So we’ve reached the final part of our Cycle School series - and the final phase of the menstrual cycle - the luteal phase. This is the time between ovulation and your next period and is sometimes known as your inner Autumn - but you may know it as your pre-menstrual time.
The luteal phase gets a bad reputation and many of us associate it with a host of PMS symptoms. But the truth is that if you know how to support yourself hormonally and live cyclically, the luteal phase can actually be a lovely time of your cycle, where you learn to prioritise your needs.
Here we’ll explain exactly what’s going on in your body during your luteal phase, and share some advice on how you can make PMS less intense.
- We tend to be more risk-averse during our luteal phase. That’s because when we are progesterone dominant, our body thinks we might be pregnant - and wants to keep us extra safe!
- Progesterone also makes your body temperature rise, which is why you might feel hot during the night or feel more exhausted after workouts.
- Towards the end of our luteal phase, our progesterone levels drop (and our oestrogen too) and this is what triggers our next period.
- These hormonal fluctuations can be what causes PMS symptoms like mood swings, sore boobs and cramping
The Science of Your Luteal Phase
After ovulation, your body essentially thinks you could be pregnant. The newly released egg (now known as the corpus luteum) will start to produce the hormone progesterone - and the main job of progesterone is to support early pregnancy.
After a week or so the egg and the follicle will break down - signalling to the body that there is no baby and that the womb lining is not needed aka it’s time for your period to start.
Once the egg breaks down your progesterone and oestrogen levels will take a dip. This is what triggers your next bleed and can also cause PMS symptoms if the dip is too dramatic.
How you might feel around ovulation
In your luteal phase, progesterone is the dominant hormone. If Oestrogen is the Beyonce of the hormone world, progesterone is more of a Billie Eilish. Introverted, yet straight talking and slightly lower energy.
During this time - when we are progesterone dominant - we might feel more insular, more sensitive and more easily overwhelmed. That’s probably because until our period arrives, our body thinks there’s a chance we could be pregnant - so it wants to keep us safe, calm and risk avoidant!
We deal with a few hormonal ups and downs during our luteal phase - the initial drop of oestrogen after ovulation and then the drop of both progesterone and oestrogen before our period arrives.
These hormonal fluctuations can trigger mood swings and PMS symptoms like bloating or skin breakouts - and if you’re a little more sensitive than usual, that’s ok.
However, extreme drops in mood or feelings of anxiety or depression could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance or PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder) - and is worth talking to a doctor about.
Self Care In Your Luteal Phase
Self care is especially important at this phase of your cycle. The anxiety, stress (and occasional tears) we may associate with PMS usually happen when we push ourselves too far, physically and mentally, at a time our body wants to rest. Here’s some advice on nurturing your well-being during this time.
Exercise can definitely be really helpful during your luteal phase - it can boost your mood, relieve bloating and even help with PMS cramping, but remember to listen to your body - if you’re not feeling super energetic, don’t push yourself!
Around this time of your cycle, your body temperature naturally rises. You probably won’t notice it but it can mean you get hotter a lot faster when doing intense cardio - and this can make you feel exhausted faster too. You can definitely still do the exercise you love around this time, but just be aware that if your performance dips slightly, it’s likely down to your lower energy levels rather than your abilities!
We tend to be more hungry in our luteal phase and with good reason - our bodies are pretty busy!
Whilst you may get cravings for sugary or fried foods, try to keep things balanced as these foods can trigger inflammation which could make period pain more intense once your bleed arrives.
A healthy diet rich in whole foods, specifically packed with vitamins B6, B12, D, and C and magnesium can help to manage PMS symptoms of irritability, anxiety and fatigue by keeping your hormones smooth and balanced. Reach for foods like dark leafy green, complex carbohydrates and oily fish like salmon - and if you do have sweet cravings dark chocolate is full of magnesium!
When it comes to drinking, if you find that alcohol impacts your mood (it is a depressant after all) it might be a good idea to swap your wine for a kombucha during this time. - so that’s plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.
If you are struggling with low mood in the lead-up to your period, be sure to do everything you can to support your mental well-being. Take it easy but be sure to make time for things that make you feel good - whether that’s catching up with a friend, reading your favourite book or simply cleaning the house so you can enjoy a calming environment.
In this phase of our cycle, we don’t tend to deal with overwhelm well - how can you slow the pace of life down? Are there things you can say no to or tasks you can ask for help with?
How Myoovi can help in your luteal phase
Our Myoovi Kit is perfect for relieving pre-menstrual cramping and its discreet wireless design means you can wear it wherever your Luteal phase takes you - whether you’re getting organised at home or venturing out to a yoga class.
If you struggle with other symptoms like bloating, low mood and fatigue we might have something that can help with that!
Click below to be one of the first people to hear about our exclusive new product launch for anyone wanting a smoother cycle, coming this Autumn!