Blog

Your Menstrual Cycle is More Than Just a Period

Many of us think of the bleeding ‘time of the month’ when we refer to the menstrual cycle. However, this stage only represents a few days of our menstrual cycle and, as the name hints, our menstrual cycle is a repetitive flow for fertile bleeding bodies that includes three other phases in addition to the period.

Key Hormones in the Menstrual Cycle Discussed Below:

Estradiol – The primary form of estrogen (the famous female hormone) that is produced in the body during reproductive years. Estrone is the form dominant in menopause, and estriol is the type of estrogen seen during pregnancy.

Progesterone – A sedative hormone that becomes dominant in our reproductive systems post ovulation. Progesterone serves to strengthen the uterine lining in case conception has occurred.

~ The Period ~

The period is the start of the menstrual cycle. In the first day of the period, the hormone estradiol is at its lowest, and with typical heavier bleeding, we tend to feel more fatigued and have our peak pain, if we experience any, on this day. The best step you can take on the start day of your period is to listen to your body. Changing your clothes, enjoying extra sleep, running or walking, being in nature, yoga, working from home, and soothing inflammation with a warm cup of ginger tea, are all ways that you can feel more comfortable with your body during your period. If making space for your body is bothersome or difficult for you, pre-period nourishment, such as eating Chica, is the key to finding freedom from your monthly complaints, whether they be inflammation, cramping, or fatigue. We will discuss this more when we reach the luteal phase.

~ Follicular Phase ~

With the completion of bleeding, we enter our Follicular phase. We often feel more energized at the end of the period because, surprise, we’re supposed to. Our estrodial levels increase as our bleeding decreases, helping us feel more alert, energized, and uplifted. While your body is working on the project of rebuilding your uterine lining, you may feel more motivated to dedicate serious work time to projects in your own life. The good news is our Follicular phase lasts 12-15 days, and we can harness this time to complete work projects, launch new ideas, push limits in training, or have a fun night out.

~ Ovulation Phase ~

At the end of the Follicular phase, we enter Ovulation, which is when the egg is released. For many menstruators, this is their only opportunity to become pregnant each cycle. Michelle Obama even shouts out her ovulation window in Becoming when she recounts Barack speeding home from the state senate to make her ovulation window while they were trying to conceive. How romantic! Other folks are fertile for days before ovulation (i.e., the sperm will survive long enough to wait for the egg), for the 1-3 days of ovulation, and 24 hours after the egg is released, before it dissolves. Ovulation is what birth control pills stop. If you are experiencing a menstrual cycle free from hormonal birth control, ovulation can feel so much fun. Since we are fertile, we feel more horny and our energy hits maximum along with both our estradiol and testosterone hormone levels. Even if you’re not attracted to having any sperm involved in your sexy time, you will feel horny and flirtatious with any partner you desire, including yourself.

If you are never interested in conceiving or cannot conceive, we understand that it can feel annoying for period conversations to be focused on conception. While periods do serve a biological function, you can simply use the ovulation period as a key marker in your menstrual cycle. In your pre-ovulatory phase estradiol dominates with the benefit of higher energy, while your post-ovulatory phase features more progesterone with energy levels that are more introverted and sensitive.

~ Luteal Phase ~

When the egg dissolves, estradiol will plummet, while progesterone increases, entering the Luteal phase. The Luteal phase lasts 11-16 days, and while the energy dip that comes along with progesterone can feel frustrating, this is an ideal time to listen to your body. Taking care of your body while you are luteal is key to feeling good both during your Luteal phase, and during your period. Despite societal PMS-shaming, your hormones cannot force you to perform poorly during your Luteal phase. For example(1), the US Women’s Soccer team closely tracked their menstrual cycle phases during this most recent World Cup, and made sure to focus on their nourishment and sleep during their luteal phases. Some trainers attribute this tracking as an important part of the US Women’s success. Case in point, Rose Lavelle scored a goal in the World Cup finals, and the next day she started her period! #imluteal.

Enjoy our next blog post to learn about what you can do during your luteal phase to help you feel better in the moment, and during your period.

Image: María Medem

Poria

Fungus & Root

Scierotium Poriae Cocos / Fu Ling / 茯苓 Scierotium Pararadicis Poriae Cocos / Fu Shen / 茯神

Poria calms the heart and soothes nerves, helping with anxiety and insomnia. Additionally, Poria drains dampness, an excess of moisture that the body collects in the wrong places and makes us feel heavy and fatigued (hello moodiness).

