Ever experienced that switch from tears to laughter and an undeniable rush of desire? That’s the magic of a woman’s menstrual cycle – it’s like Mother Nature’s own rollercoaster.
Then there are symptoms such as cramps, fatigue, mood swings, and bloating, which may hinder your daily routine.
Fortunately, there is a transformative approach named “Cycle Syncing” to get rid of these symptoms naturally. You can sync your lifestyle with the rhythm of your body through sustainable changes in diet, fitness, and self-care for each phase of your menstrual cycle. The result is that you reclaim a vibrant life.
In this article, I will walk you through cycle syncing, menstrual phases, and how to cycle sync in each menstrual phase.
What is Cycle Syncing?
As reported in this 2008 study, hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle play a significant role in various body responses. They can affect our appetite, energy levels, thoughts, cognitive function, emotional health, sleep and more.
Several women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, etc. A 2019 study linked the increased junk food intake and lack of exercise to PMS.
This is where cycle syncing plays a significant role. Cycle syncing is a method that aligns your exercise, nutrition, and overall lifestyle with the natural rhythm of your menstrual cycle. This process helps reduce menstrual symptoms and improve overall well-being.
Cycle syncing offers the following benefits:
- Balances hormone levels
- Reduces PMS symptoms, including mood swings, bloating, and cravings
- Reduces menstrual cramps
- Boosts energy level
- Improves sleep quality
- Treats infertility issues by increasing the chance of conceiving
- Maximises workout benefits
- Reduces the risk of work-out injury
Understanding the Menstrual Cycle
In order to experience the benefits of cycle syncing, it’s important to understand what happens in each phase of the menstrual cycle.
The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days and includes the following four phases:
- Menstrual Phase (1-5 days)
In this phase, the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) is shed, causing menstrual bleeding. Estrogen and progesterone levels hit their lowest, leading to cramping, bloating, and tiredness. For some, heavy and continuous bleeding may cause anemia, especially without adequate iron-rich food intake.
- Follicular Phase (6-13 days)
This phase is characterized by the development of eggs within the follicles inside the ovary. During this phase, follicle-stimulating hormone and estrogen levels rise gradually, leading to the thickening of the endometrium. Hence, women feel more energized and happier.
- Ovulation Phase (14-15 days)
During this phase, the secretion of luteinizing hormone triggers the release of a mature egg, which passes down the fallopian tube. This is the only time where conception is possible.
Estrogen levels peak and progesterone secretion also increases. These hormonal changes lead to an increase in body temperature, energy levels, improved mood, and a boost in libido.
- Luteal Phase (16-28 days)
The Luteal phase follows ovulation, with the follicle that releases the egg transforming into the corpus luteum. It secretes progesterone and some estrogen to prepare the uterus to receive a fertilized egg. If fertilization happens, the endometrium remains thick throughout the pregnancy. The corpus luteum shrinks and breaks down if the egg is not fertilized.
A significant rise in progesterone levels during the latter part of the luteal phase can cause symptoms like mood changes and breast tenderness. At the end of this phase, some may experience premenstrual symptoms, such as appetite changes, bloating, joint pain, acne, migraine or headache, fatigue, and insomnia.
Why is Cycle Syncing Highly Recommended?
A 2018 research study revealed that diet, physical activities, daily routine lifestyle, and mental stress directly or indirectly impact the menstrual cycle, thereby exacerbating the symptoms.
Hence, you should focus on streamlining these aspects by following a holistic approach in order to address menstrual cycle issues, regulate hormonal balance, and improve overall quality of life.
Cycle syncing encompasses a holistic approach, including the following components:
- Regular Exercise
Exercise triggers the release of endorphins (happy hormones) that may help reduce mood swings and boost energy levels. It also increases blood flow to help ease cramps and reduce or prevent clotting and symptoms related to poor circulation.
Exercise also helps reduce bloating and the risk of chronic conditions like insulin resistance and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which may cause menstrual irregularities.
A balanced, nutritious diet is a fundamental component of holistic menstrual health and hormonal balance.
- A diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially zinc, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, etc., can promote healthy hormone production and function
- An iron-rich diet can treat or prevent anemia caused by heavy menstrual flow
- As menstrual issues can affect bone density, calcium and vitamin D can promote strong and healthy bones
- A fiber-rich diet improves gut health and reduces bloating
- Incorporating lean proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates stabilizes blood sugar levels and manages hormonal disorders
- Adding anti-inflammatory foods like berries, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and turmeric helps alleviate menstrual symptoms
- Sex Life
While not a direct solution to menstrual issues, a healthy and satisfactory sex life is the key to overall health, including emotional wellness and stress reduction, indirectly benefiting menstrual health.
For instance, orgasms release endorphins, which help alleviate pain, muscle tension, and emotional stressors that may contribute to menstrual irregularities.
- Mental Wellness
A happy and healthy mind is closely linked with sound physical health, including menstrual health. Hence, maintaining a stable and positive mental state is crucial to alleviating menstrual symptoms.
