If you know me at all, you know that my mission is to empower women. And I can’t think of a better way to help you tap into your physical and emotional potential than by giving you a simple guide to your menstrual cycle, plus (of course) the essential oils to support each phase.
There are four phases to your menstrual cycle – menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. Each phase can feel wildly different, even though most women only pay attention to the parts of their cycle that feel painful or difficult. Well, it’s time to flip that script and take back your power!
In this article, we’ll explore each phase, the hormones behind it, and how to best support your body physically and emotionally during these very different times of the month.
How your period works
About every 28 days, your body undergoes the process of growing a uterine lining called an endometrium. Your endometrium thickens each month in preparation for a fertilized egg. If that egg gets fertilized – you’re having a baby! If the egg isn’t fertilized, that uterine lining sheds and results in that familiar time of the month – your period.
The onset of bleeding marks day 1 of your cycle, and we generally count from there. So, midway through your cycle is day 14-15, and the last day of your cycle (before you start bleeding again) is usually day 28.
The power of working with your cycle
There’s so much power in knowing each phase of your cycle and what you can expect physically and emotionally from each week. Many women are ashamed of certain parts of their cycles – namely, the premenstrual or PMS phase when many of us become more sensitive and the physical symptoms of menstruation like headaches, muscle pain, and cramping take hold.
But your body and your moods aren’t anything to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s time to be in awe of our bodies, ladies. Your body and your hormones aren’t something to fight against or be mad at. Instead, begin to listen to your body and work with the different phases of your cycle so you can thrive in your career, with your partner, your kids, and save your sanity, no matter what time of the month it is.
How to navigate the four phases of your menstrual cycle
As we journey through each phase of your cycle, it’s important to keep in mind that every cycle is different.
Plenty of perfectly healthy women have periods of different lengths and experience different energy levels and symptoms throughout. Your moods and symptoms may even fluctuate month to month or throughout your life.
If your cycle doesn’t match perfectly with the phases I outline below, don’t worry! Hormone cycles look different for everyone. If you feel like you have cause for concern, talk with your doctor about what “normal” should look like for you.
Phase 1: Menstruation: Days 1-7
Day 1 of your cycle marks the first day you start bleeding and usually lasts anywhere from 3-7 days. Hormone-wise, your progesterone just took a nosedive to its lowest point. Day 1 also marks your lowest levels of estrogen and testosterone.
Low sex hormones can result in painful cramping due to the contractions of your uterus as it sheds, plus fatigue, brain fog, and low libido from tanked estrogen and testosterone. Lower productivity, confidence, and mood swings are also common during this time.
However, help is on the way. Estrogen will begin to increase again and continue its slow rise throughout the follicular phase. More estrogen will mean some relief from these exhausting symptoms.
How to thrive during phase 1
It’s important to be gentle with yourself during the first few days of your period. Here are a few ways to thrive during days 1-7 of your cycle:
- Save the heavy workouts for another time and focus on a brisk walk outside or a restorative yoga class.
- Replenish your iron stores with iron-rich foods like shellfish, spinach, organ meats like grass-fed liver, red meat, and pumpkin seeds. This is especially important for heavy bleeders.
- Avoid as many stressful activities as possible. Maybe you can’t splurge on a spa vacation for 3-7 days every month, but you can avoid strenuous workouts, fill your fridge with nutrient-dense food, and pamper yourself with mini spa treatments once you finish work for the day.
- If you’re partnered up, don’t be shy about asking for help or at least some compassion during this time!
Essential oils for phase I
Clary sage is one of my favorite essential oils for the first days of menstruation. It’s one of the most relaxing, soothing, and balancing oils I own.
Apply Clary Sage topically to your abdomen, hips, and bottoms of your feet to help relieve uterine cramping or combine with Roman Chamomile in a soothing bath.
