Today, we’re delving into one of the coolest women’s health phenomenon's we’ve come across in a while: cycle syncing. (And no, we’re not referring to period syncing, the belief that women who live together or spend a lot of time together will eventually begin menstruating at the same time, but let’s be sure to ‘go there’ another time.) Rather, cycle syncing is a relatively new theory that involves adapting your lifestyle (diet, exercise routine, social engagements, etc…) to the different phases of your monthly menstrual cycle. Why would someone want to do this, you may be wondering? Well, according to Alisa Vitti, the founder of the concept and a functional nutritionist, cycle syncing may have the ability to improve symptoms of PMS, increase energy levels, increase libido, and boost mental health. Ultimately, cycle syncing is a way for women to exercise control over their hormones and indulge in a little menstrual self-care, and what’s more empowering than that? Keep reading to learn all there is to know about the latest women’s health trend, cycle syncing.
What is Cycle Syncing?
There’s no denying that fluctuating hormones during your menstrual cycle impact women in a variety of ways. Not only do most women feel that something isn’t quite right, but the research is there to back it up. Changing female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, can influence everything from mood and energy levels to pain tolerance and the food you’re craving. Through cycle syncing, women can gain a better understanding of their body. Cycle syncing enables women to be more in tune with their natural rhythm, which in turn, prevents them from being a victim of their hormones. By adapting their lifestyle according to the phase of their menstrual cycle they are currently experiencing, women can maximize their hormonal power and optimize their well-being. If you’re wondering who should try cycle syncing, it’s really for everyone! However, certain groups of women may benefit from it more, including those who struggle with weight loss, are trying to conceive, have low libido, have polycystic ovarian syndrome, have heavy, irregular, or painful periods, and who struggle with PMS symptoms.
The Four Phases
Your monthly cycle consists of four distinct phases: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, and the luteal phase – and y.ou thought your body was complex before! Learning how each phase affects your mind and body is crucial to cycle syncing. Once you understand how your hormones are impacting you, you can make the necessary changes to combat these effects.
*Note: The breakdown below includes recommendations for diet, exercise, and lifestyle that women should engage in to optimize and rebalance hormone levels. It also includes an average time span for each phase. However, it’s important to keep in mind that every woman is different and if you decide to try out cycle syncing for yourself, the first step will be determining the timing of your own unique phases.
The Menstrual Phase: Days 1-6
The menstrual phase begins on the first day of your period. During this phase, estrogen and progesterone are low, and the lining of the uterus is shed, which results in bleeding. Due to this loss of blood and iron, many women feel fatigued.
The Follicular Phase: Days 7-13
The follicular phase is when your hormone levels are on the rise. During this phase, the ovaries are growing follicles (up to 30 of them), each of which contains an egg. Later on in the phase, one lucky follicle will take over and the others will stop growing. This follicle starts to produce estrogen, which thickens the uterine lining to prepare for implantation of the fertilized egg. Overall, this phase is where you’ll be most mentally alert and have high energy levels.
The Ovulatory Phase: Days 14-17
The ovulatory phase is an important one, but it’s also the shortest. During this phase, the egg is released and travels down the fallopian tube, where it may be fertilized. Hormone levels are at their peak during this phase which means a few things. The good news? Increased confidence and sex drive. The bad news? Increased vaginal discharge.
The Luteal Phase: Days 18-28
If the egg has been fertilized (AKA conception), it will travel to the uterus, where it will implant in the uterine lining. However, if the egg was not fertilized, then hormone levels will drop and your uterus will prepare to shed its lining (and back to the menstrual phase we go!). Progesterone and estrogen levels are highest at the beginning of this phase, which means more normal energy levels and a balanced mood. But by the end, assuming you’re not pregnant, you can expect the likes of bloating, cramping, and other premenstrual symptoms.
How to Get Started
Interested in giving cycle syncing a go? Don’t be intimidated. If you know your cycle, it’s really quite simple! There are several apps available that can help you track your cycle, and get you familiar with each phase, such as MyFLO, Glow, and Kindara. Be patient, as it can take up to three months before you can accurately identify how long each phase of your cycle is. Once you are in tune with your body’s natural rhythm, it’s time to let the cycle syncing begin!
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