Superboost your cycle

Take control of your period to feel at your best all month long

Superboost your cycle

by Bianca Castro |

Some days you feel energised and productive, others you can barely drag yourself out of bed.

Sound familiar? For many women, hormones play the biggest role in how we feel.

But according to leading gynaecologist Dr Ellie Rayner, this doesn’t have to be a problem — you can take advantage of your fluctuating hormone levels to make your period work for you.

Here, she explains the phases or ‘seasons’ of the menstrual cycle, so you can tune into your body and work out what it needs and when — enabling you to feel your best all month long.

WINTER: Menstrual phase (days 1-7)

This is the first day of your period. Your oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest as your uterus sheds its lining, meaning that you’re likely to be low on energy during this time.

Dr Ellie Rayner says: ‘Prevent burning out by slowing down. Like a hibernating animal, you should keep warm, rest and recharge your batteries. You might find yourself being easily annoyed by others, so in the evenings try to make time for yourself. Enjoy a relaxing bath, read a book or do some gentle exercise, such as yoga. Being easier on yourself and taking stock will mean you’re better able to pick up the pace the following week.’

SPRING: Proliferative phase (days 8 -13)

Your oestrogen levels are rising steadily throughout this week, causing the lining of your uterus to regrow as your ovary prepares to release an egg.

Dr Ellie Rayner says: ‘Everything should be feeling easier by the day, so it’s a good time to be productive — get creative, start planning, and tackle new challenges. Your memory and concentration will improve, and higher oestrogen levels make you feel confident and motivated, so now is the time to say yes to everything! Do activities with the kids, apply for that job, or join in with a Zoom call you didn’t fancy during the winter phase.’

SUMMER: Ovulatory phase (days 14-21)

As oestrogen reaches its peak in the cycle, ovulation is triggered. An egg is released from your ovary and into the Fallopian tube. Testosterone levels also peak just before ovulation, and straight afterwards both oestrogen and testosterone levels fall rapidly, to be replaced with rising progesterone levels.

Dr Ellie Rayner says: ‘It’s summertime, and just before ovulation is your greatest time to shine. Right before your egg is released, you should be at your most energetic, sociable, confident and feminine.

‘Not only that, but your testosterone levels might cause you to feel more impulsive and daring, meaning you’ll feel you can do just about anything! You could nurture relationships, run around with the children or lead the way at work.

‘Your libido will also be at its highest just before ovulation, and due to increased endorphins, your pain threshold will also be higher — so if you’re planning on having a bikini wax, now is the best time to do it.’

AUTUMN: Luteal phase (days 22-28)

Progesterone levels continue to increase throughout the second half of your cycle and are highest while the body prepares the lining of the uterus, in case of fertilisation.

Dr Ellie Rayner says: ‘Just like autumn and its changeable weather, your mood might be very up and down, and you might be feeling self-critical and sensitive. Progesterone can also make you feel quite subdued, so this fourth week is the perfect time to get things done at home.

‘If you’re able to, plan a day or two off work. Taking on organisational tasks can feel rewarding and it’s a good time to make important decisions.

‘You may find your appetite is bigger and you crave comfort foods and familiarity. As you approach the end of the week, start to slow down a little and prepare for the cycle to begin again. We often ignore what our body is telling us, so try to acknowledge its needs and most importantly, be kind to yourself.’

Don’t worry if your seasons alter from this framework. Every woman is unique, and some may have longer or shorter phases. Tracking your cycle is key to a greater understanding.

Dr Ellie Rayner can be found on Instagram @maternitymedic

Edited by Julia Sidwell

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