How understanding your menstrual cycle can become your superpower!

Do you wake up some days feeling fully of creativity and energy ready to get stuck into your to do list? Other days you just can’t be bothered. You have time but just can’t seem to find the motivation to get going?

You’ll have your own list of excuses:

  • perhaps you haven’t exercised as much this week,
  • or you’ve exercised too much,
  • maybe you had more sugary snacks yesterday,
  • perhaps you didn’t sleep as soundly.
  • Or maybe you just can’t think of a reason.

Have you considered your menstrual cycle and how your feelings might change at different stages in your cycle? I don’t just mean raging and eating your own body weight in chocolate a few days before your period is due. This has been normalised but actually we shouldn’t expect to feel this way, and if your hormones are well balanced those feelings should not be significant.

Male hormones work on a 24 hour cycle. They have higher levels of testosterone in the morning and, therefore, more energy. This decreases throughout the day so they will be less alert and have less energy later.

Female hormones follow a monthly cycle so we won’t follow the same pattern of energy levels and feelings every day. You can think of the menstrual cycle as different seasons. In spring you’ll be more ready to try new things or be happy to be around people more of the time. In contrast, during the winter phase you’ll want to eat more energy dense food and stay at home in cosy hibernation.

Your hormones change the way your brain works. If you have a menstrual cycle your hormones change levels at different times of day and different times of the month, so you really shouldn’t expect to feel the same way every day.

If you’d like to know more about this I highly recommend listening to the podcast “28ish days later”. It’s a BBC sounds programme but you can find it in all the usual places. I thought I knew quite a lot about the menstrual cycle but I still learnt more listening to this. However, it’s also clearly explained and not fully of medical or scientific jargon.

There is an episode for each day of the menstrual cycle so the best way to listen is in sync with your cycle, one episode a day, but that’s not essential. Each episode is only around 20 minutes long. I’d recommend it to your teenage children as well. The earlier they learn to understand what is happening in their bodies the better!

If you learn how your body responds to your cycle you can start to plan your life around it. You will know when you can push for your physical best and when you are most likely to be successful with strategising or other creative things at work or home. When we learn to work with our bodies instead of against them life feels easier.

If you don’t have periods maybe you will be more sympathetic to those around you who do might sometimes act differently or unexpectedly. Don’t “blame their hormones” but simply allow them to feel differently and different times. Our emotions are there to try to tell us something and suppressing them often causes more pain or suffering later on.

In clinic I will always ask about periods, if you have them now or ever have. I want to know if they are regular, how long the cycle is if they are painful, what kind of pain you get, when you get the pain, what the bleeding is like – light, heavy, dark, bright, clotted. We’ll talk about this because it’s a great window into how well balanced your body is and how much it is struggling. We work to improve any symptoms so that your menstrual cycle is more balanced and any variations you get from week to week will become more predicatable and less challenging.

I hear from patients every week who find their menstrual cycle dominates their life. They feel bloated and uncomfortable for weeks on end, they feel depressed and even suicidal for 10 days every month, they are in regular pain or they have such heavy periods they can need to change their sanitary wear every hour. None of this is normal or acceptable and you shouldn’t tolerate feeling like this regularly. In treatment, even if your periods aren’t problematic, I will always take your menstrual cycle into consideration and sometimes we’ll time treatments to be at the most appropriate stage of the cycle to get the biggest benefits.

It’s up to you how much or how little you change your lifestyle to suit your hormones. I help patients to understand the changes their body is going through each week and work with their bodies rather than against them. I personally notice if I’ve made unsatisfactory self care choices (more sugar, more caffeine, less sleep, more stress!) I have more symptoms of PMT that month (pain, headaches, chocolate cravings). I use it as a reminder to look after myself better next month!

I’ve been specialising in the treatment of stress and anxiety for 19 years. If you have periods my treatments will always work to regulate your hormones and reduce the impact of changes throughout your cycle. I love helping people to improve their quality of life through better understanding of how their minds and their bodies work with and against each other. We achieve this with regular acupuncture and simple lifestyle advice. If you would like to be my next new patient please follow the link to book a free 20 minute consultation now.

July 12, 2023