Guest blog by Robyn Srigley, also known as The Hormone Diva, is a Holistic Nutritionist, who specializes in supporting women with PCOS and Endometriosis.
Have you wished you never had to experience a period? Or that menstruation is a curse you have to grin and bear as a woman?
Maybe you’ve taken painkillers, birth control or even tried surgery to stop all the ‘bad’ stuff that seems to come with menstruation and being a woman.
I used to be so embarrassed about my period. I felt like a tired, moody, sweaty mess and hated the feeling of blood gushing from me. In my teens on birth control, I took my pills continuously to avoid having my period.
I just figured if the time came to get pregnant, I’d come off the pill, do some baby-dancing and have an easy time.
Years later in nutrition school, I learned more detail about menstrual cycles & conception than I ever knew existed.
For instance, there are four phases to the menstrual cycle, and birth control stops these phases from happening in their natural flow.
When I made the decision to come off birth control with this new knowledge, my experience of my menstrual cycle (& later, fertility) was anything but easy.
I read all the books that I could find about ‘fixing’ my menstrual cycle, which eventually led me to discover Cycle Syncing.
At the time it didn’t have that name, but the concepts of living according to each individual phase of my menstrual cycle in order to support my body instead of trying to force it to do what I wanted was intriguing.
After spending the last eight years consulting with women to balance their hormones, improve their menstrual cycles & enhance fertility, I know one thing to be true:
We all need Cycle Syncing. You. Me. Every person with a menstrual cycle.
And I’m honored to share this incredible practice of living with inner rhythms with you.
In my opinion, Cycle Syncing is a framework for Menstrual Ease & Self-Connection.
The act of honoring the energy of each cycle phase with the foods you eat, the way you move, how you work and how you approach relationships.
For example, menstruation is meant to be a time of lower energy, where we want to rest more and shut out the world (despite what tampon commercials may have you think). When you honor that, instead of pushing through, the intensity of negative feelings (& symptoms) tends to diminish over time.
In the rest of the article, I’ll outline the four phases of the menstrual cycle, as well as the energy of each and specific supports you can use to begin your journey with Cycle Syncing. I’ll finish by addressing how to use this method if you experience irregular (or absent) menstrual cycles, like me.
A healthy menstrual cycle has four phases. The days in which these phases occur will vary depending on your individual cycle length and characteristics. For example, not every woman has a 28-day cycle with ovulation on day 14.
The menstrual cycle begins with the Menstrual Phase. Cycle Day 1 is considered your first day of red flow (not the brown or pink spotting that sometimes comes first). This phase lasts approximately 3-7 days and hormones are at their lowest here.
Next is the Follicular Phase. In a regular cycle, this phase will last about 7-10 days after the period is finished. In women with irregular cycles, this phase may last for months. Hormones like estrogen, testosterone and FSH begin to rise.
Following is the Ovulatory Phase. This phase lasts approximately 4 days, however the actual Ovulatory event is instantaneous, about 12-36 hours after a spike in the hormone LH. This is also the time of highest fertility within the cycle.
Last is the Luteal Phase. This is the “PMS” time, and lasts 10-16 days, beginning after ovulation. After estrogen, testosterone, FSH and LH have spiked leading up to ovulation, progesterone becomes dominant and the other hormones start to decrease. This is typically the phase where women have the most severe symptoms.
We start our menstrual cycles with a bleed. For some, the bleed brings on feelings of relief after emotions have been swirling for days in the Luteal Phase. For others, it brings intense pain.
For me, the relief of my bleed is almost euphoric – that sudden hormone drop is like the calm after the storm and I absolutely love it.
Energy: Low and inward
- Support iron levels with foods like beets, citrus, and red meat
- Complex carbs (like sweet potato, plantain, brown rice) for blood sugar stability
- Increase calories and combine protein and fats
- Low intensity
- Shorter time limits (think under 30 mins)
- Yoga, pilates, walking
- More rest days
- Ideal time to reflect and journal
- Prioritize rest and time alone
- After a stormy, emotional Luteal Phase, listen for the clarity that comes in this phase for making life decisions
Many times my clients have said to me “I only feel good one week out of the month”, and the Follicular Phase is usually that time. The emotional storm of the Luteal Phase is over, the energy-depleting bleed has completed and now hormones and energy are on the rise.
There’s a real hopeful, curious and more innocent energy to this time, meaning you’ll likely feel really good here.
