We’re now on our third post all about the different stages of the menstrual cycle! This time we’re looking at your luteal phase, otherwise known as your inner autumn. We’re going into all the details of what to do while you’re in this phase of your cycle, so keep reading below!
We’re talking about every stage of your menstrual cycle, so don’t forget to check out our other posts on the follicular phase and the ovulation phase! Want even more details and advice on how to handle everything your period throws at you? Join the UM Club and check out our episode with Period Coach Sarah Starrs!
What is the Menstrual Cycle?
The menstrual cycle is the course that our bodies go through to get the body ready to be pregnant, resulting in our period if fertilization doesn’t occur. We tend to think of it as around 28 days, but everyone’s cycle is going to look different, and will probably change over time too. The menstrual cycle happens in four stages – the follicular phase, ovulation, the luteal phase, and menstruation. In this post, we’re going to be looking at the luteal phase!
What is the Luteal Phase?
Pre-Menstruation/The Luteal Phase – Inner Autumn and Waxing Moon
Next comes Pre-Menstruation or the luteal phase. There’s quite a sudden drop off of hormones after ovulation, so you can think of this like inner autumn, in that everything is being let go and ready for winter.
Pre-menstruation can be the stage that people have difficulty with sometimes, and can feel really low energy and irritable. There’s a real coming into the self and self-reflection, and a lot of emotions coming to the surface. Like the waxing moon, you’re starting to feel the effects of your period (at least the ones we tend to think of) more here, so you may feel irritable and more tired. Make sure you’re making more time for rest.
The Luteal Phase Explained
The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle means that our bodies are preparing to bleed (our next post on menstruation will be covering more about that), so we want to really be fueling our bodies. There’s so many things going on in our bodies during the luteal phase that we need to be focused on keeping happy and healthy. This means foods that are going to help our serotonin, and also be good for our skin – turns out we’re way more prone to breakouts during this phase. Some great mood-boosting luteal phase foods are going to be things like berries, nuts and seeds, and our personal favourite dark chocolate.
We also might be feeling little less sexual during this phase of our cycle (more on that below) but there’s lots we can do to combat that. Eating magnesium rich foods can help if our sex drive is a bit lower, or if we’re feeling extra tired. For this phase of your cycle, go for protein rich foods (like meats, eggs, and beans), food that will give you that good energy (like sunflower seeds and even dark chocolate), and healthy fats (like avocado). The luteal phase is going to be when we’re really experiencing those cravings too, so listen to your body but also keep this in mind while you’re grocery shopping.
As we’ve mentioned, some symptoms of the luteal phase are tiredness and just generally feeling drained, so it might not be the best time to be going for that personal record. Moving our bodies can really help us to feel better during any cramping or discomfort that might be showing up during our menstrual cycle, but don’t worry about pushing yourself to your limit.
Some great exercises for during the luteal phase are things like yoga and pilates, and really anything low impact. Long walks and hikes are also great options (and will give you a way out of the house if you’re finding people a little extra irritating).
While the previous two stages of our menstrual cycle were encouraging us to be social, the luteal phase is going to start doing the opposite. As our energy levels start to lessen as we get closer to menstruating, our social battery is going to need some recharging. If you’re still wanting to keep up your social life, opting for things like going to a movie or having a girl’s night might be more your speed – save the big parties for your follicular and ovulation phases if you can!
Some people find that their luteal phase symptoms make them extra tired and irritable, and that’s because the luteal phase is where you really start to feel any effects that might come from PMS. Since we’re going to be focusing more on ourselves in this phase, keep this in mind when you’re planning who you’re seeing. It might not be the best time to be making an effort with a new friend or trying to rekindle a different friendship. The luteal phase is all about setting boundaries and being with our true besties!
With lower energy levels and a tired social battery, this stage of your menstrual cycle might not be one where you’re jumping into bed so quickly (unless it’s for a nap). The luteal phase is a great time to bring out other things with your partner – maybe not going for the new trick you saw online, but going for a more intimate connection. You also might be feeling a little sore, so sensual massages are a great way to bring some spice in while also making sure you’re feeling your best.
However, one thing to know is that you’re not going to have any luteal phase symptoms when pregnant, so that could definitely impact your sex drive and energy levels! If you’re used to feeling a certain way during your luteal phase and suddenly don’t feel as tired as normal, you might want to check for pregnancy!
Feeling tired because of the luteal phase is probably going to mean we’ll need to be doing lower effort meals and playtime. Now’s the time to pull out those handy freezer meals, and maybe send the kids to someone else for a playdate.
The best thing to remember during the luteal phase is to be patient with yourself, especially when it comes to parenting. We’re all trying our best, and our kids will be just fine if they don’t get the big extravagant meal or the extra long park visit. Be patient with yourself and your kids, and you’ll make it through just fine!
Each stage of your menstrual cycle means something different for how you’re feeling and how much you want to do certain things. To help figure out which cycle of your period is best for what, we’re making an in-depth guide to all four phases of the menstrual cycle! Our last post in the series, covering everything about the menstrual phase, will be out soon!
If you’re loving our menstrual cycle series as much as we are, make sure to check out our other great posts on the follicular phase and the ovulation phase! Don’t forget to Join the UM Club to access our amazing episode with period coach Sarah Starrs and another great episode all about your period and menstrual health!