Portrait of a funny young African American girl in hiding behind a menstrual periods calendar and looking away at copy space isolated over pink background. Female Period calendar

How To Start Cycle Syncing To Optimize Your Hormone Health

Cycle syncing is a practice that more and more women are learning to perfect to help better align their overall health and wellness with their menstrual cycle. It’s common knowledge that women have periods once a month, but the other phases that happen throughout our menstrual cycles aren’t as commonly talked about. Learning to be mindful of our bodies throughout all of the phases of our menstrual cycle can help us to naturally balance our hormones and meet our body’s overall needs.

What Are The Phases Of The Menstrual Cycle?

The purpose of the menstrual cycle is to prepare your body for possible pregnancy. The entire menstrual cycle normally lasts anywhere from 21 to 35 days and can vary widely from woman to woman. A cycle begins on the first day of your period and starts over again when your next period begins.
There are four phases of the menstrual cycle: menstruation, follicular, ovulation, and luteal. With each of these phases we experience different fluctuations in hormones that affect how we feel every day in our moods and energy levels. Our bodies have different needs through each of these cycles that can be met with certain nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle habits.
Menstruation Phase
This phase marks the beginning of the menstrual cycle when you get your period and typically lasts anywhere from 2 to 7 days. During menstruation your body signals that you are not pregnant and sheds the lining of your uterus.
Follicular Phase
This phase is the longest phase in the menstrual cycle lasting anywhere from 14 to 21 days depending on your cycle. It begins at the same time as menstruation (on the first day of your period) and lasts until ovulation. During this phase an egg matures in your ovaries.
Ovulation Phase

This phase occurs in the middle of your menstrual cycle and lasts for the shortest amount of time, between 12-24 hours. This is considered your “fertile window” and is the time that you are most likely to get pregnant throughout your cycle. During this phase an egg is released from your ovary to your fallopian tubes and waits to be fertilized.

Luteal Phase

This is the final stage in the menstrual cycle lasting anywhere from 12-14 days. During this phase the lining of your uterus thickens to prepare for a possible pregnancy. If the egg does not become fertilized, your body will prepare to start your cycle over again.

How Do You Start Cycle Syncing?

The goal of cycle syncing is to support your body’s hormonal needs throughout each phase of your cycle in order to balance your hormones and make your entire cycle easier to manage. Throughout each phase, your body is facing hormone fluctuations that can make you feel all over the place during different times of the month. Instead of letting your hormones dictate how you feel, you can learn to structure your lifestyle around them to better support them and feel your best.
There are four hormones that work together to regulate our menstrual cycle: estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). As these hormones fluctuate throughout your cycle, they essentially control how your body will feel.

To start cycle syncing, you’ll want to start tracking your menstrual cycle if you aren’t already.  There are great apps out there for this, or you can even track it on your own using a calendar. Either way, you’ll want to start tuning in to your body and paying close attention to how things like energy levels, mood, and appetite fluctuate throughout the month.

How To Best Support Your Body During The First Half Of Your Cycle

During the first phase (menstruation), your hormone levels are at their lowest. As you already may know, during this phase you will have low energy levels, mood swings, cramping, headaches and all of the other typical experiences that come with your period.
You can best support your body in this phase with light activities and rest. If you exercise, it’s best to take it easy with light workouts like yoga, pilates or walking. For your nutrition during this time, focus on warming, nourishing foods like soups, stews, cooked vegetables, fatty meats and anti-inflammatory herbs and spices.
During the second phase (follicular), your hormones begin to rise along with your energy levels. This is typically when you will feel your strongest. Take advantage of how you’re feeling during this phase to complete more strenuous tasks or intense exercise.
Your body is best supported during this phase with more intense exercise and a nutritional focus around healthy fats and cruciferous vegetables. For vegetables this can include things like broccoli, spinach, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Healthy fats can include things like salmon, nuts, avocado and eggs.

How To Best Support Your Body During The Second Half Of Your Cycle

During the third phase (ovulation), your hormone levels peak along with your libido, leaving you feeling frisky and outgoing. Take advantage of how you’re feeling during this time because it’s a short phase and your energy levels will start dropping as you transition into the luteal phase. It’s common that you experience fluid retention, bloating or constipation.
To best support your body during this phase, you can focus on pushing yourself a bit more in your exercise routine and drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. For nutrition, focus on fiber-rich foods and antioxidant-rich fruits, keep carbs light and avoid excess salt. Great foods to eat during this phase are things like quinoa, nuts, seeds, fresh vegetables, raspberries, coconut and guava.
In your final phase (luteal), the hormone progesterone dominates and rises, which means PMS symptoms will begin to make an appearance. You will slowly have less energy and a higher appetite. You may start to experience food cravings and mood swings.

Throughout this phase you want to start listening to how your body is feeling and slowing down on your exercise intensity. If you feel tired, don’t push yourself too much and if you’re craving comfort foods, let yourself indulge! Focus on nutrient-dense, nourishing foods that will stabilize your body like bone broth, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, red meat, carrots and lentils.

Final Thoughts

As a woman, cycle syncing might just be the ultimate form of self-care, especially if you struggle with hormonal imbalances. Having a better understanding of how your hormone levels change throughout your menstrual cycle can help you learn to adjust your routine around them in order to live the best life possible. Cycle syncing is really all about listening to your body and giving it what it needs at the right times.