados, and dark chocolate. Engage in low-impact workouts like gentle yoga or swimming to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Phase 5: Pre-menstrual Prelude – Transitions 

As the cycle draws to a close, the spotlight shifts once again. If fertilization and implantation have not occurred, the corpus luteum begins its graceful descent. Progesterone and estrogen levels begin to wane, while FSH and LH make their grand re-entrance. The stage is set for a fresh start, signaling the end of one cycle and the dawn of another.

To support this phase, focus on foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries, and bell peppers. Engage in activities that promote stress relief, like meditation, to ease pre-menstrual symptoms and restore balance.

Final Thoughts:

You’ve now witnessed the magnificent interplay of hormones throughout your menstrual cycle. From the hushed whispers of FSH and LH to the dramatic crescendos of estrogen and progesterone, your body orchestrates a captivating symphony with each passing phase.

By educating everyone about menstrual cycles, we can:

Foster Body Literacy: Menstrual education equips individuals with a deep understanding of their bodies, allowing them to recognize what is normal and when to seek assistance.  Identifying normal vs. out of balance is key.  Would you even know when to ask for help? 

Promote Reproductive Health: Knowing the intricacies of the menstrual cycle allows us to recognize the unique patterns and signals that our bodies send us throughout each phase, empowering us to make informed decisions about our health and well-being. It allows us to feel confident embracing natural birth control methods, optimize our chances of conception, or to do the complete opposite and prevent this.

Encourage Self-Care and Wellbeing: This awareness allows individuals to connect with their bodies, identifying patterns and changes in mood, energy levels, and overall wellbeing. By honoring these fluctuations, individuals can practice self-care tailored to their unique needs during different phases of the cycle.

As you finish reading this, perhaps thinking of yourself, a family member, or your very own daughter, I hope it emphasizes the significance of integrating these learnings into our healthcare education. Let’s spread the word and allow future generations to be more in tune with this topic than the latest TikTok dance!

Should you wish to learn how you can further support your cycles, correct body system imbalances resulting from contraceptive use, or enroll in one of our programs that incorporates key aspects, meals, and nutrients dedicated to supporting each phase and your goals, send us via email at [email protected] or schedule a free 20-minute consultation. 

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