FEWE CREW: Why understanding your cycle is essential to your wellness with Dr Ewoma

FEWE CREW: Why understanding your cycle is essential to your wellness with Dr Ewoma

12th November 2021

Hack your cycle and know when your skin, body and mind will be at their best

Truly understanding our cycle really is essential for a better understanding of our skin, body and overall well being. As our hormones fluctuate, increasing and decreasing at different phases throughout our cycle, these changes are reflected in our complexion, our mindset and our energy. Gaining a clearer insight into what is actually happening to our body at the various stages and hacking our cycle will open up new doors for discovery. 

It’s important not to instantly dismiss a bad day as a bad day; feeling low, having a breakout and a disturbed nights sleep can be indicators of a particular phase of our hormone cycle, in the same way, a really good day where we feel our very best self can be a reflection of another phases of it. 

Whilst our menstrual cycles are largely ignored by mainstream media, education and medical care, it’s time we start listening to our bodies and implementing little changes that will ultimately leave us feeling better and more supported. 

Celebrating the highs and lows of your cycle can look like; eating the right food, using the right skincare and taking the right breaks at the right time. Some of the key areas we can look to focus on to provide ourselves with the correct tools for adequate support are can extend to sleep, pain management, skincare, mood and vulva care. 

Being intuitive to our needs ultimately starts with a deeper understanding of each phase of our menstrual cycle. Information about our cycle rarely extends beyond our period but it’s important to know our cycle starts with the first day of our period and ends when the next period begins.  There are four phases every month of our uterine cycle; our menstruation phase, our preparation week, our ovulation week and our premenstrual week. Our ovarian cycle is split between our follicular phase, which lasts up until ovulation and our luteal phase. 

Each menstrual cycle starts with bleeding; the uterus lining is shed along with blood and other superfluous materials produced by the fertility process. Usually, a period lasts 5 or 6 days but can be as long as 8. When we are on our period, our body undergoes a lot of changes, our brain becomes more susceptible to pain so this is why we tend to hurt a lot more, we also have a higher emotional intuition as the brain is more hypersensitive.

During this time it’s important to slow down and treat yourself gently and kindly. It’s likely you’ll have a sweet tooth as our body attempts to replace lost iron so satisfy these cravings with something like high quality dark chocolate or dates rather than lots of refined sugar which can make you feel worse. It’s also a good time to start planning and thinking ahead due to our natural focus. 

In week 2, we are in our preparation week. Follicle stimulating hormone is released by the pituitary gland, signalling to our ovaries to prepare for an egg. During this week, you’ll look and feel your very best self, our hair is glossy and our skin is glowing. Our pain threshold is higher- making it the perfect time to get a bikini wax if that’s your thing. We are at our most driven and confident making this the best time to engage in more difficult monthly tasks. 

As we head into our ovulation week, we are also in our luteal phase which lasts from ovulation until the start of our next period. In week 3, our luteinising hormone and oestrogen peak and an egg is released once they have reached their highest level. These hormones then dip and progesterone rises. In this phase, you’ll feel superhuman; experiencing a higher sex drive and an increased appetite as our body works harder it craves more energy. Despite feeling great, this is a good time to take things easier and bear in mind that we might be a touch less focused. 

The final stage of our cycle is the premenstrual week and this is perhaps the phase we have the most education of as we are more aware of the most common PMS symptoms. During this time, we stop producing luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormones and our progesterone levels rise higher and higher. We get a burst of testosterone and oestrogen just before a bleed. This can be one of the most testing times of our cycle; we are more likely to experience a lower mood, higher anxiety levels and shorter patience. We’ll also experience the common PMS symptoms like headaches, cramp, aching, breast pain and low mood. 

During this phase it’s essential we practice as much self-care as possible; taking long baths and practising mindfulness to ensure we are putting ourselves first. Gentle exercises like yoga are particularly beneficial here for administering endorphins and helping to chill us out.