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Tag: progesterone

The Second Phase of The Menstrual Cycle: The Follicular Phase

Photo by Diana Simumpande

In my last post, I took you through an overview of what happens during the first phase of the menstrual cycle, aptly called, the menstrual phase.  

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Did it help you understand a bit more about what’s happening during that time of your cycle? 

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Let’s talk about what happens next! 

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As you all know by now, I used to be be blissfully unaware of what happened in my cycle after my period ended.  All I cared about was that the terrible week of my period was over and I could get on with my life (and put the horrible period underwear away!).

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What I didn’t know is that what happens in the next phase sets up the groundwork for the rest of the menstrual cycle. 

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When we enter into the follicular phase (phase two of the menstrual cycle), our estrogen, testosterone and follicular stimulating hormone  (FSH) begin to increase again in preparation for ovulation (i.e. your body is getting ready to release an egg). 

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Do you feel an increase in your energy levels around this point?

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That increase in energy is connected to  rising hormones, preparing us to get out of the house, get social and look & feel our best! You might find that you get quite horny around this time too! Yeah!

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For many women, this is the time of their cycle when they feel their most vibrant, energetic and like their best selves. 

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Your confidence is at all time high so if there’s anything you’ve been hesitant about, try it now

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You also may feel more creative and the rising testosterone also means that you’ll be up for more risk taking and trying new things.

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Have you noticed this come up for you? 

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There’s a lot going on in your body during this phase of your cycle, so nourishing your hormones with lots of dark leafy greens and brassicas really helps (and the fibre keeps you regular!).

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Grass-fed beef & lamb are also superstar foods during this phase – they help replace the iron that has been lost during menstruation and can keep your energy levels high too! 

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What do you think? Is there anything else you want to learn more about this phase of your menstrual cycle? 

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Share your questions about the follicular phase of your cycle in the comments below!

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Next up: ovulation, or when one of our ovaries releases an egg! 

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

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 mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

The First Phase of the Menstrual Cycle: The Menstrual Phase

The Menstrual Phase of The Menstrual Cycle
Photo by Erol Ahmed

I didn’t learn much about my menstrual cycle when I was in school. Anyone else in a similar position?

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What I did learn about my cycle, I cobbled together from books, magazines (shout out to Sassy magazine!), chats with my girlfriends and eventually, some pretty serious googling when I was trying to get pregnant. 

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I often think about how great it would have been to learn about all of this much earlier. To learn that there are four phases to the menstrual cycle. Or that the menstrual cycle isn’t just about getting a period.  Or that ovulation is a hugely important part of it. Or that what you do in the 60 -90 days before your current menstrual cycle will have an effect on it. 

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Over the next few posts, I want to breakdown each of the four phases for you. 

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Are you with me? 

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Let’s start with the menstrual phase, which starts on day one of your period.

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During this phase, if you haven’t fertilised an egg in the previous cycle, your body takes this time to shed the lining of the uterus.  This is the menstrual bleed and typically can last between 4 – 7 days. 

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What’s happening with your hormones during this phase, because let’s face it: there’s always something happening in this area! 

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Estrogen (the hormone that controls the menstrual cycle) and progesterone (the hormone that is released after ovulation) are at their lowest points, so you might feel a bit low with not a lot of energy. 

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You might feel discomfort, pain, a lack of energy, a bit moody or that your emotional responses are a bit more heightened., i.e. you might get teary at a random TV advert. 

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Socially, you might find that you withdraw a little bit from activities or you want to stay at home, especially on day 1 & 2 of your period.  

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All of this is completely normal and part of the ebb and flow of our menstrual cycle.  

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What’s not normal is having lows that are too low, excessive bleeding or pain that is too much.If you feel like this, I would encourage you to explore what’s going on and work with a professional (like me!)to get to the bottom of it. 

