Cycle and four seasons
The average Western woman will have approximately 480 menstrual cycles in her lifetime. Take a few moments to understand how your hormones work in each phase of your cycle in order to benefit in all areas of your life.
We can even connect each of the four phases of your cycle to nature for a beautiful understanding of our cycles. Each phase of your monthly cycle brings about different physical and emotional feelings in a similar way to the seasons in nature.
We don’t expect nature to provide endlessly. We know that trees and plants have seasons when they produce (spring and summer) and seasons when they need to rest (winter). We also have a powerful inner cyclical nature and the more we honour it the easier life will be because we are working with our natural rhythm instead of against our true nature.
The four phases of your menstrual cycle
PHASE 1 – MENSTRUATION
Season – Winter:
Physical: Your period, officially called menstruation usually lasts approximately 3-7 days. Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of bleeding.
Hormones: Progesterone level fall and this causes the breakdown and shedding of your uterine lining.
As your bleeding progresses, the key hormones related to your menstrual cycle (estrogen, progesterone, LH and FSH) are all low. This is why most blood tests for cycle purposes are taken on cycle day 3.
Your fertile signs (FAM): Your waking temperature will fall the day you start bleeding or soon after. Your cervix is firm and low and slightly open to allow menstrual blood to pass through.
Emotional: You may notice that your energy levels are low while you are bleeding (menstruating) and you want to stay home and relax rather than be out and around lots of people. Many women seek quiet at this time and may even choose to take a day off work.
- Keep your commitments to the bare minimum while you’re bleeding so you can take this time for yourself
- Eat some nourishing food (you hopefully prepared last week) like vegetable laden soups and high quality protein.
- Journaling: write down some of the insights you are getting from the quiet and space you created. You will want to remember them later on in your cycle.
- Keep your movement gentle to avoid stress on the ligaments holding your uterus. Walking and gentle yoga are perfect for this phase. This is a time to listen to your body and not push yourself with strenuous activity.
- If you have period pains, it’s a further message from your body to rest. Heat packs can help reduce pain. Do consider abdominal massage after the bleeding stops to improve blood flow and prevent pain next cycle.
PHASE 2 – THE FOLLICULAR PHASE
Season – Spring:
Hormones: Your estrogen levels gradually increase as ovulation gets closer. Uterine lining and egg development are beginning in preparation for a potential pregnancy.
Physical: Your skin looks and feels better and your libido increases.
Your fertile signs (FAM): You may notice increasing fertile mucus as your fertile window begins. Your waking temperature is still low.
Emotional: Estrogen increases your energy, mood and confidence and even makes your skin look and feel better. You may find you are more extroverted and craving connection with others.
- You’re on fire at the moment so try new things, brainstorm ideas and strategies and make life decisions.
- Be social: this is the perfect time to meet up with friends, go to networking meetings and get out there!
- Movement: More strenuous exercise at this time of your cycle is perfect.
PHASE 3 – THE OVULATORY PHASE
Season – : Summer
Physical: Ovulation is really the highlight of your entire cycle. The egg will survive for 12-24 hours and will either be fertilized or will die. However the positive glow around ovulation can be enjoyed for a few days after ovulation, too.
Hormones: Leading up to ovulation, Estrogen levels are high, progesterone levels are low and right before ovulation there is a surge of LH (Luteinizing Hormone) which causes the dominant follicle to burst open and release its egg into the fallopian tube. The ruptured follicle becomes the corpus luteum (yellow body) and starts to produce progesterone which holds the uterine lining in place until your body confirms if you are pregnant or not.
Your fertile signs (FAM): Your cervical fluid is very clear or viscous egg-white fluid, with lots of elasticity. Your cervix becomes soft, higher and more open just before ovulation to allow sperm into your uterus. After ovulation you should see an increase in your basal body waking temperature because there is an increase in progesterone which raises your basal body temperature.
Emotional: All those good feelings from the Spring phase continue during the Summer. You look and feel fantastic and sexy. You may find it’s easier for you to share your thoughts and feelings. All your senses are on fire!
