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Cycle Syncing: The Menstrual Phase

menstrual cycle Apr 11, 2023
I’ll be discussing what is actually going on in your body during each phase of your menstrual cycle. How you can expect to feel, what is normal and what’s not, and finally small habits with diet and lifestyle/exercise that you can incorporate in each phase to support your hormones.

April is my birthday month and I’m doing a special series to celebrate! 🎉

Each week this month, I’m diving deep into the Menstrual Cycle. I’ll be sharing what is actually going on in your body during each phase of your menstrual cycle. We’ll cover how you can expect to feel, what is normal and what’s not, and finally small habits with diet and lifestyle/exercise that you can incorporate in each phase to support your hormones.

We’re kicking off the first part of the series today by covering everything you need to know about the Menstrual Phase - day 1 of your cycle, beginning with the first day of your period until your last day of bleed.

This phase is often referred to as Winter because it is the time in your cycle to rest and reflect. You are more likely to experience fatigue and less productivity, creativity, and ambition.


What’s going on during this phase:

During the Menstrual Phase, estrogen and progesterone levels are low. This drop in hormones is what triggers the lining of your uterus to break down and shed. This leads to bleeding, known as your period.

Estrogen is the hormone that helps to build and grow the lining of your uterus before your period. If estrogen levels are high, you may experience heavy or long periods because of the extra growth of the uterine tissue.

In contrast, if estrogen levels are low, you may experience shorter or lighter periods.

Ideally, you don’t want to be on either side of the spectrum with estrogen when it comes to fertility. Estrogen plays many important roles in your body, including bone density, weight management, hair health, and energy.


What do be aware of:

If you do not get your period regularly, there are 3 reasons you’ll want to consider.

1. You don’t ovulate.

With PCOS, this is typically the most obvious reason for irregular periods. Ovulation signals to the body to begin making progesterone. And remember from above, progesterone dropping is what triggers our period. If we do not ovulate, then we might not have enough of a progesterone drop to start a period.

2. Less than 21 days between periods.

When your period comes early, this is often related to progesterone as well. In this case, you may have ovulated, but your progesterone dropped too quickly. This is important to be aware of because this can create issues with pregnancy or first trimester miscarriages.

3. Hypothalamic amenorrhea

HA is the loss of your period due to not eating enough or over exercising, or most often a combination of both. When your body does has barely enough nutrients to sustain itself, it will stop ovulating and having a period. This is a protective mechanism to prevent a pregnancy that your body can not currently handle.


What’s normal and what’s not:

During the menstrual phase, it is normal for bleeding to last anywhere from 3-7 days, with the average being 5 days.

If you have bleeding for less than 3 days, it could be a sign of low estrogen.

If you have bleeding for more than 7 days, it could be a sign of high estrogen.

Quantifying bleeding can be difficult because of all the different period products available. However, the general rule of thumb is if you have to change a tampon of pad more than every 2 hours because you are soaking through, that is considered heavy bleeding and is not normal.

The bleeding should be somewhere between bright red to dark red. If you find brown blood that indicates that it is old. This happens often in women who go long periods of time without getting their period.

During this phase, it is normal to have lower energy. This is because our hormones have dipped.

It is not normal to be so exhausted that you feel like you need to be laid up in bed and are having to miss work/school. While these symptoms may be common among the women you know, it is not normal.

It is also not normal to have painful periods or huge mood swings. You should not feel like a different person or that your relationships are affected.

It is possible to have your period come and go without disrupting your life.



During the menstrual phase, there are 3 categories of food to focus on that will help to keep you feeling your best.

1. Iron-Rich Foods

Iron-rich foods will help to replenish the iron lost during bleeding.

These foods include:

  • Red meat

  • Oysters

  • Spinach

  • Beans

  • Ground Turkey

  • Molasses

2. Bone Broth

Bone broth helps to replenish fluid lost when bleeding. It is also rich in amino acids and minerals, both of which help with common period symptoms, such as cramping.

3. Salmon

Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation helps with cramps, heavy bleeding, as well as improving your mood.


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 Menstrual Phase, consider eating the following seeds:

  1. Flax Seeds

  2. Pumpkin Seeds

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.



Because supplements are so bioindivideal, I will not be discussing supplements too much in this series. However, during the menstrual phase, there are two teas that can be helpful!

1. Nettle Leaf Tea

Nettle Leaf Tea has been shown to lower testosterone levels in women with PCOS. It is also rich in iron and calcium. Drink 1-2 cups a day.

2. Red Raspberry Tea

Red Raspberry Tea strengthens the uterus, leading to less cramping and better flow.



As I mentioned in the beginning, this phase is a time to rest and reflect.

Putting a pause on exercise, if that’s what you feel your body needs, or opting for something more gentle is the way to go while in the Menstrual Phase. Short walks, stretching, or low intensity yoga or pilates is recommended.

Forcing your body into high-level exercise, when it doesn’t have the energy, will result in higher cortisol levels, putting your body into fight or flight, increase inflammation, and worse period symptoms next time around.

The Menstrual Phase is a good time to say no to plans, if you aren’t feeling up for it.

If you have the ability and flexibility to move around your work schedule, think about avoiding big projects and meetings during this phase.

Be gentle with yourself during this phase in your cycle. Don’t beat yourself up emotionally if you aren’t as productive or ambitious as you may have been two weeks prior.

Understanding your cycle and why you feel the way you do can eliminate so much internal stress!

I’d like to encourage you to try implementing one or two of these recommendations the next time you’re in your Menstrual Phase and see how it makes you feel!

If you are interested in learning more, check out episode 62 on the Heal Your Hormones Podcast: Cycle Syncing: The Menstrual Phase!

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