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Cycle Syncing: The Follicular Phase

menstrual cycle Apr 11, 2023
For the entire month of April, we’re diving deep into each phase of the Menstrual Cycle. With each phase, I’ll cover how to sync your life with your cycle to have healthier hormones and easier periods!

For the entire month of April, we’re diving deep into each phase of the Menstrual Cycle. With each phase, I’ll cover how to sync your life with your cycle to have healthier hormones and easier periods!

This week I’m talking all about the Follicular Phase. If you missed last week, click here to read all about the Menstrual Phase, the first phase of your cycle!


What’s going on during this phase:

The Follicular Phase technically overlaps with the Menstrual Phase, starting with the first day of your period. For the sake of cycle syncing though, we will consider the start of the Follicular Phase as the day you stop bleeding going up until ovulation.

During this phase, Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is made in the brain, triggering eggs in the ovary to develop and mature. As a result, the ovaries begin to create more estrogen. The rise in estrogen then triggers the endometrial lining to thicken. The endometrial lining is the tissue lining the uterus. This is important for pregnancy because this lining needs to be thick enough for an embryo to implant.

Once estrogen is high enough, it signals to the brain that an egg is mature and can now be released. The brain then creates a hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH). It is created quickly and this spike triggers the ovary to release an egg. ‌


What do be aware of:

If you have PCOS, sometimes the ovaries don't respond to LH. As a result, the brain makes more LH. This increased production of LH is as if the brain is yelling at the ovaries to begin ovulation.

LH is often tested in women with PCOS or fertility issues. When it is high, this can be a reflection of why you are not ovulating or having regular cycles.

LH is also the hormone that is tested with ovulation kits.

When testing FSH and LH it is important to note that they should be tested on day 3 of your cycle. Ideally, FSH and LH will be around the same number. If LH comes back much higher than FSH that is an indicator that you are not ovulating and may be dealing with PCOS.



During the Follicular Phase, you want to focus on foods that support estrogen levels, especially if you deal with PMS or painful and heavy periods.

Remember estrogen is rising during this phase, which is good for the endometrial lining. However, things like processed foods, alcohol, stress, and exposure to chemical estrogens in many of our beauty and cleaning products can cause our bodies to have an excess of estrogen.

It is important that we are not making too much estrogen, on top of the estrogen we are being exposed to.

To better control estrogen during the Follicular Phase, consider the following foods:

1.High-fiber foods such as beans, prunes, apples, and berries

High-fiber foods help your body eliminate excess estrogen through your stools.

2. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, and mustard greens.

These foods help to break down excess estrogen. Cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called dim, which helps to make sure estrogen is broken down a safe pathway.

Remember if you have thyroid disorders, it’s important that you are cooking these vegetables!


Seed Cycling:

Seeds can be a powerful tool in helping to regulate your hormones throughout your cycle. To learn more about what seed cycling is, how to do it, and why it helps your hormones listen to Heal Your Hormones Podcast 60: Seed Cycling with Funk It Wellness Founder Kate Morton!

During the Follicular Phase, consider eating the following seeds:

  1. Flax Seeds

  2. Pumpkin Seeds

You may notice, these are the same seeds recommended during the Menstrual Phase. Flax and pumpkin seeds are helpful during the first two weeks of the Menstrual Cycle.

I recommend 1 tablespoon each day (you could alternate seeds each day). If you struggle with constipation or don’t currently eat a diet with much fiber, I would suggest starting with half a tablespoon and working your way up to 1 tablespoon, allowing your digestive system time to adjust.

Add the seeds to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, or energy bites.

Keep in mind it takes 3-4 months to see a shift in your PMS symptoms. Be consistent and patient with seed cycling in order to allow time for your hormones to change.



Because supplements are so bio-individual, I will not be discussing supplements too much in this series.

However, fish oil during the Follicular Phase can help your body make hormones, if you are low.

Fish oil helps to lower inflammation in the body, helping to relieve painful periods. It can also improve mood during PMS.

Because fish oil supplements can be contaminated with heavy metals, it is vital to get a high-quality fish oil supplement. If you aren’t confident that your fish oil is sourced well, it is better for you to not take it. Check out my full script site to find a quality fish oil supplement!



As you move through the Follicular Phase and closer toward ovulation, hormones are rising as well as energy levels. You can use this to your advantage when thinking about exercise.

This is the time in your cycle to pick up the intensity of exercise if that’s what you prefer. If you’ve been around long, you may know that cardio and HITT-style workouts are not my preference when it comes to the health of your hormones.

Strength training, hot yoga, boxing, higher-intensity pilates, and longer hikes are great options during this phase!

Listen to your body and pay attention to when your energy starts to rise and adjust your workouts as needed.

With the increase in energy, this is the time to commit to more social activities or to consider bigger projects at work, as creativity and productivity are higher during this phase.

During the Follicular Phase, with estrogen on the rise, you may feel more confident and experience a higher libido. This is gearing your body up for the ovulatory phase. Head back next week to learn about the next phase: the Ovulatory Phase!

If you are interested in learning more about the Follicular Phase, check out episode 64 on the Heal Your Hormones Podcast: Cycle Syncing: The Follicular Phase

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