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Interestingly, research shows that evaluation and analytical skills are at their strongest during this part of the menstrual cycle, so it’s a great time to take a step back, take stock and reflect on where you are in your life / career / etc. This would be a great time to schedule a call with a mentor or coach if you feel emotionally up to it. 

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It’s so fascinating to see that once you understand what’s going on during your period, you can start to listen to your body and connect more, rather than fighting it. 

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So many of us have negative feelings about our periods and I would love to encourage you to let go of that and find ways to be positive. If positivity is a step too far, then at least try a little bit less negativity. 

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Food, breathwork and movement  (I had to talk about this –  I’m a nutritionist & yoga teacher!) are incredible ways to support your body during this phase of your menstrual cycle.

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Listening to your body, remembering to breathe acknowledging the type of movement & food you crave and nourishing it with nutrient packed fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, complex carbohydrates and good fats will have only positive effects. 

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What do you think? Is there anything you want to learn more about this phase of your menstrual cycle?

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Look out for my post about the next phase of the menstrual cycle!

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

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 mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

How does yoga help balance hormones?

How do you feel after you go to a yoga class?

 

Calmer? A bit more chilled out? 

 

Many studies have shown that yoga has calming effects on our nervous systems, hormones and psychological wellbeing, creating a blissed out feeling that lasts well past the end of a 45 minute class. 

 

That calming effect reduces the levels of cortisol in our bodies and takes us out of the flight or flight, stressed state. You know, that frenzied feeling where your never ending to-do list keeps cycling around in your head and you’re doing too many things at the same time. 

 

For women especially, studies show that yoga can improve the pre-menstrual luteal phase, reducing feelings of anxiety, depression and increasing feelings of relaxation and calm.

 

Because yoga is so beneficial in reducing cortisol levels, it can have a positive effect on reducing how we cope with stress on an ongoing basis. 

 

When we can get stressed, our cortisol levels increase, we go into a fight or flight state (think clammy hands, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat and sweating) and this gives our brains a signal that it should make less progesterone and estrogen. 

 

When you’re in the fight or flight state, your brain is thinking – she’s stressed, she’s making loads of cortisol, she’s not going to be procreating any time soon, so I don’t need to make as much estrogen and progesterone. And this leads to hormone imbalance because your body isn’t making the right levels of estrogen and progesterone to keep the reproductive system, moods, energy, bones and skin in balance. 

 

Our bodies desperately want to be in equilibrium and want to get us back to a calm, restful state as much as possible. Modern life makes this hard, so this is where yoga comes in. The combination of dynamic movement and breathing regulates the breath, calms the mind and take the nervous system back to a state where you feel on an even keel. 

 

Breathing helps and there are quite a few specific poses that have a positive effect on the endocrine system – these are the organs that make hormones; the thyroid, the adrenals, the reproductive hormones and of course, the brain. 

 

Watch out for upcoming posts where I break down specific poses that support hormone balance. 

 

What’s your favourite calming yoga pose?

 

Do you want support to balance your hormones, reduce stress and stop mood swings?  Get in touch for a free 30 minute nutrition, hormone & menstrual health review to help clear the confusion.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach, trainee yoga teacher and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

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 mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

 

Research sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24298457
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25965108 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24138994 

 

Photo by Yayan Sopian on Unsplash

Deep Breathing To Support Hormone Balance

Hormones are a funny thing, aren’t they? 

 

When they’re in sync, we don’t worry about them. 

 

When they’re not, well, it feels a bit like our bodies are betraying us, doesn’t it? 

 

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you’ll know that there’s a lot that can be done to support hormone health  with nutrient dense food and high quality sleep.

 

And what about exercise?

 

Exercise is an amazing form of self-care and stress management that, in combination with consistent sleep and eating habits, can help bring balance to hormones like estrogen, progesterone and cortisol. 

 

And considering I’m more than halfway through my yoga teacher training, it would be remiss for me not to mention the incredible power of yoga to help balance hormones. 

