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A Week-By-Week Guide to Navigating the 4 Monthly Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle

So many women experience unpleasant symptoms related to their monthly menstrual cycle. Chances are, if you’re reading this article, that you are one of these women, or know someone who is.

Feeling off, moody, crampy, or sick may be something that you’ve simply grown accustom to over the years and anticipate with a regular dose of Midol or an extra cup of coffee.

Maybe you were brought up to hide your period, to act like nothing is different on a period day from any other day, and to push through with your workouts and social plans regardless of how you’re feeling.

This isn’t about women being “hormonal.”

Women’s hormones fluctuate all the time: specifically, four times a month. (Did you know that?) This isn’t about women being “hormonal.” This is about experiencing and celebrating your body’s innate ability to flow and evolve with the cycle of the moon.

Preparing your body to potentially create and carry life can have major effects on how you feel and think. When you consider what your body is capable of, it brings a whole new perspective to these shifts that are usually viewed as a burden.

Although some women may be more in tune with these changes than others, all of this ebbing and flowing (so to speak) makes a lot more sense once you realize the specifics of what is happening inside you during each phase of your menstrual cycle, why it’s happening, and what to expect.

Women’s hormones fluctuate all the time: specifically, four times a month.

If, at certain times of the month, you would expect to feel more energetic, more social, or more interested in quiet, alone time, wouldn’t you plan accordingly?

Honor the Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle: Here’s How

Below is an outlined description of our bodies’ natural monthly rhythms and how they can impact you, week by week. As always, trust yourself and listen to your body.

You can navigate your monthly menstrual cycle with more ease and grace by taking the following steps:

  • Honor your body
  • Control what you can control
  • Know what to expect during each phase
  • Prepare your body and mind for your fluctuations
  • Prioritize self-care, when you need it most

By approaching each phase with specific forms of self-care and maybe even having a little more respect and compassion for your monthly menstrual cycle, you can experience a less symptomatic period and ease your natural PMS symptoms (sometimes even without doctors or medications).

It’s important that you recognize that you are different on different days and even weeks of your monthly cycle. It’s time to honor these changes rather than ignore them. Hormones can affect everything from your energy levels and sex drive to your confidence and your ability to focus.

Women experience four different physical phases that can impact how you feel, think, and process information.

It also may be helpful to understand that there is more going on every month than simply ovulating and menstruating. In fact, women experience four different physical phases that can impact how you feel, think, and process information.

Once you become aware of what to expect during each phase, you can feel a little more prepared about how you are going to feel and what type of plans you’ll want to schedule or cancel. As always, trust yourself and listen to your body.


This Is How to Effectively Navigate the 4 Weeks of Your Menstrual Cycle:

This is a little guide to help you naturally navigate through your monthly menstrual cycle so you experience less painful and problematic symptoms and allow yourself a little more love and personal space when you need it the most.

Week 1: Follicular Phase

The first week of your monthly cycle is called the follicular phase, and it starts right after your period ends (some women may refer to this as the “beginning” of their cycle).

This is a time when you may feel an increase in energy, focus, and creativity. When you have a good idea of how you feel during this phase, you might want to schedule more projects, meetings, or social get-togethers around this time.

Stay consistent with drinking purified water throughout the day, fitting in exercise and meditation that works for you, and eating a diet that is made up mostly of whole foods and home-cooked meals.

Week 2: Ovulation

The second phase (not all phases are exactly seven days long, and every woman is a little different) is when most women experience ovulation. If you are using a form of hormonal birth control, you may not experience these changes.

Many women, when they’re paying attention, will note that this is the time of the month that they “feel their best.” Your sexual desire may be peaking, your skin will be clearer, and you might even be feeling more confident when you look in the mirror.

Physical and emotional self-care as well as balanced, nourishing eating will support your mind and body during this time.

Once your hormones shift (about three to five days in), you may start to feel less energetic and possibly a little “down” as you head into your luteal phase (right before your period).

Physical and emotional self-care as well as balanced, nourishing eating will support your mind and body during this time.

Week 3: Luteal Phase

Next, will come your luteal phase, which is when some women experience what many refer to as “PMS.”

This is what I like to refer to as, “extra care-required time.” This is a great time to chill out a bit at home and schedule less at work. If you notice it’s hard to focus and your mood is off, make sure to communicate with those close to you that you need some extra space for a few days.

This is a great time to chill out a bit at home and schedule less at work.

How you take care of yourself this week will relate to how symptomatic your upcoming period will be.

This is an ideal time to fit in lighter but consistent workouts like yoga, Pilates, meditation (always), and walking. Exercise doesn’t have to be extreme. Choose nutritious whole foods like berries, vegetable soups, lean meats, and healthy fats, and start pulling back on stimulants like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

Suffering from PMS? Practice These 4 Yoga Poses For Natural PMS Relief

Week 4: Final Phase

Once your period begins during your final phase, choose to ride this wave with a little extra love. Instead of expecting a few days of eating junk food in your sweatpants, consider shifting this time into one of rejuvenation and relaxation (and yes, actually, you can keep the sweatpants).

Clear your schedule, prioritize clean eating, getting full nights of sleep, and taking care of you. Cravings attract more cravings. So, by eating cleanly, you’ll allow your body to naturally detox during this week. You’ll feel so much better if you avoid eating heavy meals and salty foods.

Caffeine and alcohol only make symptoms like bloating, cramps, and headaches worse. This is where being strong and making healthier choices is important. Allow yourself to create boundaries so you can tune in and spend some time on yourself. Take an Epsom salt bath, get a massage, and take some time to journal. There’s no need to push yourself.

And Then, Your Menstrual Cycle Starts All Over Again!

Then, my friend, you get to start all over again. The first thing to realize is that these shifts in your body are real, and they are natural. Without feeling like you are wrong, weird, or crazy, honor what your amazing body is capable of and use this predictable knowledge to your advantage.

Two apps I use on my smartphone to help me track my menstrual cycle are Glow and MyFlo. Each focus on something a little different and both help with tracking symptoms, moods, and predicting future cycles.

These shifts in your body are real, and they are natural.

Regardless of whether you’re having sex or trying to get pregnant, it’s a great idea to know where your body is in its cycle and keep an eye on any irregularities. This way you can either plan your calendar accordingly or at least better understand what you’re feeling.

There are ways to improve your monthly symptoms with gentle exercise, nutritious foods, mindfulness, and self-care. Be sure to contact your physician if you’re experiencing anything of concern and always listen to your body. What is yours telling you?

This article and all included information is not intended as medical advice and does not treat or diagnose. Please consult your doctor for any health-related questions or concerns.

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Nicole Schmitz

Nicole L. Schmitz is a Mama, Certified Health and Nutrition Counselor, Medicinal Aromatherapist, yogi and writer. She uses easy to understand nutritional knowledge to support others as they navigate the world of natural health. She loves living by the beach, creating art, and inspiring others to make better healthy lifestyle choices every day.

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