Energy: Rising & outward
- Light meals (can handle more raw food at this time as well)
- Colorful vegetables and salads including broccoli, carrots, lettuce, artichoke and green peas
- Lean protein
- Higher frequency and intensity
- Cardio is easier in this time
- Short HIIT workouts
- Increases in energy and hormones make this a great time for planning, goal setting and being strategic
- You’ll likely feel more social, so going out and having fun is key
- Also a great time to help others, as you’ll be in a ‘giving’ state of mind
Energy: Highest & outward
- Lots of protein & healthy fats
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc to help excrete excess estrogen
- Stay hydrated!
- Your highest intensity workouts are most beneficial here, and will feel easier
- Lifting weights (or even bodyweight workouts)
- This is the sexiest phase – connect with yourself or your partner for pleasure
- Confidence is at an all time high – this is the time to ask for what you want
- You’re social and communicate well during this time
Energy: Diminishing & tumultuous
- Eat more calories to support healthy progesterone and higher basal body temperatures
- Root veggies for complex carbs to support blood sugar as well as the Sacral Chakra (which houses the reproductive organs)
- Chocolate, avocados, tahini and other foods with high Magnesium and Calcium
- Reduce frequency and intensity as energy wanes
- Limit workouts to 30 minutes or less
- Experiment with low intensity movement like yoga, pilates, walking
- Some strength training if you can handle it, with lower weights and higher rest times in between sets
- Emotions and energy levels may feel unpredictable and scary
- This is the time when we’re forced to focus on all the things that aren’t supportive in our lives
- Take time to meditate and breathe through the experience of these emotions to calm the storm and stay resilient
- Not a time for lots of socializing or ‘giving’ – it’s time to receive care from others – ask for it!
YES. I’ve experienced irregular cycles my entire menstruating life. I often can’t predict when I’ll finally shift from my Follicular to Ovulatory phase (an extended Follicular is what delays periods/cycles). Sometimes it’s weeks, and other times it’s months.
Just because my cycle isn’t regular, or the ‘perfect’ 28 days, doesn’t mean I can’t live according to my individual rhythms like any other woman.
There’s many ways to go about this. In my experience, I know using the Lunar Cycle to be the easiest way.
Like the menstrual cycle, the Lunar Cycle has 4 main phases. These phases hold a similar energy to the phases of the menstrual cycle.
For example, the energy at the New Moon, or Dark Moon, is very low and inward. It’s a perfect time to reflect and make decisions. Or during the Full Moon, energy is quite high and outward – often why we connect weird events and animal behaviour to the Full Moon.
So, if you’re menstrual cycles are irregular or totally absent, use the advice for each cycle phase in the corresponding lunar phase (see below)
Menstrual: New Moon
Follicular: Waxing Moon
Ovulatory: Full Moon
Luteal: Waning Moon
To start, figure out the current lunar phase. A quick google search will give you that result.
For example, on the day of writing this, it’s the Waxing Moon phase, meaning the Follicular Phase.
So, I would use the advice of lean proteins, light veggies, more cardio and more socializing during this time.
Then, when the moon goes Full in a few days, I would add some heavy weights to my workout routine, include some cruciferous vegetables with my dinner and make time to connect with my partner.
I would keep repeating this pattern until my own cycle changes (for example, I confirm ovulation or start my menstrual flow) and then follow my own cycle.
Lastly, there is nothing wrong with having a menstrual cycle that doesn’t line up with the Lunar Cycle (ie: you don’t ovulate at the full moon or bleed at the new moon). Every woman’s menstrual cycle is different and beautiful, and deserve to be celebrated.
The key thing to remember about Cycle Syncing is that it’s a practice – not set in stone rules. That means, there’s no ‘failing’, there’s only curiosity, experimentation and learning your own body’s rhythms over time.
It’s a skill to be developed, and the rewards are epic. A deeper connection to and understanding of yourself. More ease in your life. Fewer physical symptoms like exhaustion, PMS, painful periods, depression, anxiety, etc. A feeling of internal power and confidence in your life as a Woman. A greater respect for your body.
I could go on and on.
By considering this journey, you are on the precipice of great things, and I’m so proud and excited for you.
Robyn Srigley, also known as The Hormone Diva, is a Holistic Nutritionist, also known as The Hormone Diva, who specializes in supporting women with PCOS and Endometriosis. Robyn has PCOS herself and was able to reverse all of her symptoms without meds and eventually fell pregnant naturally in September 2018. Through this journey and supporting many other women to do the same, Robyn realizes the importance of deeply understanding what’s going on in your own body and how you can work with it (not against it) to create the health and fertility you so deeply desire.