Your menstrual cycle involves much more than just your period. In fact, it comprises four different phases, each bringing with it fun (and sometimes not-so-fun) hormonal changes and symptoms. If we try to go against those natural ebbs and flows, things start to feel rough. For example, trying to be super productive during your period is so not the vibe because your body is craving downtime. That’s why understanding what’s happening at each stage of your cycle is so key in optimizing your life and maximizing your potential.
Below, we outlined the four stages of your cycle, detailed what happens during each stage, and included some tips on how to honor each phase holistically to keep you feeling like your best self no matter the day.
The four stages of a menstrual cycle
Stage 1: Menstruation phase
What’s happening: The first day you bleed marks day one of your menstrual cycle. Healthy periods typically last around three to seven days. Progesterone levels go down during this time, causing the uterine lining to shed (aka your period), and you’ll likely feel tired and low on energy.
How to honor this phase: This is a great time to brainstorm new ideas, slow down, and double down on self-care. In other words, pencil in a date with your Netflix queue and pop on a sheet mask if you’re feeling fancy. And if you have cramps, consider Rael’s Heating Patches your BFFs. They instantly warm up and help relax your muscles and offer relief.
Stage 2: Follicular phase
What’s happening: Once you’re done with your period, you go right into the follicular phase. Your body is preparing to release an egg during this phase, and estrogen and testosterone go up. This is great news because the new wave of hormones will boost your energy and your mood.
How to honor this phase: While the menstruation phase was all about resting and brainstorming, the follicular phase gives you the energy and motivation to start putting things into action. Use this phase to strategically plan things out and begin getting things done.
Stage 3: Ovulation phase
What’s happening: Next up is the ovulation phase, during which your ovaries release an egg in preparation for pregnancy. Estrogen and testosterone also go way up, so you’ll have even more energy during this phase.
How to honor this phase: Whether you’re trying to conceive or trying to avoid conceiving, knowing when exactly you’re ovulating is important and empowering. The good news is you don’t have to guess. At-home ovulation tests help predict your fertility window. We love Stix’s ovulation tests. They’re easy to use, 99% accurate, and approved by OBGYNs and the FDA. If the test is positive and you’re trying to get pregnant, celebrate this phase with a romantic date night with your significant other.
Stage 4: Luteal phase
What’s happening: Lastly comes the luteal phase. Your body is now preparing for your next period. Estrogen and testosterone levels go down, and progesterone goes up. PMS symptoms such as carb cravings, bloating, boob tenderness, headaches, and moodiness may kick in during this time.
How to honor this phase: Nourish your body by winding down, doing things that relax you (yoga, self-massage, mediation, etc.), and ticking things off your to do list so you’ll have more time to rest once your period starts. You’ll likely be feeling like you just can’t be bothered with anything right now, and that’s okay. Use this time to journal and assess what’s working and what’s not working in your life. Think of it as a checking in with yourself phase.
Truly understanding your cycle takes some time. Be gentle with yourself. We highly recommend keeping notes and tracking any symptoms and emotions that come up during your cycle. These notes will help you better understand your rhythm. Period tracking apps are also helpful for this. Once you’ve got a good understanding of your cycle, you can plan your life accordingly, which is incredibly empowering and will make things so much easier. For example, you’ll know to schedule high-energy tasks during your ovulation phase and avoid committing to important events during your luteal phase as you may be in a funky mood. Getting to know your cycle is the key to a happy and efficient you.