Alisa Vitti, a women’s health expert and author, first coined the term “cycle-syncing” in her book WomanCode, referring to a practice where women sync their goals and behaviors to their menstrual cycles. According to Vitti, when one lives a “phase-based” lifestyle, they work and flow in alignment with their hormones.
Women have four phases in their menstrual process, also called the moon cycle: menstruation, follicular, ovulation, and luteal. Similar to the moon’s 28-day cycle from new moon to new moon, a healthy menstruating woman will go from one bleed to the next in a 28-day cycle (although this can vary based on lifestyle factors). As a business coach and wellness expert, I work with ambitious and purpose-driven entrepreneurs all around the world, and one of the best pieces of advice I can ever share is for women to hack their own cycle and treat this rhythm as a gift. Not only do I find that it can this lead to more productive work hours and more orgasms (who doesn’t want that?), it can also prevent burnout and offer tools to cope or overcome pandemic fatigue.
“Cycle-syncing is a framework that empowers women to live their lives in a way that optimizes energy, productivity, happiness, relationships, and overall hormone balance,” says Stefanie Adler, holistic nutritionist, women’s health expert, and fertility coach, to TZR. “When women learn to live in alignment and harmonize with the natural ebbs and flows of their hormones over the course of the month — instead of fighting against it — there is less stress, anxiety, fatigue, and burnout, as well as less undesirable physical period symptoms, like PMS, bloating, period pain, and more.”
Berrion Berry, period educator and integrated health practitioner, says that honoring a phase-based cycle is a shift to a flow-based life as opposed to a force-based life. “The concept of cycle-syncing and the practice itself is really designed to prevent fatigue and burnout altogether,” says Berry to TZR. “It teaches people to lean into their natural rhythmic nature, which is cyclical rather than linear. Through practicing cycle-syncing, you can recover from chronic fatigue or burnout, but you can also avoid fatigue and burnout all together.”
Ahead, tips on how to properly sync your cycle to support your healthy headspace, sex drive, and productivity.
This is the part of your cycle most of society knows about, where the uterine lining is shedding and produces a bleed. Menstruation happens when a woman has not fertilized her egg and is not pregnant.
This is when I encourage my clients to work the least — I’m talking two to four hours a day, maybe even less. This is a time to rest, reflect, and ground oneself. The left and right side of the brain communicate more clearly during this phase. Ask yourself what in your day-to-day life is working and in alignment and what feels icky or not connected to your true self. This is also a brilliant time to have honest and raw conversations with your loved ones.
As a business mentor, I advise all ambitious women to be as gentle as possible with themselves during this time. This is the phase where it isn’t recommended to launch a new program or pitch a new idea, product, or service. Allow this to be a slower few days in your work with little to no speaking engagements, sales calls, lives streams, or big projects.
For many women this is when your sex drive is at the lowest. However, each woman and her cycle are different, so you may recognize that this is actually when you feel most aligned, aroused, and ready to have sex. Please note, this is the least fertile time in your cycle.
During menstruation, you must be gentle and take naps when your body asks for them. If you’re hustling too hard, it can lead to burnout and feeling overwhelmed. Your body is shedding its uterine lining, and an emotional release may also occur. Make sure to honor your body and move more into gentle stretching, yin yoga, and slow walks.
Alder shares that journaling can be really helpful during this time. She recommends the practice of morning pages to allow you to channel your heightened intuitive feelings and get them on to paper. Berry also encourages journaling and says, “There are two questions I suggest that people ask themselves every day before even getting out of bed: ‘How do I feel in my body, mind, and spirit?’ and ‘What do I need?’” She explains that asking these questions places you into a more intentional and aware headspace, which can be beneficial for those “dealing with the pandemic fatigue and burnout.”
The follicular phase begins when the bleed is complete. In this phase estrogen begins to rise and energy picks up. Your pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and the ovaries start to produce immature eggs. The body will then choose the healthiest and most mature egg for fertilization; all the other immature eggs will be reabsorbed back into the body.
This is the time when I encourage all my clients to dream really big and plan the month ahead. With this increased energy, it is easy to work an eight-hour day while staying connected to flow state and not feeling overwhelmed. This is the best time to schedule speaking engagements, pitches, big meetings, and when you should launch a program or new offer to your audience or team. This phase is perfect for strategic planning and mapping out your goals for the month ahead, scheduling meetings and social events in your Google calendar.
According to Adler, your cycle superpower during your follicular phase is focus. “You are clear-headed and energy is rising throughout this phase,” she says. “Channel this energy into focusing on clarity found during your bleed. This may be an external relationship, your career, or a project you’re seeking to birth into the world.”
Since energy is higher during this phase, your sex drive may naturally increase. Women are fertile during this time, and research suggests that semen can live up to five days in the crevices of the uterus. Near the middle to end of the follicular phase, your body is preparing for ovulation. At this time you may be extra-interested in self-pleasure practices or sex with your partner.
