Know thyself – The female cycle
Periods are a normal part of life for about a third of the population. Even knowing this, they are still a pretty taboo subject, and there are still a lot of old wives’ tales out there and general nonsense pretending to be biological science – just think back to what we were taught at school. Let’s face it was generally poorly taught and without the context of why knowing this really matters.
Understanding your cycle?
The menstrual cycle begins from around the age of 10 upwards, with our periods or menstruation starting at about age 12. This cycle continues up until around the age of 45-50 when menopause usually begins.
The length of the menstrual cycle varies for each of us; historically we’ve always been taught the average is 28 days. This is the one time when averages can be really unhelpful and is based on 1930’s medicine (yes, really)! How many of you have been believing that there is something a bit amiss with your menstrual health as your cycle wasn’t 28 days!!!! A normal cycle can be anything from 21 to 40 days. Your cycle length can change as your move through life.
There are loads of images out there about menstrual cycles, ranging from those very classic and boring ones we all saw at school, to the slightly more quirky – we’ll come to this later, but for now, here are a couple of classics for you.
The menstruation phase starts on the first day of your period – this is day one of your cycle. When you bleed, your oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest, which can sap your body of energy; typically this is when you need more sleep and rest. If this was a season, it would be winter, yep, it’s all about going inward and hibernating, taking care, and not to over-commit yourself. Studies have shown that during this phase, your body needs more sleep and we should nurture ourselves with radical rest and self-care.
This phase starts when your period ends. Your oestrogen levels will rise causing the lining of the uterus to build up as the uterus prepares to release an egg and possible pregnancy. At the same time, your body starts producing serotonin – the feel-good hormone. Because of this, you are likely to be in a better mood, feel less discomfort and have more energy. This is your own personal spring; a higher level of oestrogen will see you get the most gains from strength and endurance training as well as recovering quicker.
This is the phase when your body releases an egg for fertilization. Depending on your cycle, at around 12-14 days the oestrogen levels reach their peak and cause Luteinising Hormone (LH) to be released. This surge in LH causes ovulation. This is your summer; you’re full of energy and ready to be super social as your oestrogen levels start to peak. This is the time to go and deliver that big pitch or killer presentation.
The luteal phase is when you are due on your period and may experience signs of PMS, maybe you say hello to mood swing central and indecision, just like the weather changes of autumn, you may not feel particularly sociable. Your energy levels may start to lower as your body releases oestrogen and large amounts of progesterone to get your body ready for a fertilized egg. If there isn’t a fertilized egg, those hormone levels drop.
Why talk about your cycle in clinic?
Understanding your menstrual cycle can help you to understand to ebb and flow of your hormones and how they affect your body, mood and performance – it all provides great information about your health. Having a regular menstrual cycle is essential for you to have happy and harmonious hormones.
Knowing your cycle helps you prepare for each phase of your cycle, manage your periods, and ultimately be your own BFF.
How can working together help my cycle and me?
Working together, I can help you understand how to restore the delicate balance of hormones, supporting you with a combination of nutritional advice, supplementation, and effective stress management tools & techniques to result in significant changes.
A bit about me & my background
Claire is a Health, Wellbeing and Rehabilitation Specialist at Restoring Balance; a sports scientist and coach who is also a multi-disciplined therapist specialising in person-centred care. Claire’s work is very different to many therapists – working with you as a whole person using a unique combination of mind, nutrition and movement to overcome both physical and emotional blocks; not just where you feel pain or have dysfunction, allowing you to live life again. Claire can help you with:
- Balancing your hormones
- Understanding your cycle and how to work with it and not it against it
- Peri-menopause and menopause coaching
- Improving your pelvic floor function
- Calming your stress & anxiety
- Improving your digestive health
- Changing your mindset and emotional health
- Relieving pain
- Increasing mobility, balance, stability, co-ordination
- Post-operative rehabilitation
- Post-operative scar care
I work both online and in person from my home-based clinic on Hayling Island, Hampshire.