It’s 2020 and we can talk about our periods without feeling shame. Women bleed, get over it. I am sure, like most women, you dread that time of the month when you want to curl up in bed with a hot water bottle and an endless supply of chocolate. But what if you can actually use your menstruation cycle to work for you? I don’t mean tracking it to know when to conceive or when to avoid sex entirely but how about using it to make you more productive at your job? By syncing our professional life to our cycle it allows us to be more efficient, productive and to stay in peak creative flow.
The menstrual cycle has many distinct phases:
Menstruation: The period—the shedding of the uterine lining. Levels of estrogen and progesterone are low.
The follicular phase: The time between the first day of the period and ovulation. Estrogen rises as an egg prepares to be released.
The proliferative phase: After the period, the uterine lining builds back up again.
Ovulation: The release of the egg from the ovary, mid-cycle. Estrogen peaks just beforehand, and then drops shortly afterwards.
The luteal phase: The time between ovulation and before the start of menstruation, when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. Progesterone is produced, peaks, and then drops.
The secretory phase: The uterine lining produces chemicals that will either help support an early pregnancy or will prepare the lining to break down and shed if pregnancy doesn’t occur.
If you want to understand each phase better and what this means, read this blog post on HelloClue. Each phase of your cycle provides you with amazing brain superpowers, it’s essential to know what those are and when they happen so you can plan ahead to take advantage of them.
How can this help me with my job?
Your hormones are incredibly powerful and have such an important impact on your mind and body. Each phase of your cycle does different things to your brain and understanding this will enable you to better structure your month.
Menstrual or bleeding phase
In the menstrual or bleeding phase, a drop in estrogen and progesterone collapses. This phase may make you feel extremely tired, sluggish and it’s also really painful. Knowing when this can occur allows you to organise your most important work and deadlines around this. For example, stay away from draining meetings or work that requires all your energy during this time.
This is at the end of your period and the best time for you! In this week, your estrogen and testosterone levels begin to build again. Increased hormonal activity means you may have a heightened sense of smell, along with clearer thinking and better coordination. It’s the time when you’re going to feel really good and it’s the perfect time to schedule those presentations, book brainstorm sessions and be creative. According to Lauri Grossman, chair of the Department of Medicine and Humanistic Studies at the American Medical College of Homeopathy, “during this phase, women also experience positive sensations such as relief, release, euphoria, new beginnings, invigoration, connection with nature, creative energy and exhilaration.” This is time to take on the world!
Estrogen and testosterone rise to peak levels during ovulation. According to Forbes, communication and collaboration skills are at the highest during this phase. The brain chemistry you have during this phase heightens your verbal skills. This is a great time to have important conversations. Maybe ask for that raise, plan to negotiate deals, work with your vendors.
This is your last phase. During this post-ovulation phase, many women feel very hot due to the increased progesterone. Doctors have also said that increased progesterone also relaxes the smooth muscle of the uterus as well as your gallbladder, sphincter and intestines which means you may look and feel more bloated. You can also go through emotions like anxiety, depression, irritability and mood swings.
Once you come to understand why you’re feeling certain ways and how you can leverage the different seasons of your cycle, everything changes. You will be able to schedule your workload around this and understanding how your hormones could be affecting you will also allow you to not be so hard on yourself.
There are dozens of period tracking apps available and I personally use Flo. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t tell me when it’s my luteal or follicular phase however that is something you will come to know once you familiarize yourself with your cycle. Here’s to making your bloody period work for you ladies!