Master Your Cycle Guide

Hi, I’m Ania,

Mind & Body Coach helping women feel happy and confident in their minds and bodies.

My mission is to share education and raise awareness about the female body so that every single woman understands her body’s functions and has the confidence to advocate for her health.

The menstrual cycle is a powerful indicator of your overall health and well-being.

It’s more than just a monthly occurrence; it’s a complex interplay of hormones that affects your physical, emotional, and mental health.

By understanding the different phases of your cycle and how they influence your body, you can gain valuable insights into your health and take proactive steps to manage your symptoms.

What is normal:

– A typical menstrual cycle lasts between 21 to 35 days.

– The cycle is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period.

– Periods usually last between 5 to 7 days.

– Total blood loss per period is typically between 30 to 80 millilitres (about 2 to 5 tablespoons).

– It’s normal for the flow to be heavier on the first couple of days and lighter towards the end.

 – Girls should begin menstruating by the age of 16. The average age for a girl to get her first period is 12.

 – While some variability is normal, your cycle should be relatively consistent. It’s an important indicator of overall health.

– Occasional irregularities can happen due to stress, illness, or lifestyle changes.

Hormones Throughout the Menstrual Cycle:

1. Follicular Phase – the first half of the cycle (~Days 1 – 13):

Estrogen levels increase steadily from the first day of your period up to the point of ovulation.

Estrogen helps stimulate the production of serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone. During the second week of the menstrual cycle, when estrogen levels are elevated, many women experience increased positivity, motivation, and energy.

Increased levels of estrogen can enhance emotional resilience, tolerance, openness to difficult conversations, and receptiveness to constructive feedback. It can also boost feelings of confidence, competitiveness, impulsivity, and motivation driven by rewards.

2. Ovulation (~Day 14):

The body starts producing progesterone.

Up to 40% of women are aware they are ovulating due to experiencing ovulation pain.

Another way to know if we’re ovulating is when we notice clear, stretchy vaginal discharge resembling egg whites, compared to dry or watery discharge.

3. Luteal Phase (~ Days 15 – 28): Both progesterone and estrogen are elevated, but they drop quickly right before your next period starts.

Progesterone promotes calmness, uplifts mood, improves sleep, and soothes the central nervous system like a natural anti-anxiety agent.

However, just before menstruation, both progesterone and estrogen plummet to low levels, contributing to many of the negative symptoms women experience during this phase of their cycle.


The importance of tracking your cycle:

 – You will gain clarity on which of your physical and emotional symptoms are linked to your cycle.

 – Once you understand your body and recognize what feels normal or abnormal, you can better manage your cycle and make the most of it.

 – Tracking helps you anticipate the ups and downs of your cycle. By knowing what to expect physically and emotionally at different times, we can take control of our cycle instead of letting it control us.

 – By tracking we will develop menstrual cycle resilience – the ability to effectively manage and adapt to the physical, emotional, and psychological changes that occur throughout the cycle.

 – It means knowing your cycle, preparing for symptoms, and using strategies to stay healthy and productive despite hormone changes. Building resilience helps you confidently manage your cycle and reduce its impact on your daily life.

 What to track:

1.Start and End Dates

2. Flow: Record the heaviness or lightness of your flow each day

3. Symptoms: Track any symptoms like cramps, headaches, or mood changes

4. Your energy and how training feels

5. Sleep: Quality and quantity

6. Cycle Length: Measure the number of days between the start of one period to the start of the next

7. Ovulation Signs: Note any changes in cervical mucus or ovulation pain if you’re tracking fertility

Navigating PMS:

 – Premenstrual syndrome with symptoms like headaches, breast pain, gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, brain fog and difficulty sleeping can be challenging for many.

 – The first step to managing PMS is to track your cycle. This helps you identify the symptoms you experience and pinpoint any dietary triggers that may worsen them, such as alcohol, caffeine or ultra-processed food.

 – Maintain a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, while reducing intake of caffeine, sugar, and salt, which can exacerbate bloating and mood.

 – During the second half of the menstrual cycle, there is a slight increase in insulin resistance, making it harder for the body to regulate blood sugar levels efficiently which can cause cravings for carbohydrates and sweets.  Avoiding sugar spikes by eating beans, lentils and veggies instead of pasta and bread and not having long gaps between snacks and meals should help.

 – Exercise can help with PMS because the endorphins released during physical activity act as natural mood boosters and pain relievers. Generally, women who exercise regularly tend to experience fewer symptoms.

It’s important to remember that the 4 pillars of health—nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management—are the same for our hormonal health and menstrual cycle.

A balanced diet with key nutrients like iron and omega-3s helps regulate hormones and reduce symptoms.

Regular exercise alleviates pain and boosts mood through endorphins. Quality sleep is essential for hormone balance, while consistent sleep schedules reduce stress.

Effective stress management through techniques like meditation and yoga can prevent symptom exacerbation and promote overall well-being.

Focusing on these pillars can help you manage your menstrual cycle better and improve your health.

Easing Period Pain:

 – Period pain is typically triggered by prostaglandins – hormone-like substances that play a key role in the menstrual cycle.

 – Their levels peak on the first day and can also cause stomach upset.
Medications effective for managing period pain and inhibiting excessive prostaglandin production include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin.

 – Heat can help ease painful periods by relaxing the muscles in the abdomen, improving blood flow, and reducing cramping.

 – You can use a heating pad, warm towel, hot water bottle, heat patches, or take a warm bath.

 – Also, yoga can ease painful periods by relaxing muscles, reducing stress, and improving circulation in the abdomen, which helps relieve cramping and discomfort. Specific yoga poses (e.g. Warrior I Pose, Downward Facing Dog & Lotus Pose) can also stretch and relax the pelvic area, providing additional relief.

 – Some women will find acupuncture or acupressure helpful, some will find relief from using herbal remedies such as ginger, chamomile tea, or evening primrose oil.

Nutrients that combat period pains:

– Oily fish or supplement with omega-3 fatty acids: Fish oil has been shown to cut period pain by 30% after two months of use. It works by reducing inflammation and lowering prostaglandin levels.

– Magnesium-rich food: Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains and dark chocolate. Magnesium helps relax muscles and reduce cramping.

– Zinc-rich food: Animal products, whole grains, almonds, cashews and baked beans for better immune and hormone function.

– Vitamin D: Fish, mushrooms and egg yolks for bone and mental health.

– B- Vitamins: Salmon, leafy greens, seeds, eggs, beans and meat. For brain health and to relieve PMS symptoms.

– Calcium: Milk & dairy, green vegetables, nuts and seeds for bone health and neuromuscular function.

– Anti-inflammatory foods: berries, plums, garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, seeds, oily fish, paprika avocado, ginger and turmeric.

– Keep yourself well-hydrated: Menstrual blood loss can lead to dehydration, which may result in headaches. Sip water regularly throughout the day, and try to avoid drinking a large amount of water at once. Excess water may simply be passed out as urine without being fully utilized to replenish fluids in the body.

Remember – every woman’s journey through her cycle is unique!

Learning more about our bodies helps us advocate for our health and spot any issues early on. This knowledge allows us to make smart choices and get help from doctors when needed, staying proactive about our well-being.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this Master Your Cycle guide is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.