I’m on this self-afflicted mission to bettering my health and understanding my body – not in the Spencer Pratt circa 2014 who just discovered crystals kind of way. I’ve always been an advocate for a healthy and clean lifestyle, who prefers the natural approach over Western medications. But after some serious digestive struggles, gut problems, and exposure to scientific resources, I’m attempting to fuse these two avenues into healing myself now for a better future. Health Class is a series where I get to discuss my so-called health journey to help demystify the convoluted connotations surrounding wellness.
I decided to start with talking about the period; not the one that causes an end, but the one that indicates your beginning. Getting my period at the unripe age of 11 was my introduction to the concept of instability in health. I was the first to get boobs and the first to bleed – obviously, I was the coolest bitch in town. To me, it was a great excuse to skip out on swimming during gym class and a great ice-breaker. “Oh you got your period? I got mine 6 months ago.” Boss bitch, am I right. But once I entered high school, the glamour faded. I was, and still am, confounded by the complexities of my fallopian tubes. I remember learning the average menstruation cycle is 28 days in middle school, but my period tracking app tells me mine is 48.
No shocker there, at one point I used to get my period 4 -5 times a year. My family doctor told me to go on the pill, and even with my little knowledge, I knew it was just a band-aid solution. And although it’s common sense, I never figured my struggle with acne and major digestive issues during the high times of high school were directly related to and exacerbated by my underperforming period. Fast forward 13 years later and I’m finally doing something about it. I’ll be discussing how food and cyclic living can help balance your cycle in another post. Right now let’s focus on the 101: wtf is your period?
Your period technically is a four stage/week process that goes on monthly. Every week leading up to menstruation, your body fluctuates its hormones to best prepare for its red carpet arrival – literally. And as hormones regulate, influence, and control everything in order body, it’s important for us to know what the fuck is going on.
Stage 1: Menstruation – aka your period. Your uterine lining is shedding, your estrogen and progesterone levels have dropped, and your super low on energy. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for…you’re not pregnant. Sleep lots and eat well to nourish and comfort your body during this stage.
Stage 2: Follicular Phase – Here, your hormone levels slowly start to rise as the follicles that contain your eggs are stimulated. Right after menstruation, your pituitary gland releases the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which cause the follicles to mature as they prepare to ovulate. You start to feel your energy come back, and any random bouts of hyperness are usually a result of this. As you get an increase in estrogen, your metabolic rate rises, your skin is plumped, and you’re more focused. The influx of progesterone balances estrogen, regulates sleep and mood, and you will feel more motivated during this phase. Plus the surge of testosterone stimulates your libido – wink ladies.
Stage 3: Ovulation – It’s game time. The egg has matured enough to enter the ovulatory phase, when the egg is release from the follicle and into your ovary for 12-24 hours. Estrogen levels are at a high, your basal temperature goes up, and your energy is affected. This is when women and women is in their most zenith form, looking and feeling their best. But, it is important to flush out excess estrogen here, as it can lead to bloating, pain, and spotting. This is the highest point of the cycle and, fun fact, when men find them most attractive. When women are nearing their stage of ovulation, their face contours change, lips plump, pheromones are wildin’, and breasts become more perky.
Stage 4: Luteal Phase – I call this the torture phase, and it’s broken down into two parts. Around the first 3 days, estrogen and testosterone are low while your body is producing progesterone, which means you’re calm and tired. But as hormones are at their lowest point, the second part of luteal is a shit storm. Brace yourself for PMS symptoms, cravings, bloating, mood-swings, headaches, grogginess, etc.