Last week my heart was racing all day, I had a horrible sick-jittery feeling in my chest, and my body felt a bit racey all over.
For no good reason. Ah well ok, it was the 2 soy chai lattes I drank while trying to keep up with Bloody Good Chap’s latte habit.
Full blown anxiety, yet with none of the problematic thoughts. Such an odd feeling.
There are certain times of the month where I can have caffeine (even a whole actual coffee!) and feel wonderful, extra chatty, and basically like superwoman.
There are other times of the month that even the most stupidly, embarrassingly tiny amount of caffeine (e.g. a chai latte!) will set my heart a-race allll day.
At 3am I’ll still be jittering around in my sheets, eyes wide like a peacock while BGC slumbers peacefully next to me.
The day I realised that my menstrual cycle affects not just my sex drive, but also my caffeine sensitivity, my energy, my ability to focus on detail (or lack of), my feelings towards Bloody Good Chap, AND my motivation was the day that…
Er, I don’t know what happened that day actually. But whenever it was, it was a bloody great milestone in the history of my self understanding.
So, my fellow legendary women (and hello, men readers who might massively benefit from this info also),
I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned about our menstrual cycle so that you can observe your own cycle and start to live in sync with your period like I’m learning to.
I can’t tell you how much of a game-changer it is!
This is something I talk about with my Bloody Good Life clients, but I think every woman (and man!) should know this, so I’ll see if I can wrangle the basics into something sensical for you…
Obviously we’re all different, but here’s the gist of it:
In the wise realms of period cycle tracking, week 1 starting from day 1 (when your period starts) is sometimes called “winter”, also known as the menstrual phase.
We’re bleeding, and our body is doing some things and stuff,
so we need extra rest, hibernation, probably a bit of introversion, and possibly slower paced exercise.
Not always a good time to plan a huge BBQ at your place, or to do hard core workouts (for me, anyway), at least not until later in the week.
Around day 7ish, we’re moving into spring, gearing up to ovulation. Also known as the follicular phase.
We have a spring in our step, a lot more energy, we’re often more extroverted and can handle more socialising, more high powered exercise, and our brain seems to be more creative.
Sex is getting more and more appealing. I can generally handle a bit of caffeine around this time without the jitters.
Around day 10 ish, bam, you’re already into summer – energy to burn, sex drive at its peak, socialising be like, fun and stuff, and apparently we can be better at communicating around this time. I often feel more confident and charismatic in this phase. Also known as the ovulation phase, lasts til about day 14-16 ISH. Caffeine still all good.
Sex = yes please, at all times.
Suddenly I notice hot men EVERYWHERE, and Bloody Good Chap seems to always be at his peak hotness at this time.
From ovulation up until we next bleed = autumn, also known as the luteal phase. I find I often have a sudden low, slow day, a day or two after I ovulate, which I’ve come to not hate anymore.
I figure my body is pissed to have wasted another egg on not making a baby and its reaction is to sulk for a day, fair enough.
I find I can wayyyyy more easily focus on spreadsheets and detail oriented tasks this week (or two), weird. In the week before my period I have less energy, I’m often more present, more inclined to go a bit slower, and I feel a lot more introverted (friends? Who needs friends?). I like doing slow yoga and yin in this phase, rather than punching and running and lifting.
Makes me sound like I punch and run and lift a lot. I don’t.
I also feel a LOT less like sex towards the end of this phase, and a LOT more like snuggling.
Caffeine during this phase = hell. Must remember for next cycle.
Then bam, just as quick as it went, winter is back again and we’re into a new round of hormones.
Obviously our cycles can vary radically, and many of you will be on some kind of contraception that fecks with ya hormones, which will change your cycle, but I still think it’s worth experimenting with – monitor your moods, your energy, your sex drive, even the foods you crave over the next few cycles and notice if there are any patterns.
Understanding my cycle has helped me be kinder to myself, fall off the wagon less, and not push myself to the point of burnout when my body is asking for the opposite.
Sorry body, for all those nights of sinking big, blue, heavy-duty anti-inflammatories and heading out for a drunken 4am night out when you really just wanted to read Harry Potter in bed.
I used to feel quite snappy and irritable leading up to my period, and now I generally feel really calm and grounded and I often experience a lovely sense of ease in that week – because I now know my body so well I take measures to look after it best for each part of my cycle.
So if you sometimes feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle to keep consistent, motivated and “on the wagon” – perhaps it’s time to consider this:
You are not a robot.
You are also not a man, with their straight-ass hormones that are more like a metal ruler than a wave.
Your energy and motivation is not linear, it’s a wavy, circly, cycle thing.
Just like we know that plants and animals hibernate in winter and take a chill pill, then burst into growth in spring; stand strong in summer, then chill down again as autumn rolls round; just like we know the tide comes in and out and the moon goes round and round, we can start to treat our body like the bloody genius, cyclical machine it is, and stop pretending we’re a straight line.
Then, instead of draining our energy trying to fight the tides, we can surf when the tide’s up, and replenish our energy when it’s not.
BLOODY GOOD CYCLE RESOURCES:
Yes, I made a period pun. Bit weird.
I nearly deleted it… but I’m a big believer that we’ve got to claim back our right to talk about periods and blood and female hormones without cringing and shhing ourselves – they are NOT things to hide from just so men (and women!) can feel more comfortable with something they don’t understand.
I use the Sympto Thermal Method to track my fertility/ as natural contraception – it’s not for everyone unless you’re good at following rules to avoid pregnancy (but it’s epic for self understanding even if you don’t use it as contraception!). I wrote about it here:
I highly recommend you check out Alissa Vitti’s app: My Flo. It’s a beautiful, free period tracker that gives you all the info you need to know on what your hormones are doing throughout each phase, and it gives recommendations for sex, love, exercise, focus, and what to eat for each phase!
You can even get the app to email your partner to give him/her recommendations for what they can do to best support you in each phase (and what kinds of sex or romance you might like/ not like during each phase!) So cool!
Sometimes Bloody Good Chap says to me, Dre, you’re in the luteal phase! Then he snuggles me extra, because the email told him I might like extra hugs in that phase!
I also HIGHLY recommend you check out @_clairebaker_ on Instagram and her website thisislifeblood.com – Claire is an authentic legend, women’s coach and menstrual educator – she has loads of amazing resources for understanding your cycle. You can learn a lot about each day of your cycle from watching Claire’s lovely insta stories too.