In my last post, we talked about the first phase of the menstrual cycle, menstruation, which most of us are very, very familiar with.
Let’s talk about what happens after our periods finish when we move into the follicular phase, or our inner spring.
A lot of us look forward to this time in our menstrual cycles, because we know as we move further into our inner spring we’ll start to feel like our best selves. Our estrogen levels are rising and with this comes more energy, an outward focus, a need to try new things or take more risks, more creativity and a feeling that things are more likely to go our way.
With more estrogen comes more serotonin (our happy hormone), more dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with reward) and more acetylcholine (the neurotransmitter that helps us think and come up with ideas).
Do you notice changes in your libido after you finish your period? Does it come roaring in again? Or do you find yourself feeling more aware of yourself, even by 1%, as a sexual being? That’s the effect of more energy from estrogen and rising testosterone, the hormone that is associated with libido.
Testosterone is also the reason why we may feel more confident and stronger when we exercise or it simply feels easier to lift something heavy. If you’re exercising and moving your body according to where you are in your cycle, this is the time when muscle becomes easier to put on. And this is really important because after the age of 30, we lose about 3 – 8% of our muscle mass each year. Supporting muscle also means healthy bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, or decreased bone density.
There are physical signs we can look for to show us that we’re moving into our inner spring.
After our periods finish, you may notice that your cervical fluid (what you see after you wipe your vulva in the loo or in your underwear) starts to change. This is a good thing.
On a personal note, I didn’t learn about changing cervical fluid until my early 30s and actually went to the doctor at one point because I was baffled by the changes, thinking I might have a yeast infection. I didn’t. Your cervical fluid will change from very clear to a similar texture to egg white. If you were to pick it up in your fingers right before ovulation, it might feel viscous and sticky – we want this, because this is a sign that estrogen levels have risen to their peak and we’re about to release an egg from one of our ovaries.
What’s normal during the follicular phase? More energy, a feeling of wanting to rejoin the world again, more confidence and creativity, increased libido, better skin, improved mood, better sleep, a smaller appetite.
What isn’t normal? Sustained low energy, pre-ovulatory anxiety, lack of libido, no changes to cervical fluid or excess cervical fluid, constipation.
How does this phase of the menstrual cycle feel for you? Tell me more in the comments.
Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones.
Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Boden, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.
Her first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in March 2022.
Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.