Sex & relationships education in schools leaves a lot to the imagination, and one of those subjects is the hormone cycle of people with uteruses.
The basic curriculum teaches you that the hormone cycle is on average 28 days long, that ovulation is day 14 and menstruation is day 28. You often learn what happens during your period and the symptoms that come with it. And that’s about your lot.
I left school not having a full understanding of what actually happened to my body during different stages in my cycle, and how that can affect so many parts of my daily life.
It wasn’t until the ripe age of 22 that I discovered the book Period Power by Maisie Smith that I truly began to understand my cycle, and become in tune with my own body. At a time when I’d completely stopped taking hormonal contraception in the hopes that I could figure out who I am without the extra hormones, I found this book and it changed my life. It empowered me by providing me the resources to know exactly what happens in my body every cycle and why I feel the way I do.
From knowing the ins and outs of your cycle and how your body reacts to it you can start to plan ahead your social calendar and your working projects to suit the stages of your cycle.
Let’s break the cycle down into the basics.
Your cycle begins on the first day of your period where there’s a full flow, this is deemed the Winter of your cycle where your hormone levels collapse and you can feel fatigued, vulnerable, emotional and unsettled. Your body has just flushed out all its preparation for an embryo implantation that didn’t happen.
Next comes Spring which sees an increase in Oestrogen as your follicular phase (days 1 -14) effects comes into full force. You’ll feel more confident, sensual, fertile and be able to pick up new skills easier. This is your build up to ovulation so your body is preparing you to find a mate to fertilise your egg.
After ovulating you transition into the Luteal Phase, starting with your Summer which is still riding the waves of the influx in Oestrogen and feels confident, happy, sociable and productive. Much like Spring you’re still in a fertile window so your body is continuing that effort to get pregnant.
But as Oestrogen dips and Progesterone takes over you begin to slow down as you come into your Autumn, You feel quiet, calm and introspective but also susceptible to anxiety and mood swings. You can look at this as your body’s sad era, after trying to make you feel confident and sociable in order to fertilise your egg it hasn’t worked so things slow down as your body prepares for menstruation.
And that’s a super simple breakdown of each stage of your cycle, and how it feels and why. But there’s so much more to learn than just that, by taking the time to track your cycle and spot patterns, you can begin to live your life around your cycle to feel more in touch with your body. Maximise your productivity or creativity, and just feel more balanced and understanding in those stages where you feel like crap and you’ve never been able to properly justify why.