Your menstrual cycle holds the key to your most vibrant, energized life. This might sound kind of out there for some of you, but hear me out.
The hormones of your cycle affect more than just your period. They influence everything from your energy levels to your cognitive state, your nutritional needs, your sex drive, even your weight and the look of your skin.
Male and female hormone cycles are so different.
And as these hormones move through an average 28-day cycle of peaks, troughs, dips, and flows, how you feel changes too. No two days are the same, which means how you are in the middle of your cycle will be completely different from how you are at the end.
Men's hormones follow a different pattern. They peak in the morning and gradually drop off over the day, reaching their lowest point at night. The next morning they peak again, and the whole male cycle starts afresh. Each day is consistent, predictable, and just like the last.
Now here's why this is important—most of what we expect from ourselves and our bodies—from productivity to how we engage with the world—is really suited to only half the population: men.
As women, we sometimes expect ourselves to be at our peak every single day. We want to be endlessly productive, energized, and consistent. But our bodies just don't run on an every-day-is-the-same kind of model. And ignoring that is costing us. Big time. When you don't understand your female body, you don't know how to live in tune with her. And so you end up getting frustrated, burning out, or feeling completely overwhelmed. (Hello self-judgment). Plus, you miss out on windows of time when you're especially articulate, persuasive, and insightful.
But it doesn't have to be this way. The secret is to live in alignment with the four unique phases of your cycle.
Here's where it gets really amazing—these four phases reflect the seasons of nature. And as you tune into these phases of winter, spring, summer, and autumn, you start to truly unlock your full feminine potential.
Here's how to take advantage of your hormone cycle.
(Remember: Every body is different, so the cycle days mentioned below are just a guide. Some women have a 35-day cycle, others a 24-day cycle—and both can be completely normal and healthy! The magic of this approach is tuning into your body and learning your own unique rhythms.)
Winter (menstruation) Cycle Days 1-5
In nature, winter is a time to rest, go inward, and conserve energy. Some animals will even withdraw from the world completely and go into deep hibernation.
Winter in your female body is no different. During your period, your hormones are at their lowest, which means you'll often feel withdrawn, internal, and reflective. Your body is also busy shedding your endometrium (the innermost layer of your uterus), and that may leave you feeling more tired than usual.
That makes this phase all about easing up on your schedule and slowing down. It's perfect for cozy nights in, journaling, reflecting, and going inward. Give yourself full permission to rest and recharge so you can be ready for the month ahead.
Spring (follicular phase): Cycle Days 6-12
Just like spring in nature is a time of growth, birth, and renewal, spring in your body is a time of creation.
As your body begins maturing eggs for ovulation, your estrogen levels start to increase. This leaves you feeling energized, confident, and outgoing. Your brain is also wired to learn things faster in this phase, and you tend to be future-focused and optimistic.
That makes this the perfect time to get planning, take bold action, and try new things. Connect to your big visions and goals, and get clear on what action steps you want to take this month. Because you learn faster in spring, it's also great to try a new yoga position, take an art class, or up-skill in your job.
Summer (ovulation): Cycle Days 13–18
Summer is the season for fun. Just as the heat of summer makes it great for socializing, going out, or lounging on the beach, summer in your body is all about connection, pleasure, and play.
As your body gets ready for the final push to ovulation, your estrogen levels are peaking. This means your social skills are at their highest, and your skin is clear and radiant (thanks, estrogen). A burst of testosterone also boosts your libido, so you're feeling sensual, confident, and sassy. You're also more inclined to seek out pleasure and variety in this phase.
This makes summer perfect for spending time with your friends, family, or your intimate partner. It's a time to prioritize pleasure and enjoyment, whether that's eating out at your favorite restaurant, having a romantic weekend away, or chilling with your bestie.
Autumn (luteal phase): Cycle Days 19-28
The energetic highs of spring and summer come to an end as you start to wind down for winter. Just as the trees begin to shed their leaves in autumn, this is a time to cut back on your busy schedule and slow down.
Your estrogen levels have dropped off, and a new hormone is running the show—progesterone. Progesterone has a calming, Valium-like effect on the body, causing your mind to slow, your blood sugar levels to stabilize, and your energy levels to decrease. Your brain is primed for detail-oriented tasks rather than big-picture thinking, and you're more inclined to want to nest and self-care.
That makes autumn the perfect time to get your life in order. Use this time to catch up on bookkeeping, sort through your wardrobe, or get your meal prep for the month organized.
Tip: Many women find autumn challenging with the onset of PMS. But PMS is often a sign of an underlying hormonal imbalance. If you find yourself really struggling at this time of the month, consult with a hormone specialist on how to get things back in balance.
Following your seasonal cycle in this way rather than expecting yourself to be the same day in and day out is the secret to living a deeply aligned life. With this approach, there's a time for all things—intense productivity, planning and goal setting, play, adventure, rest, and reflection. It's a holistic approach that will help you work with your body instead of pushing against her all the time. It might just change your life.
Jodie Milton is a relationship, intimacy and empowerment coach, writer and co-creator of Practical Intimacy. She is Level 1 certified in the Gottman Method Couples Therapy training, and has been featured in publications such as Thrive Global, Huffington Post, Collective Hub, and Living Now. She helps women live their most fulfilling lives by learning to love themselves first, inside and out. She also works alongside her husband, Reece, to help couples create deeper intimacy and connection in their relationship.A graduate from Griffith University and Charles Darwin University, Jodie is passionate about helping others create meaningful, joy-filled lives on their own terms. Connect with Jodie through Facebook and Instagram.