“Women are actually not informed about what their hormones are doing and how that correlates to their moods and overall wellbeing,” said Karla Vitrone, the cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of Moody, a female-led tech company that helps women connect with and support their mood and hormone cycle.
According to Vitrone, women are misinformed in thinking that your cycle is something that puts you out of operation and on the couch. Instead, it’s a monthly hormonal process that can be used to optimize a work schedule.
“What we’re encouraging women to do is not only to just observe [their hormones] and get in touch with them but to actually harness them,” Vitrone said.
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Here’s how Moody breaks up the four phases of menstruation, and Vitrone’s advice on how to use the perks in each to live your best life.
Bleed (Average lasts 3-7 days)
“When you get your period, it’s actually an incredible sense of relief,” Vitrone said. “It’s almost like New Year’s Day…you’ve come through a cycle…you feel renewed and you’re looking forward.”
As a result, Vitrone pinpoints the Bleed phase as a great time to create your to-do list. Forget what the calendar says, this is the start of your month. As a result, you should reflect on last month and think about highs and lows. Ask yourself what you can learn and do differently this month.
Your estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest point in your cycle during menstruation, causing many women to feel low energy, reduced mental speed, and struggle with memory.
It’s during this time that you should think about your different phases (which you’ll learn about) and ask yourself how you can optimize your schedule.
“As soon as you start tapping in, you really do get this sense of a fresh start…that’s something that’s so misconstrued about periods.”
During this time you may feel antisocial, but that’s actually extremely normal.
“That’s literally because we used to go and hide in caves and bleed,” Vitrone said. “We’ve evolved a lot, but biologically we still get that craving to be quite introspective.”
It’s because of this natural tendency that Vitrone recommends not over-booking yourself during this phase. It’s a good idea to save dinners, big meetings and social outings for the next phase.
Rise aka Follicular phase (average lasts 16 days)
The follicular phase starts on the first day of menstruation and ends on the first day of ovulation, so this is the time that your body is preparing to ovulate. Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are all on the rise and are actually at optimal levels.
“You’re feeling great, you’re looking great, you’re feeling incredibly outgoing, you’re very sociable,” Vitrone said. “It’s literally the time that we are looking for a mate, biologically speaking…so we really are at the top of our game.”
These optimal levels make us feel great and make the Rise phase a great time to get big, complicated tasks crossed off that to-do list you made.
This phase is great for any task that requires being your best self. Client dinners, big meetings, and networking events should all be planned for this phase. Additionally, if you’re looking to ask for a pay raise or pitch a new idea, this is the time to do it.
Due to all this extra energy, some women report trouble falling asleep or heightened anxiety. Vitrone recommends not planning big meetings for early mornings, cutting back on caffeine, and avoiding foods with high estrogen levels, such as flax and soy products.
“When this is all a part of a lifestyle…it’s most effective,” Vitrone said. “So obviously applying it to your career and your work is huge, but also making sure that you’re also eating and exercising in the right way to get the full effects of it.”
Shift aka Luteal phase (average lasts 14 days)
After ovulation, your peaking estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels all abruptly shift and decline before they increase more gradually.
The peaking and falling of hormones can majorly affect your mood, causing extreme emotional and physical swings, both the highs and lows. You’ll most likely experience a peak in memory and alertness, followed by a drop in energy. Don’t be alarmed, this is just your hormones at play. Accomplish your more complex tasks at the beginning of this phase while you’re still alert and focused.
Many women also experience increased creativity in the Luteal phase, according to Vitrone, which make it a great time for writing or art-related projects.
Reflect phase (average lasts 14 days)
During Reflect your progesterone peaks before lowering with your estrogen levels. The lowering of hormones usually results in the onset of PMS symptoms such as sleepiness and volatile mood changes.
Vitrone recommends taking on shorter, more easily accomplished tasks, taking more self-care breaks and not scheduling any meetings that could test your patience.
Despite the negative effects of PMS during the Reflect phase, Vitrone notes that the peak in progesterone also acts as a sort of sedative.
“You feel really calm and it’s when you sleep your deepest,” Vitrone said. “Around that phase, so about 10 days before my period, I get a lot of early nights in.”
Scheduling time to get great nights sleep during this phase will set you up for success during the Reflect phase.