Here’s what I think: menstrual cycle planning needs to be taught to girls in schools worldwide.
Because what good is it knowing how to insert a tampon into your vagina, if you don’t understand the ways in which your cycle effects your mind and body?
How menstrual cycle planning can work for you
What’s really going on with your hormones & what this means for you
The term PMS gets thrown around a lot—often as an explanation for why women are emotional and/or irritable just before they start bleeding.
But your hormones are actually changing right through your cycle, and they effect everything. Your energy levels, how focused you are, what food your body needs, your sex drive, your creativity, and even your weight.
And those changes aren’t random. They follow a pattern based on the average length of your cycle—a typical one being 28 days.
You can expect peaks, troughs, dips, and flows during your cycle, with no two days being the same. How you feel at the beginning of your cycle will be dramatically different to how you feel in the middle.
Men and women’s cycles are very different
Men’s bodies don’t work this way. Their hormones have a one day cycle. That means they peak in the morning, drop off at some point later in the day, and reach their lowest energetic point at night. Next morning, they wake up refreshed, and the cycle begins again; meaning every day for them is consistent and fairly predictable.
While it’s completely okay that men and women follow different natural cycles, what’s not okay is that almost everything in our society is designed to suit and cater to men. Yet women make up half of the population.
Women are expected to be highly productive and energised every day in the workplace. Meetings and projects and completion dates are pencilled in to our calendars any time. We’re expected to power through period cramps and headaches, because, well, we have to.
But women don’t work this way. We don’t work the way men do, where every day is the same. So we try and adapt to that male model, and we wind up frustrated, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
Your cycle as a woman is an underutilised strength
But our own 28 day cycle as women is not a weakness, and it’s time we stopped viewing ourselves and our bodies as inferior. Our cycle is actually an underutilised strength; but only if we stop ignoring it and choose to work with it instead of always pushing against it.
We all know the go, go, go, hustle, hustle, hustle mode doesn’t work for anyone. We aren’t machines, and if we don’t give ourselves time to recharge then we’ll burn out. Of course we will—we’re human beings.
But what if I told you you could have more energy, get more done, and feel more in harmony, if only you tuned in to and honoured the different phases of your menstrual cycle?
The truth is, by slowing down and reflecting inwards when our body asks us to, we allow ourselves to restore and re-energise; ready for the time when our body wants to step things up a notch and take on the world.
So, if you’re open to doing things differently, I’d love to show you how menstrual cycle planning can help you feel happier and healthier in all areas of your life.
Menstrual cycle planning: The 4 phases of your menstrual cycle explained
Each of the four phases of your menstrual cycle can be likened to one of the four seasons we cycle through each year.
- Phase 1: Menstruation Phase (Winter)
- Phase 2: Follicular Phase (Spring)
- Phase 3: Ovulatory Phase (Summer)
- Phase 4: Luteal Phase (Autumn/Fall)
These four phases also link to the four main phases of the moon, which you can read more about here.
If your menstrual cycle follows a white moon cycle, then that means you have your menstruation phase around the time of the new moon. This also means that your internal energy will match the energy of the moon.
There are also pink and purple moon cycles, which are less common. None of these cycle are better; just different.
Phase 1: Menstruation Phase (days 1–6) – Intuition & Reflection
Day one of your menstrual cycle is always the first day you begin bleeding.
Oestrogen and progesterone levels are both at rock bottom on the first day of your cycle, and gradually begin to rise in the days after. At this time, the lining of your uterus is being shed, and your energy is at its lowest point in the cycle.
I will often take the first day or two days of bleeding off, or do a little bit of work from bed. I have this luxury, because I run my own business, where as most women have to carry on as normal and head in to work. But even just blocking out some time in your days to be still and reflect in solitude can be really effective.
Conserve your energy
The menstruation phase is definitely a time to slow down, retreat inwards, and conserve your energy as much as possible. You may find you need more rest than usual—always give your body what it needs.
Feeling introverted and introspective is also common during this phase. So give yourself plenty of alone time, and avoid planning social events and meetups for at least the first few days.
Journal & reflect
Journaling could be a powerful way to connect with your intuition (which is at its strongest right now), reflect on the past month, and set new intentions for the coming cycle.
Take care of yourself
Make time for self-care during this phase, and keep exercise gentle—like walking and some easy yoga.
After the first few days of rest, you may have an urge to cleanse and organise. Get rid of anything (physically and emotionally) that is no longer serving you, so you can make space for the new.