 

The physical practice of yoga is beneficial of course, to help balance cortisol and adrenaline levels, however I really want to share the power of yoga breathing. 

 

Incorporating a few yogic breathing techniques into your day to day life can help reduce stress, which can have a positive effect on hormone balance.

 

Does the breathing technique help to calm you down?

 

 Let me know in the comments!

 

Do you want support to balance your hormones, reduce stress and stop mood swings?  Get in touch for a free 30 minute nutrition, hormone & menstrual health review to help clear the confusion.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach, trainee yoga teacher and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

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 mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

 

Hormones 101: Progesterone

 

In the last post, I talked about estrogen, one of our two major female sex hormones.

 

Today, I’d like to have a closer look at progesterone, estrogen’s counterpart.

 

How much do you know about this essential female sex hormone? 

 

There’s often lots of discussion about estrogen, but not enough similar discussion about its partner hormone, progesterone.

 

Although progesterone is most closely associated with pregnancy and preparation for pregnancy, it is also important for a healthy menstrual cycle.

 

So what’s the deal with progesterone? 

 

The majority of progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum, a little structure that comes from the follicle of the egg that was released. This helps prepare the body for pregnancy if the eggs gets fertilised.

 

We also produce progesterone in very small amounts in the ovaries & the adrenal glands. In pregnancy, the placenta also produces progesterone.

 

If you think back to the four phases of the menstrual cycle,  your progesterone levels don’t stay the same throughout. 

 

They’re generally at their highest point a few days after ovulation, the halfway point of our menstrual cycle. Your progesterone levels drop  if you don’t fertilise an egg and are at the lowest point on the first day of our periods.

 

If the woman doesn’t get pregnant that cycle, the corpus luteum disintegrates, progesterone drops, and this is the signal for a woman’s period to start.  

 

If a women does get pregnant, then progesterone will help the blood vessels on the lining of the womb grow and stimulate glands that will nourish the embryo with nutrients.

 

It also prepares the womb for the fertilised egg to implant and helps maintain the pregnancy, rising all the way until birth.

 

So what else does progesterone do for us? 

 

Its other major function is to help regulate the menstrual cycle, so you want it to be balanced with estrogen.

 

When you have too little or much, you can experience PMS symptoms such as mood swings, insomnia, bloating, blood sugar imbalance, anxiety, acne and cramps.  Check out my post on the 5 Types of PMS to learn more.

 

Do you notice the ups and downs of progesterone across your cycle? 

 

Have you noticed it dropping as you approach perimenopause and menopause?

 

If you have questions about progesterone  and feel like you don’t know what’s going on with your progesterone levels, get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 


Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

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 mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

I Tried It: Seed Cycling For Hormone Balance

pumpkin and sunflower seeds for hormone balance

Do you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster throughout your menstrual cycle?

 

Do you suffer from mood swings, acne, fatigue and nausea in the week before you get your period?

 

Maybe it’s time to try seed cycling to address this hormone imbalance.

 

Despite specialising in this area and helping my clients improve their menstrual and hormone health, I realised a few months ago that I had to address my own hormone health. You see, I was ashamed of the hormonal acne I would get like clockwork in the week before my period. I thought to myself, “how dare I give my clients advice, when I’m struggling with the same things myself!?!”

 

Hormone acne is a sign of imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, so I decided to try seed cycling as a way to bring my hormones back into balance.

 

If you’re new to seed cycling, or wondering about the detail behind it, here’s a great guide that I’ve written up.

 

In a nutshell, even though your menstrual cycle is split into 4 phases, the main principle behind seed cycling is splitting your cycle into two – day 1 – 15 (with day 1 starting on the first day of your period) and 16 – 28 (or however long your cycle actually is).

 

In the first part of your cycle, you’ll be taking a tablespoon of flax seed and a tablespoon of pumpkin seed each day. This supports estrogen production.