Chinese Salvia

Root

Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae / Dan Shen / 丹參

Salvia root nourishes the blood and heart, and calms the spirit. Salvia works with Schisandra and Zizyphus in Chica Chill to help relieve insomnia.

Rehmannia

Root

Radix Rehmanniae Preparata / Sheng Di Huang / 熟地黄

Rehmannia root is your Yin nourisher, supporting calm and cold in your system. With its additional ability to help cool blood, increase fluids, and clear heart fire; Rehmannia is a star herb for soothing and preventing heat flashes.

Polygala / Thin-Leaf Milkwort

Root

Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae / Yuan Zhi / 元志

Polygala root nourishes the Heart, and helps soothe nerves and restlessness.

Schisandra / Chinese Magnolia

Berry

Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis / Wu Wei Zi / 五味子

Schisandra berry is famous for featuring all five flavors of Traditional Chinese Medicine: bitter, sweet, salty, sour, hot. This means that Schisandra is completely energetically balanced, promoting overall health and vitality. Schisandra helps relieve night sweats, insomnia, and hormonal imbalances. Schisandra is also rich in antioxidants that are thought to protect from free radicals and other toxins in the environment that may cause cellular damage. 

Platycodon / Balloon Flower

Root

Radix Platycodi / Jie Geng / 桔梗

Platycodon root is a neutral balancing herb, meaning it is not especially Yin or Yang. Platycodon is nourishing for the lungs, which in TCM, is the organ that supports Qi and fluid flow throughout the body.

Scrophularia / Figwort

Root

Radix Scrophulariae / Xuan Shen / 玄參

Scrophularia root nourishes Yin, drains fire, and cools the blood. Scrophularia is particularly soothing for irritability.

Ophiopogon / Dwarf Lilyturf

Tuber

Tuber Ophiopogonis Japonici / Mai Men Dong / 麦门冬

Ophiopogon tuber works with Asparagus to nourish Yin and clear heat throughout the system. These plants also provide moisture and relieve restlessness.

Stemona

Root

Radix Stemonae / Bai Bu / 百部

Stemona root is a balancing herb in the Chica Chill formula. Stemona is nourishing for the lungs, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is the organ that supports Qi and fluid flow throughout the body.

Licorice

Root

Radix Glycyrrhizae / Gan Cao / 甘草

Licorice acts as a unifier, balancing the formula and amplifying the properties of the other herbs.

Zizyphus / Sour Jujube

Seed

Semen Zizyphi Spinosae / Suan Zao Ren / 酸枣仁

Zizyphus seed nourishes the heart and calms the spirit. Zizyphus helps relieve insomnia, irritability, and anxiety.

Ginseng

Root

Radix Ginseng / Ren Shen / 人参

Ginseng root, one of the most famous herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is known for its ability to strengthen Qi and support life vitality. Ginseng nourishes the Heart and calms the spirit, helping reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Acorus / Grassleaf Sweetflag

Rhizome

Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii / Shi Chang Pu / 石菖蒲

Acorus helps relieve internal heat and is a favorite herb for reducing frequent insomnia.

Eucommia / Chinese Rubber Tree

Bark

Cortex Eucommiae Ulmoidis / Du Zhong / 杜仲

Eucommia bark balances the Chica Chill formula by offering Yang properties. Eucommia is also nourishing for the heart, and has been featured in research in Western medicine for its ability to help lower blood pressure.

Angelica / Dong Quai

Root

Radix Angelicae Sinensis / Dong Quai / 当归

Angelica root is sometimes described as the “female ginseng,” due to its fame for supporting a healthy and regular menstrual cycle. Angelica root strengthens blood and energizes circulation. In Chica Chill, Angelica root balances the herbal formula with its Yang properties.

Biota / Arborvitae

Seed

Semen Platycladi / Bai Zi Ren / 柏子仁

Biota seed benefits memory and promotes restful sleep by nourishing the heart and calming the spirit.

Chinese Asparagus

Tuber

Tuber Asparagi Cochinensis / Tian Men Dong / 天门冬

Asparagus root works with Ophiopogon to nourish Yin and clear heat throughout the system. These plants also provide moisture and relieve restlessness.