How to Use Your Menstrual Cycle to Optimise Your Life
When we think of our menstrual cycle, it’s easy to focus purely on the negatives: the PMS, the breakouts, the cramps, the lethargy and the sore boobs (I could go on). But these things are all associated with only one specific phase of our menstrual cycle. Obstetrician and gynaecologist Rebecca Booth, M.D., who is also the co-founder behind hormonal skincare brand Veneffect, believes that rather than thinking of your cycle as a hindrance, learning to understand its effects on body and mind can help you reap the rewards – and power up to your best self.
OK, so this is the annoying bit. Your period is here, you’re feeling bloated, tired – maybe you have cramps, nausea and want to sleep all day. Our hormones (oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone) are at their lowest right now, leaving us feeling drained and wanting to live a quiet life. So, where possible, give in to it. Write things down, make fewer social plans and generally enjoy a little time for introspection. However, pay close attention at around day 3-4 of your cycle and you may notice you’re feeling a little sparkier, as oestrogen and testosterone start to rise again. If you have the energy, use it. Start doing a little life admin, meal prep for the next week and get ready for next week, where the real magic starts to happen…
This is THE week to get s*** done. Rebecca Booth calls this The Venus Week because it can, quite literally, make you feel like a goddess. At around day 7-10 of your cycle, most women notice that they feel more confident, more creative, have a higher libido and feel more attractive – amongst other great things. That’s because, as we approach our most fertile time of the month, our highest oestrogen and testosterone levels are supercharging us with vitality. Use this time to your advantage; now is the time for projects and plans. Power through your to-do list, speak up in meetings and schedule in that interview. Likewise, our bodies can deal with more strenuous exercise, so try a new yoga pose or book in that extra gym class. We are feeling more sociable right now and our libido is higher. We are even more attractive (and our clothes seem to fit better)! This is the time of the month you’re likely to have a string of good-skin and good-hair days. So, make the most of it: go on that date while you’re feeling at your absolute best (rest assured, they’ll notice). Look out for days 13-16 especially, where ovulation has you at your most confident. As we like to say, competence equals confidence – and we’re all about that. So, go forth and conquer.
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who isn’t affected by their monthly dose of PMS, or even PMDD, you’ll more than likely notice that you’re feeling less than perky at this time of the month. The concoction of hormones in our body shifts and surges pretty much as soon as ovulation occurs, with a resulting mix high in progesterone which leads us to feel sluggish, tired and unfocused. Our clothes somehow seem to stop fitting so well, our creativity, energy and general feeling of having the world at our fingertips wanes, and we’re less inclined to initiate sex. We often think of our period as the time to pamper ourselves, but actually it’s the 7-10 days prior to it that we are at our most vulnerable. At this time of the month, remind yourself that you might be more sensitive to criticism. Your mood will often take a dip, too. Be patient and don’t be hard on yourself – it will pass. Now is the time to hunker down, binge-watch that Netflix series and make sure there’s a tub of Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer.
While everyone’s cycle is different, ranging from around 28 days (the average) to 35 days in length, keeping a diary is a great way to check into your own rhythm. Note down how you feel each day, and then look for patterns once you have a few months logged. It’s also worth noting that women who are on hormonal birth control will find these phases are not as pronounced – especially when your choice of contraception suppresses ovulation – therefore dampening down its effects on the body each month. However, you may in fact still have a muted Venus Week you can tap into – it may just take a little more patience and hard work to notice. Get to know how your unique cycle works and it’s amazing how you’ll start noticing the impact it has on you each month.