- You are at your best at the moment so go for job interviews, get yourself to networking events and tackle any tricky conversations now.
- Making decisions and planning your future is perfect during the Summer phase.
- Plan your date night with your partner now or schedule a first date during this time. You’ll be at your absolute best for connecting and flirting.
- Movement: High energy movement to match your high energy levels.
- Diary: while you’re enjoying all this energy and extrovertism it can be tempting to fill your diary with events for the rest of the month. Just remember you’re not going to feel this way forever. Sorry, but it’s true.
PHASE 4 – THE LUTEAL PHASE
Season – Autumn : The Luteal phase (ovulation till your period) typically lasts 12-16 days which corresponds to Autumn is the last part of your cycle.
Physical: Post ovulation you should still be feeling active and in a good mood but your energy levels usually lower as the luteal phase progresses.
Hormones: After ovulation FSH and LH levels sharply decline and remain low for the rest of the cycle. Estrogen gradually declines and the follicle that released the egg will start to produce progesterone, causing this hormone to rise gradually. Progesterone stimulates the growth of the lining of the uterus in preparation for pregnancy.
Your fertile signs (FAM): High progesterone levels after ovulation should keep your waking temperature high for the remainder of the luteal phase. Progesterone also dries up the fertile cervical fluid you noticed leading up to ovulation blocking sperm from entering your uterus.
Emotional: You may still be feeling good during the first half of the luteal phase due to the hormones of the ovulatory phase. However, all good things must come to an end and as progesterone production increases you will notice you want to slow down and stay at home more and more. Preparing your nest by tidying up and finishing off your to do lists can be perfect for this period.
This next stage is tricky for many women as you start to crave carb heavy food, find your patience level is at an all time low and you are super moody and possibly feeling quite low and despondent. Try to keep your calendar free so you can stay close to home if you desire. You may feel alone but know that it’s your hormones and things will feel much better in a week or two.
- Self-care is your primary goal during the luteal phase. The more you honour your need for rest and relaxation the better you will feel during the rest of your cycle.
- Choose healthy nourishing foods to give your body as many nutrients as possible.
- Take a yoga or stretching class
- Get yourself to bed as early as possible and make sleep a priority. We all feel so much better after 8 hours of rest.
- Schedule a massage or reflexology treatment or any other activity that makes you feel good.
I hope this journey through the seasons of your cycle and the physical, emotional and hormonal changes has been as fascinating for you as it was when I first learnt about it.
My personal experience and what I see through my work with women is that the more we accept that we are cyclical beings and we feel and act differently at different times of the month, the easier our lives become because we are working with nature instead of against it. It isn’t always easy but it can be very worthwhile.
Please share this article with your sisters, daughters, friends and anyone you think can benefit from it. Share it with your partner and your sons and brothers so they can better support the women in their lives, too!
The more this information becomes available the better off we will all be.
I don’t actually know who to credit with the idea of connecting the seasons with the cycle. I have personally learnt from reading the book “Wild Power” by Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Wurlitzer and “4 Seasons in 4 Weeks” By Suzanne Mathis McQueen as well as the work of countless others in the menstrual coaching world.
I’m a holistic therapist and I am here to help you!
I love helping women to overcome their fertility challenges and other issues related to your cycles, pregnancy, periods and/or anxiety.
I treat women with abdominal and womb massage techniques known as Sobada (formally the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Massage) and reflexology.
I’m also an Advanced EFT Tapping practitioner and I work with women in particular issues around anxiety, depression, stress levels.
I teach Fertility Awareness to help women better know their bodies and improve their chances of conceiving or prevent pregnancy naturally.
I live in Modi’in, Israel and that’s where I spend my days helping women during their fertile years, pregnancy, menopause and other hormonal conditions. Bodywork sessions (massage and reflexology take place in my clinic in Modi’in but EFT Tapping sessions and Fertility Awareness education can take place online or in person).
Learn more about working with me here.