Tanked sex hormones mean it may be harder than usual to get basic tasks done. Instant Energy is my favorite blend for a quick pick-me-up, especially when you’re working through the fatigue and pain of phase 1:
INSTANT ENERGY BLEND
1 drop Wild Orange essential oil
1 drop Peppermint essential oil
Apply the essential oils to your palms. Rub your palms together and breathe in the aroma of the blend with 3 to 5 deep belly breaths.
Phase 2: Follicular: Days 1-13
Your follicular phase also starts on day 1 of your cycle and lasts until about day 13 or until ovulation. Your hormones can change a lot during this phase, with low estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone during the first few days, and a gradual increase of these sex hormones as your cycle moves toward day 14.
During this time, your body begins to prepare for the potential of pregnancy by pumping out a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH stimulates the eggs in your ovaries to grow, and rising estrogen thickens the endometrium.
As estrogen and testosterone rise during this phase, you’ll start to feel like yourself again, with an increase in energy, brain function, and mood. Your libido is back online after the draining week before your period, and you’re starting to feel like yourself again.
How to thrive during phase 2
As your sex hormones start to increase, you’ll begin to get your energy and drive back. Here are a few ways to thrive during your follicular phase:
- Schedule big meetings and put those networking and social events back on your calendar. It’s also an excellent time for speaking gigs and other public appearances.
- You’re beginning to feel energetic and sexy again. Bust out your favorite outfits and plan some date nights during this time.
- Rising estrogen and testosterone mean you handle more strenuous workouts. However, make sure to wait a few days into your period before you try that CrossFit class and make sure you’re eating plenty of iron-rich foods.
- As the follicular phase gets going, you not only feel good, you look good! Higher estrogen levels can actually thicken your skin, which means fewer wrinkles and better firmness and elasticity. Some researchers also report better facial symmetry during this time of the month. Own it, girl! Get out for a night on the town or schedule that photo shoot you’ve been thinking about.
Essential oils for phase 2
When you’re burning the candle at both ends, it’s important to take some time at the end of the day to get centered and connected to yourself.
This is the time of the month when you’re pushing it – because you can! You have the energy, the stamina, and you’re getting it, girl!
Basil is a beautiful oil to use this time of the month to promote clarity and maintain an open mind. You can also combine Basil and Peppermint with coconut oil for a cooling post-workout massage oil.
Basil promotes mental alertness and can even lessen anxious feelings. Apply a drop or two to your temples and the back of your neck to reduce tension after a long day.
You can also diffuse basil along with Wild Orange, Bergamot, and Lavender to help soothe your nervous system and promote feelings of calmness and relaxation.
Phase 3: Ovulation: Day 14
Ovulation is such a crucial part of your cycle, but one that many women don’t even notice! Around day 14 or so, your pituitary gland secretes a hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH) that causes the ovary to release the matured egg cell. It then travels through the fallopian tube where it stays for about 24 hours waiting for fertilization.
While I have had some patients who experience dips in energy during ovulation, most women are at their most powerful, energetic, and sexy around this time.
The ovulatory phase is your body’s last-ditch efforts at babymaking, after all, so you’ll likely feel fit, confident, and communicative.
How to thrive during phase 3
Powerful sex hormones are peaking, so get ready to take advantage of all that energy! Here are a few ways to thrive during ovulation:
- Again, this is a great time to socialize, attend networking events, and plan date nights.
- With your energy at an all-time high, you can take all those hardcore workout classes you’ve had your eye on as well. You’ll have plenty of energy left over. 😉
- Your confidence is through the roof, making this a great time to try something new.
Essential oils for phase 3
Whether you’re in a relationship or not, your body is in babymaking mode. Stoke those fires with this sensual Passion Perfume Blend. It doesn’t matter if you have a partner or not – feeling sexy and desired will make your hormones happy!
This aphrodisiac oil smells incredible. It also helps balance your nervous system and works on an emotional level to relax the senses, producing a feeling of optimism and euphoria.
