Our bodies are very similar to the natural environment, and learning to honor our own powerful internal cyclical nature is a gift. In fact, I believe that understanding how your hormones work in each phase of your cycle is the key to maximizing your potential, in both your personal and professional life.
Each month, a woman experiences different physical and emotional changes as a result of her menstrual cycle. I compare these ebbs and flows to nature’s seasons. There is a reason that nature has darker seasons of cold and quiet, and seasons of growth and light.
As a hormonal health coach, I’ve educated women for years about these phases. But it’s recently occurred to me that if the people we share our lives with are ignorant of these changes, we’ll never be able to take the best care of ourselves or our partners.
So I’m sharing my guide for how both women and men should approach each phase. I wrote this post with straight couples in mind, but the information could be useful to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
1. The Bleeding Phase
Women: On the first day of your cycle, your progesterone levels drop significantly, which causes the shedding of your uterine lining. Progesterone is considered an anti-anxiety hormone, so this sharp drop might have you feeling more agitated. Estrogen also drops during this time, and your energy is at the lowest level in your cycle.
During this week, you may feel tired and withdrawn. You’ll want to rest more than you usually do. You won’t be feeling at your best this week, but this is natural — so be patient with yourself. Here are your action steps for this week:
- Clear your calendar of big social events.
- Pamper yourself with a hot Epsom salt bath.
- Try writing in a journal and reflecting on the events of the past month.
- Limit exercise to gentle movement and stretching, like yoga and walking.
- Incorporate breathing exercises into your day to help lower anxiety.
Men: The key to this week is to find subtle rather than aggressive forms of affection. Your light touch will make her feel loved without intruding on her introspective mood.
- Use gentle touches, like a light foot massage or a kiss on the cheek, to show affection.
- Give her some space. Be there for her — but try not to force your own schedule onto her.
2. The Follicular Phase
Women: This phase follows just after menstruation. It’s called the follicular phase because your pituitary gland releases a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone, which stimulates the follicles in your ovaries to mature. These contain your eggs.
During this week, your estrogen and testosterone levels will rise. This will bring a boost in your energy and will improve your mood. Your confidence will rise and you may find yourself more extroverted and willing to take risks. Testosterone also enhances your libido.
- Initiate new projects this week, as brainstorming and problem solving will be major strengths.
- Make use of those social superpowers by speaking up in meetings, joining a new group, and scheduling time with friends.
- Get out and enjoy physical activities — strenuous exercise will feel great during this time.
Men: Your ways of showing affection may get more aggressive during this time. Spontaneous bear hugs and deep, long kisses will not go underappreciated.
- Take her for a long walk.
- If you have any future planning to do, now is the time to bring it up.
- Plan a big lunch or a dinner party with friends.
3. The Ovulatory Phase
Women: Ovulation is the culmination of all the hard work your body has been doing over the last couple of weeks. An egg gets released from its follicle in your ovary and will survive for 12 to 24 hours. If you’re trying to get pregnant, now is the time. And if you’re not — be careful!
Estrogen and testosterone both rise to peak levels. Your self-esteem will be at its highest and you’ll likely feel sexier and more confident than at any other time in your cycle.
- Use this period for job interviews, networking events, and public speaking.
- Schedule date night with your current beau — or ask someone out!
- Continue to engage in physical activity.
Men: This is the week you’ve been waiting for. She’s going to ooze confidence and sexiness during this time — and you’re going to want to do everything you can to stoke that fire.
- Be direct and passionate. Try to bring out your wild side this week.
- Tell your partner how sexy she looks, and buy her a bouquet of her favorite flowers.
- Plan a romantic night out for the two of you.
- Take a risk, be spontaneous, and talk dirty — even if you miss the mark, she’ll love you for your passion.
4. The Luteal Phase
Women: The first two to three days of this phase will feel a lot like the ovulatory phase. That will begin to change when estrogen and testosterone start to decline and your body starts producing progesterone. Remember, progesterone is an anti-anxiety hormone — like a natural Valium — so you’ll find yourself beginning to wind down. Now is a good time for nesting, chores, and taking care of to-do lists.
The second half of this phase is notoriously difficult for many women. The significant drop in estrogen and testosterone can cause PMS symptoms like cravings, bloating, headaches, anxiety, and moodiness.
- Practice good self-care before your period, and you’ll likely notice less PMS.
- Spend extra time alone or sleep in later one morning — anything that makes you feel balanced.
- Eat healthy foods and take a restorative yoga class.
Men: With a significant drop in energy from the week before, your woman is no longer in the mood for your wildness. Move from being passionate to sensitive and caring. Her emotions during this phase will be raw and less filtered than at other times. Don’t take this personally.
- Hold off on making major decisions or bringing up controversial topics. These can wait.
- Don’t play loud music or schedule large social events.
- Create a tranquil environment for both of you — this is a time for quiet, unspoken deep intimacy. You’ll find that silent love can be powerful.