Effective coping strategies like mindfulness, meditation, or socializing can manage the psychological and emotional aspects of menstrual health. They can also improve sleep quality, which is again important for menstrual well-being.
These holistic components work synergistically to improve menstrual well-being. Since cycle syncing focuses on a holistic approach to every phase of the menstrual cycle, it is highly recommended. You can experience more balanced hormones, reduced ill health symptoms, and an improved quality of life with this approach.
How to Cycle Sync Through Each Phase of the Menstrual Cycle?
Remember that every woman’s menstrual cycle experience is unique. Cycle syncing is a personalized approach to managing your menstrual cycle. You should start with tracking each phase of your menstrual cycle to implement it successfully.
- Listen to your body: With cycle syncing, you should become more accustomed to your physical, mental, and emotional needs. Hence, acknowledge the uniqueness of your body first. Make sure to pay attention to your intuition and give importance to self-awareness.
- List down your symptoms: Maintain a journal with a list of symptoms you experience throughout each phase. Keep track of this information for around 3 months. This will help you understand your unique menstrual pattern and change your routine accordingly.
- Build your own path: Finally, know your menstrual cycle phases to implement the cycle syncing process. To know the phases, note the first day of your period and check its duration without fail. This step will help you name the phase you are in on any given day.
Once you know your menstrual cycle phases, implement the right holistic approach (regular exercise, diet, sex life, and mental wellness) in every phase to see improvements in cycle duration and symptoms.
How to Cycle Sync Through the Menstrual Phase?
As your energy is low due to low estrogen levels, low-intensity activities or light movements are the best options. Walking, stretching, yin yoga, and pilates are good to go.
During this phase, cramping, fatigue, and irritability are common symptoms. Eating junk food, like pizza, chips, or sweets, can disturb hormonal balance and take away vital nutrients from you.
Here are nutrient-dense food options you must consume during the menstrual phase:
- Iron-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, and lean red meat to replenish iron lost during bleeding.
- Vitamin C foods like citrus fruits, berries, red peppers, and broccoli. They help improve the absorption of iron.
- Vitamin K foods like green leafy vegetables, natto, meat, eggs, and cheese These foods can significantly reduce heavy bleeding.
- Omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed, salmon, and tree nuts. Consuming them can help alleviate cramps and inflammation.
- Soothing teas like chamomile tea and soups to alleviate cramps.
- Add 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds every day to your diet. They are rich in phytoestrogens, which improves the ratio of estrogen metabolites to the favorable 2-hydroxyestrone (the protective estrogen) instead of the 16a- & 4-hydroxyestrone (associated with an increased risk of estrogen dominance disorders and some cancers such as breast cancer).
- Strictly say no to caffeine, alcohol, salty foods, and fatty foods.
Note: Eat every 3-4 hours to help manage mood swings.
- Mental wellness
It is important to prioritize self-care. Opt for breathing exercises, meditation, and journaling.
- Sex life
While some may find relief from menstrual cramps through orgasm, others may prefer rest and relaxation during their menstruation phase. Prioritize your comfort and preferences.
How to Cycle Sync Through the Follicular Phase?
As your energy levels increase in this phase, try cardio and strength-based workouts. It is important to note that some hormones, like testosterone, are still low, which can lead to low stamina. Hence, start with light cardio workouts and then slowly increase the intensity. Running, swimming, and group weight-bearing exercises are best.
As there is a rise in estrogen levels, it is important for the body to balance the increased estrogen levels. Incorporate foods that metabolize estrogen and support the detoxification of estrogen. These foods include:
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale
- Sprouted and fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi
- Leafy greens
- Healthy fats, such as avocado, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seed
- In addition, vitamin E-rich foods like nuts/seeds mix, leafy green vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil help nourish growing follicles.
- Mental wellness
During this phase, you will tend to be more optimistic and creative. Leverage this by engaging in activities like planning & brainstorming, socializing, and trying new things.
- Sex life
Initially, there could be a reduced sex drive. Try massaging and creative foreplay, then. However, as estrogen increases, so does the libido. Your chance of getting pregnant from unprotected sex also increases as you get closer to the ovulatory phase
How to Cycle Sync Through the Ovulation Phase?
Your energy levels are at a peak during this phase. This time is ideal for high-intensity workouts, such as spinning, kickboxing, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and boot camp.
Due to an increase in estrogen levels, the liver has to work harder to break down excess estrogen. Hence, eat foods that support your liver and balance high estrogen levels. Here are some excellent choices:
- Antioxidant foods like whole fruits, vegetables, and almonds. They provide incredible health benefits, such as anti-aging properties and protection from environmental toxins.
- Water and fiber to reduce fluid retention
- Foods rich in vitamins B and D, such as eggs, tomato, leafy green vegetables, fruits (citrus fruits, berry, papaya), quinoa, kale, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, wholegrain (rice, pasta, bread), almonds, and chia seeds
- Mental wellness
As you are at your peak mindset, you will feel confident and attractive. So, indulge in activities such as socializing, planning, preparation, collaboration, and public speaking.
