Whether you want to admit it or not, print magazines are a dying bread. I still love sitting down with a glossy, but there are now only one or two titles that I’ll happily read from cover-to-cover (10 years ago I could easily get through a dozen magazines a month). And, like so many of my friends, my favourite publication right now is Red. I always get tons of inspiration from their fashion pages, and find their wellness content incredibly insightful too.
Red magazine’s June issue was particularly helpful, because they published a three-page article about understanding and responding to your menstrual cycle. This could not have come at a better time, as I recently switched from the pill to the IUS coil, and have been struggling to get to grips with my body’s new patterns.
Cyan Turan’s Red feature highlighted a really interesting period-tracking technique, which has helped me feel more connected to my monthly cycle. And I’m sharing the details below, in the hopes that it will help you too…
Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle
THE “SEASONS OF YOUR CYCLE” ANALOGY
Red magazine spoke to menstrual coach and author of Adore Your Cycle, Claire Baker. And Claire shared the analogy that she works from to explain the different stages of a typical cycle to her clients. She divides each cycle into four seasons, and the simple analogy makes so much sense. Here’s how it works…
Winter is your actual period (days 1-6 of your monthly cycle). Oestrogen and progesterone levels are low, which will effect your mood and make you feel sluggish. Things start to brighten-up with the arrival of Spring (days 7-13), however. And Summer (days 14-21) marks the period of ovulation.
Claire Baker explained to Red, “Oestrogen is at its peak when you’re ovulating, and a bump in testosterone makes us feel strong and resilient… Once the body has realised it isn’t going to conceive, however, progesterone is high and oestrogen dips up and down before they both start a steady decline… The end of summer can be challenging for some women; they’ll stop feeling like superwoman.”
Autumn (days 22-28) is all about the decline in progesterone and oestrogen, so it’s natural to feel tired, moody and less social.
I’ve found this analogy so helpful! Because although I can always sense when my period is due, I’d previously paid very little attention to the other stages of my monthly cycle.
And, as Claire notes, this framework can help you make strategic decisions based around your hormones. For example: you can aim to schedule important work pitches, interviews and events around your spring and summer seasons, when you’ll feel most energised. And, on the flip side, you can then plan ahead to set a lighter social schedule throughout your autumn and winter phase.
I’ve also started using Clue, the free period and ovulation tracking App. It helps you to see which “season” you’re in, and also lets you record the unique patterns in your menstrual cycle, so you can receive accurate predictions about upcoming symptoms (headaches, cramps, feeling sensitive etc).
I’m enjoying using Clue so much that I actually got excited when period cramp caught me off-guard, a few weeks ago, because it meant I could update Clue. And anything that manages to make the misery of periods more fun is alright with me!
Do you think you need to get a better at understanding your menstrual cycle? What do you make of Claire Baker’s analogy? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts and experiences…
Photos by Kylie Eyra
P.S. Have you listened to the Let’s Discuss podcast episode about hormonal health and contraceptives yet? If not you can catch up here…