PASSION PERFUME BLEND
10 drops Sandalwood essential oil
10 drops Ylang-Ylang essential oil
8 drops Cinnamon essential oil
4 drops Jasmine, or Neroli essential oil
2 teaspoons carrier oil of choice
Add essential oils to a 10 ml rollerball bottle and top off the blend with a carrier oil of your choice. Apply to the back of the neck, spine, wrists, temples, and bottom of your feet. You can also make this into a sensuous massage oil.
Phase 4: Luteal Phase: Days 15-28
Ah, the Luteal Phase. The phase that’s famous for making women spicy and when PMS symptoms like mood fluctuations, cramping, headaches, and muscle pain can rear their ugly heads.
Your luteal phase starts on day 15 of your cycle or right after ovulation when your body gets the memo that a baby isn’t happening.
Progesterone increases around this time to prepare your body for pregnancy but starts a steady decline along with estrogen, testosterone, FSH, and LH until day 1 of your period.
For the first half of your luteal phase, you’re usually feeling pretty good. Estrogen hasn’t tanked yet and progesterone remains steady. It’s during that last week before your period that estrogen tanks and those tell-tale signs of PMS start to pop up.
How to thrive during phase 4
Premenstrual symptoms vary from woman to woman, but most of us will want to clear the calendar and settle in for some Netflix and snacks. Here are a few ways to thrive during your follicular phase:
- Energy is starting to dip, so time to replace heavier workouts with some yoga flows or light cardio.
- Same goes for your social life. Replace big events and date nights with cozy plans at home. While most women report feeling fatigued during this time of the month, it’s also a great time to flex your creative muscles. Journal, draw, or start that knitting project you’ve had your eye on!
- It’s common to experience cravings during this time of the month, especially for carbohydrate-rich foods. Feel free to indulge a little, while also drinking plenty of water and getting a ton of nutrient-rich veg.
- You’re much more likely to feel pain during the last days before you start bleeding. That’s because of a rise in prostaglandins, which are usually the cause of premenstrual-related headaches, neck aches, backaches and all around pain. Take time for luxurious baths, hot water bottles, and rest.
Essential oils for phase 4
There’s a lot going on during this phase, with tanking energy levels, lower libido, and some major carb cravings. But the one blend I always recommend to my patients during this time is Sleep Support.
All of your symptoms will intensify if you’re not getting adequate sleep. This blend is ideal to add to a diffuser for 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed to unwind and ground.
BEDTIME DIFFUSER BLEND
2 drops Clary Sage essential oil
2 drops Cedarwood essential oil
2 drops Bergamot essential oil
Add essential oils drops to a cold diffuser with water. If using a cool-air nebulizing diffuser, multiply this blend by 10 in a 15-milliliter glass bottle and run for 30 minutes to 1 hour before going to bed.
When those tell-tale signs of PMS start to pop up, it’s time to grab your Hormone Synergy blend. This blend is ideal for balancing mood, energy, cravings and overwhelm.
HORMONE SYNERGY BLEND
10 drops Clary Sage essential oil
10 drops Lavender essential oil
8 drops Geranium essential oil
4 drops Bergamot essential oil
4 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil
2 teaspoons carrier oil of choice
Place the number of drops, per recipe, in a 10 mL rollerball and then fill to the top with your carrier oil of choice (fractionated coconut oil, or almond oil). Roll the blends over your ovaries pulse points: neck, ankles, and wrists 2-3 times per day.
Getting to know your unique cycle is such an insightful journey. If this resonated with you, that’s amazing – I’m so glad. If you read this and thought, “this isn’t how my cycle feels at all,” then that could be a sign of hormone imbalance.
Not to worry! A huge part of what I do includes helping women get their hormones back on track using real, whole foods, lifestyle changes, and (of course) targeted essential oil blends and rituals.
If that sounds like you, check out this free guide to balancing your hormones with essential oils. It includes my 5 favorite essential oil recipes for balancing your hormones naturally.
Still, have questions? I’m here for you. Contact me and we can figure out a plan!
If you want to set up a personal wellness consultation to discuss your health needs and which essential oils I recommend, click below: