For years I experienced horrible symptoms from PMS and PMDD, stemming from a menstrual cycle that was off-kilter due to a few hormonal problems and serious health issues.
I would experience crippling pain all over my abdomen and lower back, develop acne that took over my face, and repeatedly throw up the pain was so bad. After getting my period in middle school, I went to a doctor because the symptoms were making life for an eighth-grader pretty impossible.
About a year later, they put me on a birth control pill. Six months later, they put me on a more intense formula that made it so I would only get my period every three months. Then a year later they moved me to a pill that made me only get my period once a year.
At first, this was enticing. You’re telling me I only have to deal with this once a year? Amazing. About six months into it I decided to do some research and realized just how damaged my body was going to become from birth control. I could rant for hours on how this doctor should be in some way or another held accountable for prescribing that dose to a sixteen-year-old, but I’ll save that for another day. 😉
Today, I’m going to pull myself out of the situation and talk about cycle syncing, a method that helped me balance my hormones and in all honesty, get my life back.
Menstrual Cycle and Hormonal Imbalance
During the week leading up to your period, you might experience PMS/PMDD, this is because our bodies are preparing for menstruation.
You might experience headaches, mood changes, cramps, or even nausea, the underlying reason for these changes is our menstrual cycle. Something to remember that our ‘cycle’ is not exclusive to the days we have our period since it continues trough the whole month or the average of 28 days.
We also must note that every phase of this cycle has a factor that plays into fertility, physical, and emotional wellbeing so it’s important to give your hormones the attention they need.
The easiest explanation as to why we feel a certain way throughout our menstrual phases is because of our fluctuating hormone levels. As you may know, hormones act as ‘messengers’ so if they’re shifting, our body’s reaction changes as well.
The good news? We can track these and alter our lifestyles to accommodate our cycle and help aid our bodies in what they are experiencing.
What Cycle Syncing Is and What it Does
Although these hormonal fluctuations are normal, it does not mean we can’t do anything about them. We don’t need to suffer from these changes all throughout our cycles.
One doctor I really look up to is Alisa Vitti. She spent 15 years studying all about the menstrual cycle after she was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).
She coined a method called ‘cycle syncing’ which helps you sort of hack your cycle (amazing), but it is a method that women have been using for ages. It teaches you what to do and when to do it best so you can feel empowered throughout the month.
It helps you cope with the ever-changing phases happening in your body by taking the right steps, eating the right kinds of food.
How to Implement “Cycle-Syncing” Methods in Your Own Life
I’ll share a few tips on how to implement this method in an easy way! Aide from lifestyle suggestions, there are a few plant-based products and herbs that I highly recommended taking to ease the discomfort caused by hormonal imbalance. They’ve revolutionized my symptoms and helped me heal what used to be terribly broken.
So, how do you start this method? Well, first you must be familiar with the phases of your cycle which you can do by tracking your period. If you’re like me, it sometimes is difficult to do this manually because I keep on forgetting to write it down on my calendar!
Personally, I don’t like any of the tracking apps because I don’t think they are done very well. If you are late on a period or skip one it throws everything off. So I just stick to keeping track of it in my own notebook.
That said, if you want to use an app, the most recommended period tracking apps are Clue, Period Calendar, and Free Period Tracker.
4 Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle
The first phase starts on the first day of your period and ends when the bleeding stops. During this phase, shedding happens in the lining of your uterus. Cramping occurs because you are losing iron and blood. Since hormones are in low level in the beginning, you feel tiredness accompanied by irritability and mood swings.
Since we’re losing iron, it is best to reward our body by taking iron supplements, you may want to add beef, poultry, and fish to you diet.
Also, since we’re losing hydration because of all the bleeding, drink more water than you would for the rest of your phase. Two or more liters of water can help make you feel better. Stay away from caffeinated teas and switch to kombucha instead.
Tip: Use herbs like ginger, turmeric, and cardamom to ease discomfort.
This occurs from the start of the period until ovulation. In this phase, ovaries prepare an egg to be released through brain signals. The level of your hormones and testosterone are high so you feel energized and confident.
Make the most out of this phase. Use your energy to hit the gym or work out at home. To better support your body, its best to intake foods that are packed with vitamins such as eggs, beef fish and other dairy products. Remember to stay hydrated because you’ll probably sweat a lot.
Tip: Blueberries, parsley, chia seeds, and banana are perfect partners during this phase.
This phase occurs when your ovary releases a mature egg. The egg then goes through the fallopian tube to the uterus. Symptoms of this phase are rise in body temperature and thicker discharge.
Your estrogen level is at a peak in this stage as well as your testosterone level. This means your body is naturally preparing for pregnancy, so you feel kind of flirty! Take the opportunity of this stage and have fun because you won’t feel the same in the next stage.
Progesterone will be at peak right after ovulation, which can make you feel the opposite. You might feel a bit more introverted and shyer than normal. To feel better, take some rest and try to pamper yourself. Step away from salty foods to avoid bloating.
Tip: Grapefruit, berries, and maca are recommended to intake to feel better.
Luteal Phase is when the follicle left from the egg is attached to the ovary. The follicle then turns to corpus luteum for the next two weeks. In this phase, your body starts to release progesterone and estrogen. The first half of this phase makes you feel pretty normal but once the egg is not fertilized, PMS takes place.
Your body might crave for high carb and fatty foods and it’s okay to go in once in a while. Remember to listen to your body, and at this phase it’s telling you that your period will start soon. It is still best to go for iron rich foods. Remember to stay hydrated to prepare for the menstruation phase.
Tip: Arugula, raspberry, and dark chocolate are perfect for this phase.
Being a woman can be hard. We honestly don’t get the credit we deserve with what we have to go through each month. I remember when I was explaining my period cycle to my boyfriend he was like “wow I can’t believe you go through all of that and then have to go through it again every single month.”
I was like, yes, thank you for recognizing that haha.
I wish I had taken control of my hormone hack years ago. Learning how to hack my hormones has saved me from pain, depression, and a lot of tears.
I know this is a long one, so kudos to you if you made it to the end. Also please check out “9 Herbs to Help Balance and Regulate Your Hormones Naturally” and “PMS Versus PMDD: Similarities, Differences, and Natural Healing Methods.”