Remember, if you give yourself the rest you need in this phase, you’ll set yourself up to thrive in the next stages.
Phase 2: Follicular Phase (days 7–13) – Creativity & Energy
At the start of the follicular phase, your oestrogen levels are still fairly low, but gradually begin to increase as your body prepares to release an egg.
Oestrogen helps boost your energy, your general mood, and your mind, too. So you should begin to feel more energised, inspired, and motivated during this phase.
Your libido will be stimulated, and you’ll begin to move the focus of your energy from inwards to outwards—meaning you’ll feel like being more connected to and social with other people.
Now is the time to plan out your month (or moon) ahead. Is there something you really want to get done, or pay more attention to? Is there anyone you’d like to see or spend time with? And is there anywhere you’d like to go or explore?
Connect to your intentions
Connect to the intentions (goals) you created in the previous phase. Allow these to guide you in this next phase, depending on what and where you feel most called to focus your energy. Set out some actionable steps you want to take to get you closer to your big vision.
This phase is the perfect time to begin a new project (at work, or at home). It’s also a great time to tackle any challenging tasks that require more inspiration, energy and motivation from you.
Make time for creativity
Your creative energy is at a high during this phase, so there’s no better time than now to be creative. Prioritise creativity in your life. Place value on it, because most of us don’t do this enough. Channel creativity into your days; whether you cook, paint, write, sing, make, draw, plant, bake, or sew.
Phase 3: Ovulatory Phase (days 14–16) – Communication & Expansion
This is the shortest phase in the menstrual cycle, lasting for just two to three days. The egg travels down the fallopian tube, and can result in pregnancy if fertilised.
Oestrogen and testosterone levels rise and peak, magnifying all the effects you felt during phase two. Summer has arrived, and you can expect to feel more confident, competitive, and bolder.
This is a time for expansion.
Be bold and daring
Now is the time to channel all your energy into something big and bold. Say yes to things you might usually turn down out of fear or discomfort. If you enjoy or want to try public speaking, now is the perfect window to do it.
This phase is all about communication and connection with others. Create space in your schedule to enjoy time with your partner, friends and family. And if you need to have important conversations with work colleagues, now is the time to do so.
Whether you go out, or you’re chilling at home, make play and fun a priority during this time. Laugh, be like a kid again, go for dinner with a friend, or enjoy a romantic weekend away with your partner.
Whatever makes you feel most alive and expanded—do more of those things. And leave the guilt behind you.
Phase 4: Luteal Phase (days 17–28) – Breathe & Completion
In phase four, your oestrogen levels will begin to fall again, while progesterone levels increase. This can last anywhere between 10 to 16 days.
In the second week, oestrogen levels will rise again in preparation for pregnancy. If there’s no pregnancy, then both oestrogen and progesterone will drop. And on cue, the uterine lining will start to shed.
Now is the time to start to slow down, plan, and prepare.
Because your hormones are fluctuating, you’re likely to go from feeling extroverted to more introverted in this phase. Go with it. Take care of yourself. Conserve your dwindling energy levels. Reflect.
Start to slow down
As we move out of Summer into Fall, now is the time to slow down. To create room in your schedule for you-time. So don’t be afraid to say no to things—at work and in your personal life.
You’re making the journey inwards again.
Is there anything you really want to complete before the next cycle begins? Use this as an opportunity to wrap any projects up that are ready to be completed. And don’t forget to celebrate as you look back at all you’ve accomplished.
Prepare for PMS
This phase is represented by the wild woman archetype— perhaps the most misunderstood archetype of all. Honour all that you’re feeling during this time. Don’t repress or hide or judge anything that arises. Step into the darkness, and confront it, because this is how you begin to heal.
Menstrual cycle planning: How to track your cycle
There are many menstrual cycle planning apps out there now that allow you to track your cycle, and get to know it intimately. I use Natural Cycles (which is also a natural contraception app).
Most of these apps allow you to keep a digital record of how you feel each day of your cycle. Your energy levels, how creative you are, how your skin looks and feels, if your body is craving anything etc.
After a few cycles, you’ll start to notice patterns, and understand how your unique cycle works. And that knowledge is potential power. Because when you understand your menstrual cycle, you can plan your life and schedule to work in harmony with it, instead of fighting against the natural rhythm of your body.
Are you tracking your cycle?
Have you recently started tracking your cycle? Have you noticed any patterns or insights? I’d love to hear from you, so please share all your thoughts and questions in the comments below.