 

In the second half of your cycle, you’ll be supporting progesterone production by taking a tablespoon of sunflower seeds and a tablespoon of sesame seeds each day.

 

Seems pretty straight forward, doesn’t it?

 

I decided to add the seeds into my morning smoothie so that it would be easy to integrate into my morning routine and I wouldn’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.  Luckily, I had all the seeds already on hand in my kitchen cupboard, so I moved them to my kitchen counter so I would remember to add them to my morning smoothie.

 

So far, I’ve been doing seed cycling for three cycles, and it’s taken 3 cycles to see any difference in my skin. I have to admit that when I continued to breakout after the first round of seed cycling, I was very disappointed. I decided to keep going, knowing that it takes time and patience to bring balance back to sex hormones.

 

So I plunged into the next round of seed cycling, which by this point, had become a habit. As long as I had my morning smoothie, adding the seeds was an automatic action that I didn’t need to think too much about.

 

Cue my disappointment, when my next luteal phase arrived and so did the pimples on my chin and around the lower right hand side of my mouth and cheek.

 

Nevertheless, I persisted.

 

I looked at my skin in the mirror this morning and realised that my usual luteal phase spots hadn’t appeared. And I did a little cartwheel of joy inside!

 

I’m taking a wait and see approach to the seed cycling and will probably continue to do it for at least three more menstrual cycles to continue to balance my hormones and support my skin health.

 

Would you try seed cycling to support hormone balance, skin health and your menstrual cycle?

 

If you want to have an in-depth conversation about way I can help you support your hormone, skin and menstrual health and feel more in control of what’s happening in your body, book a free 30 minute hormone health review by clicking this link

 

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

Exercise and your menstrual cycle.

exercise and the menstrual cycle

Have you ever thought about how your cycle affects the way you exercise?

 

The highs and lows of hormones means that at certain times in your cycle it’s better to slow things down and do very light, gentle exercise. And at other times in your cycle, you feel full of energy and ready to take on the world.

 

Menstrual Phase

 

Do you notice a difference in the way you feel about exercise during your menstrual cycle?

 

I do.

 

During the first few days of my period, I usually stick to light and gentle yoga sessions, because I find that anything else leaves me feeling totally drained afterwards, which is the opposite of how I want to feel after I work out!

 

Follicular Phase

 

I notice a huge difference in my energy levels as soon as I finish my period.

 

Do you?

 

My energy skyrockets (along with my estrogen and progesterone levels) and I feel ready to take on the world!

 

It’s during this time of my cycle, I like to try new types of exercises, new classes, new instructors and new yoga flows. I find that I’m much more open to trying new things and the energy I have helps me retain new information.

 

Ovulation

 

There’s a point in our cycles where we feel so full of energy, like we can conquer the world!

 

Can you relate to this?

 

This is usually happens around day 14-16 of our menstrual cycles when we ovulate. We’re at the peak of our powers and it’s the point when our estrogen and progesterone levels are at their highest.

 

This is the time in our cycles when it’s great to go hell for leather into your hardest, most challenging class, turn the dial up to the hardest you’ve ever gone in your spin class or add a bit of extra weight in the gym.

 

Luteal Phase

 

Do you ever feel a bit sluggish and tired in the week before your period? As estrogen and progesterone start to drop, so do our energy levels.

 

This is the time when you might feel a bit moody, bloated and your skin might breakout a bit.

 

During this time in my cycle, I try not to push myself, unless I’m really feeling up to it.

 

Instead, I focus on restorative yoga flows, lots of slow paced sun salutations and brisk walking (I can’t get away from walking, living in London!).

 

The peaks and troughs of our hormones and how they connect to our energy levels show how important it is for us to listen to our bodies and not force ourselves to exercise that our bodies aren’t ready for that particular day.

 

Do you want to talk more about your menstrual cycle and getting control of any hormonal issues that are stopping you from exercising and leading a life full of energy? Book in for a free 30 minute Hormone Health Review!

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