- Sex life
Since estrogen level peaks, you will experience a peak in sex drive. The chance of conception is high in this phase.
How to Cycle Sync Through the Luteal Phase?
The beginning of this phase indicates that your body is preparing for the next period cycle. Energy levels can be low compared to the ovulation phase. Medium- to low-cardio workouts and strength training are ideal exercises to try. If your energy levels fall to a great extent, you can opt for yoga, pilates, and walking.
During the luteal phase, estrogen and testosterone levels initially surge and then wane. It brings PMS, hunger, and cravings. Also, you become less insulin-sensitive in this phase.
The following are the ideal food choices to add to your diet:
- Foods supporting progesterone production for healthy growth of uterine lining. These foods are wild-caught salmon, nuts, seeds, and oats
- Magnesium-dense foods, like spinach, dark chocolate, legumes, avocados, bananas, raspberries, salmon, and tuna. They help alleviate PMS.
- Vitamin B6-rich foods like tuna, salmon, beef liver, chickpea, and green leafy vegetables help boost progesterone
- One tablespoon of each sunflower seeds and tahini are high in lignans. Lignans help increase progesterone levels and flush out excess estrogen.
- Fiber-rich veggies to promote the feeling of fullness (satiety)
As you crave more and your hunger level rises, I recommend you choose a healthy, comforting meal to keep you full for a long time.
Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol, red meat, dairy, salt, and artificial sweeteners.
- Mental wellness
Fatigue and anxiety may make you less sociable. So, this phase can be the best time for planning, project preparation, and self-analysis.
- Sex life
The sex drive may start to wane. You need more stimulation to climax. Try out sex toys or new stimulation techniques.
Cycle Syncing – Overview
|Factors||Phases of Menstrual Cycle|
|Exercise||Low-intensity activities like walking, stretching, yin yoga, pilates||Cardio and strength-based exercises (Running, swimming, and group weight-bearing exercises)||High-intensity workouts like spinning, kickboxing, HIIT, boot camp||Medium-to-low cardio workouts, strength training, yoga, pilates, walking|
|Nutrition||Iron-rich foods, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Omega-3 fatty acids, soothing teas, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds||Cruciferous vegetables, sprouted and fermented foods, leafy greens, healthy fats, vitamin-E-rich foods||Antioxidant foods, water, and fiber, vitamins B and D||Magnesium-dense foods, sunflower seeds, tahini, fiber-rich veggies, vitamin B-rich foods, foods supporting progesterone production (wild-caught salmon, nuts, seeds, and oats)|
|Mental wellness||Breathing exercises, meditation, journaling||Optimistic and creative||Confident and attractive||Fatigue and anxiety|
|Sex life||Listen to your body and prioritize comfort||Reduced sex drive. Creative foreplay is the key.||High sex drive, increased chance of conception||Decreased sex drive, more stimulation needed|
How Long Does it Take to Experience the Effects of Cycle Syncing?
Everyone has different menstrual cycle patterns. It is difficult to determine how long it will take to experience the real effects of cycle syncing. However, on average, it takes at least 3 months.
Who Can Benefit from Cycle Syncing?
Although cycle syncing proves effective for everyone, certain groups may comparatively benefit more. A 2016 study reported that females aged 25 to 46 may benefit the most from cycle syncing.
Cycle syncing is beneficial for women who experience the following severe hormone conditions:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Irregular periods
- Thyroid problems
Additionally, women who are overweight, experience excessive fatigue, have a desire to restore their libido, or are looking to conceive may also benefit.
Hence, if you don’t feel good, especially during your periods, consider cycle syncing.
A Functional Medicine Approach to Cycle Syncing
Are you keen to determine the root cause behind your symptoms of ill hormonal health and menstrual issues? Despite implementing cycle syncing, are you now looking for a personalized program to improve your well-being? If so, it’s time to take the next step towards a more harmonious menstrual cycle and vibrant health.
Get in touch with a functional medicine expert who can assess your hormonal patterns throughout the menstrual cycle. The DUTCH test helps examine hormonal patterns and characterize each menstrual cycle phase.
After identifying the root cause of hormonal imbalance, a functional medicine expert helps personalize your cycle-syncing approach. They work with you to identify and address the underlying issues, permanently eliminating your symptoms. The result is improved overall hormonal health, especially for those who deal with menstrual issues and poor hormonal health.
This may involve implementing nutrition, lifestyle adjustments, or supplemental strategies to restore balance in your system as per your unique needs.
In our busy lives, we often overlook our symptoms of fatigue, mood swings, and cramps, missing out on the opportunity to align our lifestyle with our body’s natural rhythms. Cycle syncing offers a way to live more harmoniously and offers your body the holistic care and attention it deserves.
The result? Optimal hormonal health to experience your best and most vibrant self on all days.