Find out about the life-changing concept we wish we’d been taught at school.

Once most women have got over the horror or delight (delete as applicable) of getting their period for the first time, they rarely give their menstrual cycle a second thought.

Sure, you may curse the curse when it arrives as you lay down your towel on holiday. Perhaps you are the type who lays in the ibuprofen in preparation for the time of the month. At a stretch you may have recognised that you’re more prone to headaches just before you menstruate.

There is, however, increasing noise about the four distinct phases in every woman’s menstrual cycle and how different we can feel – emotionally and physically – during each one.

The good news is that if you start paying attention to which phase you are in – menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation or the luteal phase – you can improve your experience of your whole cycle, month after month. This beautiful concept is called cycle synching.

By planning your life and work around the cycle,’ says women’s health specialist Marilyn Glenville, ‘it means that we can use those parts of the month where we are the most motivated and productive as well as be kinder to ourselves.’

Maisie Hill, coach, podcast host and author of Period Power, insists that if you are ‘connected to your cycle and the wisdom of your body, you can manage the ebb and flow of your hormones without being ruled by them’.

Imagine if you’d been told during Biology lessons at school that, during certain weeks of the month, you’d be able to harness an increase in energy and pretty much nail life but that, during others, it was perfectly reasonable to want to hide under the duvet with nothing but a hot water bottle for company.

Here, we show you what the phases look like. It’s up to you to empower yourself with this information and figure out how best to do life in the light of it.

Menstruation (Day One To Five)

Time to: treat yourself
The Menstrupedia website describes it thus: ‘The menstrual phase begins on the first day of menstruation and lasts till the fifth day of the menstrual cycle. During this phase, the uterus sheds its inner lining of soft tissue and blood vessels which exits the body from the vagina in the form of menstrual fluid. Blood loss of 10 ml to 80 ml is considered normal. You may experience abdominal cramps. These cramps are caused by the contraction of the uterine and the abdominal muscles to expel the menstrual fluid.’

Follicular Phase (Around Day 8 To 13)

Time to: exercise and socialise
Harper’s Bazaar says: ‘Energy levels are often higher during this phase thanks to rising levels of oestrogen. It’s a good time to learn new things, get creative work completed and to start new projects as you may well be feeling more proactive. Your mind is up for more complex and difficult tasks so it’s a great idea to schedule in heavier pieces of work and those clients who are more intense to work with especially when heading toward ovulation.’

Ovulation (Day 14)

Time to: get romantic
The Very Well Mind website says: ‘This is the point during your cycle when the mature egg is released from the ovary. In the days leading up to ovulation, your body experiences a surge in the luteinizing hormone (LH), which gives the ovary the go-ahead to release the egg. Estrogen and testosterone levels also peak during ovulation, so you may notice your body feels a bit different around ovulation day. The ovulation process typically lasts for about 24 hours, but high hormone levels can last for about three to four days on either end from when the egg is released. The peak of estrogen may mean you feel more energetic than usual, while elevated testosterone levels can cause an increase in extroversion.’

Luteal Phase (Day 15 To 28)

Time to: eat chocolate and listen to your body
The Mind Body Green website describes it this way: ‘The first two to three days of this phase will feel a lot like the ovulatory phase. That changes when estrogen and testosterone decline and your body starts producing progesterone. Since progesterone is an anti-anxiety hormone, you will find yourself beginning to wind down. Now is a good time for nesting, chores and taking care of your to-do lists. The second half of this phase, however, is notoriously difficult for many women. You might feel PMS symptoms like cravings for carbohydrate-heavy comfort foods, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, anxiety and moodiness.’

By Becky Ladenburg
May 2022

Read More
Take The Plunge: The Health Benefits Of Cold Water Swimming
Ten Minutes with… Lisa & Alana MacFarlane, The Gut Stuff
10 Ways To Reduce Your Plastic Use

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.