The follicular phase is a social time, so being present and connecting with those around you might come more naturally. With this increased energy, it is also an ideal time to find yourself a coach, therapist, or mentor that can help you reach your desired feeling-state and goals in alignment. During this phase, rigorous workouts like running, power yoga, and weight training may feel good in your body.
Barry shares, “I also think it is vitally important to nurture those relationships in your life that mean the most to you [during the follicular phase]. During your menstrual phase, you’re really focusing on nurturing your internal world. Once you’re in the post-menstrual and follicular phase, I think it’s perfectly OK to focus your attention on your external world, but more specifically those relationships that are really closest to you.”
Ovulation is when magic happens. Estrogen levels increase, and there is a spike of testosterone. This is when women typically have the most energy and are up for anything. The egg is released, travels down the fallopian tubes, and is sitting in the uterus waiting to be fertilized by semen. Naturally with these increased hormones, our hair may appear extra oily and skin extra shiny.
I find that women can typically work eight- to 12-hour workdays and still have energy for a high intensity workout and social gathering. This is when I encourage my clients to launch their programs, take sales calls, speak on stages or virtually, and network. If you are asking your boss for a raise or pitching a new idea to your team, this is the time to do it. With this increased energy, tasks that may feel draining, like organizing your budget or paying taxes, may feel easier to do and quicker to accomplish.
Additionally, according to Adler, “you are most likely to be well-received during this time due to your increased articulation skills, and natural pheromones. Scheduling your presentations, hard conversations, important dates, or anything else you want to go into feeling most confident during this phase is the best way to optimize ovulation to help you achieve your goals.”
With the rise in testosterone, excitement and arousal may occur naturally. This is the best time in your cycle to attempt conception. This is when women are most fertile. Psychology Today suggests that women can experience a stronger climax mid-cycle. If you have a partner, now’s the best time to go on dates and have special time allotted for connection. If you’re dating, the ovulation phase is great for going on first dates, trying something outside of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there. This is also a wonderful time for self-pleasure and self-enjoyment.
Since this is a naturally more energetic phase, it is encouraged to make plans, be social, and try something new like a new workout class or course, says Barry. “Taking aligned and inspired action during your ovulatory phase is the most natural thing you can do based off of the biology, but also based on how you’re feeling spiritually, mentally, and emotionally,” she explains. This is a natural increase in hormones and a wonderful time to be present with the external world.
As estrogen and testosterone decrease, progesterone begins to rise. This is the nesting phase, and naturally your energy will slow down and prepare for your bleed. If the egg was fertilized with semen, then the fertilized egg will begin to plant itself in the uterus to grow a baby. If the egg is not fertilized, then the uterine lining begins to thicken, preparing for the shedding/bleed (picture the taking down of the wallpaper).
In the beginning of the luteal phase, higher intensity workouts may feel comfortable, and as you approach your bleed, consider some lighter hiking, yoga, and balancing practices. Since energy is beginning to slow in the second half of the luteal phase, I often encourage highly ambitious and busy women to work less if possible, ideally four to six hours a day, and to listen inward. This is the best time to look at the goals created during the follicular phase, see what went right, and course correct. This is when I advise women to audit some of their email campaigns, sales funnels, book proposals, and general written content. The ability to have clear attention to detail is highlighted during this phase.
Adler explains that the luteal phase is a time that epitomizes the “chicken and the egg” parody. “Progesterone production is crucial for helping prevent insomnia and anxiety during this phase, as well as preventing PMS symptoms,” she says. “However stress prevents progesterone production, and your body is slightly more inclined to make cortisol (stress hormones) as a biological mechanism to keep the potential embryo safe. So you have to be very intentional about making time for self-care, and reducing stress during this phase. I encourage clients to fully honor this phase by not overscheduling and having clear boundaries with their time.”
In the nesting phase, you may feel more cuddly and desire to snuggle up with another person, pet, or yourself. Since progesterone is the key player during this phase, sex drive may be a little lower than the other phases, yet that connection and cuddling can lead to more intimate foreplay.
Barry shares, “When it comes to practices, rituals, and techniques during your luteal phase, I think it’s so important to truly relax. In your early luteal phase you are still feeling the hormonal and energetic high of ovulation, so you still want to tend to relationships in your life.” Later in the luteal phase, your attention can turn inward and focus more on self-connection and reflection.
I find attention to detail to be high during the luteal phase. I typically like to organize my grocery list, wash my laundry, and organize my space to prepare for my bleed. This is also a wonderful time to have deep breakthrough sessions with your coach, therapist, or guide. Epiphanies may pop through more clearly.
Take a moment to note where you are in your cycle right now and how you feel. The goal of cycle-syncing is to live connected to what feels in alignment with you and your energy levels. Burnout is a result of not listening to your inner wisdom, responding instead of being still, and living out of alignment.