Today, we’re going to talk about a topic that needs to be more widely discussed and known: the menstrual cycle.
Indeed, nowadays, the only knowledge most of us have on the menstrual cycle is the one we get at school and which usually only covers the biological part of it (ie. the hormones and the organs/structures involved in it).
However, the concrete impacts of the menstrual cycle on our body, mood, emotions, etc. are rarely explored. So most of us go through life without ever fully understanding what goes on inside ourselves and feel like our menstrual cycle is a curse or, at the very least, something annoying and disabling.
Of course, in a society where linearity is sought at all costs and rewarded, being cyclical is not viewed as something positive.
But today, I want to help you view your menstrual cycle in a new light! I want to help you better understand it and learn how to use it to your advantage.
Because, despite what our society tries to make us believe, we are fundamentally cyclical beings. And being cyclical is not something negative! On the contrary, accepting our cyclical nature makes us more performant.
Before we dive into the topic, there are two things that are important:
Whether you menstruate or not, I encourage you to listen to this episode to better understand the people around you that do menstruate.
If you menstruate but use a hormonal birth control method, you won’t experience the cyclicality of your menstrual cycle. But if you want to reconnect with your body and its cyclical nature, you can symbolically follow the moon cycle, which is often associated with the menstrual cycle and its phases.
So, are you ready to explore the power of your menstrual cycle?
What is the menstrual cycle?
Before I started learning more about the menstrual cycle and analyzing my own cycle, I thought that the menstrual cycle equalled the menstrual period and that nothing else happened in between.
And then I started observing myself and I started noticing some patterns from cycle to cycle. And I started reading about the menstrual cycle. That’s when I had an important realization: our menstrual cycle has a huge impact on our life!
But what exactly is the menstrual cycle?
I’m not going to do a full anatomy and biology lesson here today, but let’s just go over a few key pieces of information.
The menstrual cycle is actually composed of three different cycles, the ovarian, uterine, and cervical cycles, that interact between themselves and that are coordinated thanks to different hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH, and LH).
A cycle starts on the first day of the menstruation and lasts until the last day before the next menstruation.
The average duration of the menstrual cycle is 28 days, but only 13% of women have a 28-day cycle. So the vast majority of women have shorter or longer cycles. So if yours doesn’t last 28 days, it’s not a problem. A cycle is considered normal when it lasts between 21 and 35 days. If yours lasts shorter or longer than that, then you should consult your doctor.
The impacts of the menstrual cycle on productivity
As mentioned before, the menstrual cycle has an impact on many aspects of our life, and not only on our body. Here is a non-exhaustive list of elements that are influenced by it:
Physical manifestations (ex. bloating, pimples, sensitive breasts, diarrhea, muscular tone, etc.)
Nutrition and cravings
I highly encourage you to track your cycle and take note of your observations to better understand your cycle. For that, you can use the workbook I’ve created!
However, the impacts of your menstrual cycle on these elements are not the same throughout the cycle. They vary based on the phase of the cycle you’re in. Indeed, the menstrual cycle is divided into four phases and each phase is characterized by a specific "cocktail" of hormones.
No one is the same and each cycle is different, but there are usually some common characteristics to each phase, so here are the most common characteristics.
Also, I’m going to focus mostly on the characteristics of the phases that impact your productivity, but I encourage you to use the tracker to notice any other characteristics.
1st Phase: Menstrual (New Moon)
↓Energy - ↓ Emotions - ↓Sociability
It's a good phase for planning and introspection. It's also very important to rest during this phase.
2nd Phase: Follicular (First Quarter)
↑Energy - ↑ Emotions - ↑Sociability
It's the get-things-done phase! Action is the key word here, so get out there and tackle your to-do list!
3rd Phase: Ovulation (Full Moon)
↑Energy - ↑ Emotions - ↑Sociability
This phase is all about interaction. This is a great phase to spread the word about your project and collaborate with other people.
4th Phase: Luteal (Last Quarter)
↓Energy - ⇅ Emotions - ↓Sociability
This is usually the most complicated phase in terms of emotions. There are a lot of ups and downs. But it's not all negative because this phase is the perfect moment to assess what you're doing and determine what's working and what's not, so you can make the necessary changes!
Finally, it's important to note that your menstrual cycle doesn't prevent you from doing anything. It's not that you can't get certain things done in certain phases. You can do anything all the time. It's just that certain tasks will be easier to tackle in a particular phase compared to another because your body is primed to do so. It'll require less energy and resources to get things done. You'll be able to do them more easily and effortlessly.
Knowing your cycle will help you better manage your workload and get things done efficiently and without exhausting yourself!
As always, I wish you a zenly organized week,