Luteal Phase / Everything you need to know to prevent PMS!
Did you know that we have four phases that makeup our entire menstrual cycle? There are major shifts going on in our hormones throughout our 26-32 day cycle and therefore our mood, energy, metabolism, creativity, sleep, social skills, etc., as well.
The luteal phase is the 10-24 days after you have ovulated and right before your period. Unfortunately, this is the notorious PMS-phase for many menstruators - for over 80% of us that is. Why is PMS common, but not healthy, during this phase you may ask? This would be due to the dramatic downshifts in our hormones during this phase and, if not living cyclically during your follicular and ovulatory phases, can wreak havoc on your hormones during the luteal phase.
My tips for combatting PMS are through a bio-individualized approach to nutrition, lifestyle, herbal medicine, and targeted functional supplements. Check our my herbal supplement, Soothe, here to combat your worst PMS! It’s literally a huge in a bottle.
The luteal phase is also known as our inner autumn, since we menstruators cycle with the moon and seasons (or at least we use to be back in our primal days). This is a time where we are winding down, .going inward, and getting prepared for our period, our inner winter.
Energy & Mood
The first half of our luteal phase may feel energetic due to the hormone surges during ovulation. Mid-luteal phase, we experience another spike in estrogen which may give us another natural boost of energy. Progesterone level should be on the rise and the dominant hormone during this phase. If progesterone levels are optimal, you should feel calmer and experience restful sleep. I experience very vivid dreams during this phase as well, it's pretty fun! As we approach our period, it is very healthy to experience lower energy levels as this is a sign that are hormones are flowing as they should be and lowering so that we may shed our endometrium (uterine lining) which triggers our period bleed.
Due to the dramatic shifts in hormones and therefore in our mood and energy, it's totally OK if you are not feeling the most energetic and sexy for sex. In other words, a lack of libido can be totally normal and healthy. Also, it's time that we change our perception of sex. Sex does NOT mean penetration only. Any type of touch, play, and pleasure is sex and should be done when both you and your partner desire it. Sometimes cuddles are the best during this phase. Other times, it's just laying back and being pleasured like the QUEEN you are by your partner. Be open and honest with your erotic desires during this time with both yourself and with your partner.
Studies shoe that menstruators need, on average, about 10% more calories during this phase due to lower energy, higher resting cortisol rates, and overall increased bodily demands. This is NOT the phase to experiment with extended fasting (which I am not a fan of 99% of the time) or with any form of functional medicine detox - save those for your follicular phase. Focus on plant-based foods, full of nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals to help your liver and major detoxification pathways function optimally. Complex carbs, nourishing fats, vegan proteins, 2 C organic fruits and 5-7 C organic vegetables every day. Make sure to eat foods high in iron and magnesium especially. Need more guidance when it comes to eating for your cycle? Check our my Hormone Harmony E-book here.
Menstruators recover from exercise inflammation slower during this phase. This, coupled with other metabolic and adrenal reasons, is why we should refrain from HIIT and cardio during this phase. I advocate for moving your body in a slower, more intuitive manner such as yoga, pilates, barre, body-weight strength, and walks. Make sure to move your body as women who workout properly for this phase experience less PMS and shorter periods. It is important to note that women who overdo it with exercise during this phase experience more PMS and fat storage.
Ready to learn something SO cool about this phase that you have probably never been told before? During this phase, we are biologically programmed to want nurture our relationships. Think about it: if fertilization was successful during ovulation, and on the journey to having a child, we would desire all of the love and support from our "tribe". Studies show that one way we do this is by giving gifts. I believe that this totally has to do with your love language. For me, this is cooking nourishing meals for loved ones and giving homemade gifts usually.
To learn more about the luteal phase, listen to my podcast episode here!
Listen to these podcasts for more support: