28. Women’s cycles, periods, and the moon

podcast transcript

Today, I wanted to talk to you guys about women’s cycles and fertility. More specifically, I want to talk about what happens to our body, and our mood, and our feelings when we’re going through different cycles throughout the month. I watched a video recently about this that I found really fascinating, about periods in general.

Something that this YouTuber Teal Swan was talking about was that women are different than men because of our hormones. We have different hormones releasing at different stages of our cycle, affecting our mood and our ability to go out and communicate and be extroverted with the world. Each cycle is defined by unique energy types, and I think that this is really important for both women to understand about themselves, and for men to understand about the women in their lives.

Before our modern world, when we used to live in accordance with the sun and the moon, rising when the sun rises and going to sleep when the moon is in the sky, our cycle was actually synced up with the moon. For example, when there was a full moon, this is when women typically ovulated and when conception was most likely to occur. Whenever there was a new moon, this is when women typically had their period or their menstrual bleeding. So women have been affected by the celestial bodies of this earth.

And I feel like our bodies as women are really a microcosm of the earth and the universe. For example, the different phases of our cycle are sort of representative of the different seasons that the earth goes through. So there’s this huge connection between Mother Earth and mothers themselves, and it’s really beautiful. So let’s talk about those different phases that I’ve mentioned a few times. What women are doing unconsciously is ripening and egg throughout the process of a month.

when we have our periods, that is a beginning of a new cycle. When you’re bleeding and you have your menstrual cycle, this is a time where you feel very tired and your energy is at its lowest. At this time, you may feel more withdrawn and more introspective, and spending time alone, taking care of yourself, and resting, and thinking about your life. Deliberate rest at this time is really important, so making a lot of plans and having a lot of due dates at this time will go against the natural tendency or the feeling that you already have.

The next phase is called the follicular phase. This is after menstruation and before ovulation. At this point, your body is getting ready to release that egg from your ovaries. So you have the release of a hormone called the follicle-stimulating hormone, FSH, and this is what prepares the follicle to release the egg later on when you’re ovulating. During this period you have a rise of hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

After your period is completely over, because of these release of hormones you’re going to have a boost of energy, and your brain will function very well, and your mood will be better as well. This is a time where you’ll have more energy to go out into the world, to be assertive, and to take risks. You might feel more extroverted and have less of an appetite at this time, and you’ll feel more self-sufficient and energized to take on all the to-do lists that you’ve been thinking about.

During this phase as a really great time to use your brain functioning in order to brainstorm and problem-solve for some of the major areas of your life. It’s also a great time to initiate new projects and make big decisions. If you want to meet up with people, it’s a wonderful time to be social, and even strenuous, hard exercise will feel really good during this time. During your period, however, in the previous cycle, strenuous exercise would have felt like a lot. So maybe during that time it would be better to do some light stretching or a long walk.

Before your ovulation, your thoughts are really becoming your reality. It’s a great time for ideas and creativity, and you can put all this energy, like I said, into creating those new projects and experiments. Then, when the egg is released, this is when you’re ovulating. This is when you can become pregnant. You only ovulate for one day out of the month. During this time there is an abrupt rise in the follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, and also a huge rise in estrogen levels. This has been associated with a rise in left hemisphere activity in the brain.

During this time, your libido might increase as well because testosterone will be produced. This is when your mental and emotional creativity is at its peak because your hormones are at their peak. This is when your new ideas will be more fertile, and you’ll also be more sexually attractive to other people. So this’ll be a great time to be out in public; others will find you magnetic, interesting, and very verbally fluent.

The last phase is called the luteal phase. This occurs after the ovulatory phase, although the first few days of the luteal phase might still feel like the ovulatory phase. This is when the estrogen and testosterone start to decline and lower in your body. Then your body starts to produce another hormone called progesterone. This is actually an anti-anxiety hormone for the body, so you’ll feel yourself starting to wind down and relax. This is a wonderful time for nesting activities, things like preparing and cleaning your house, taking care of your to-do lists, and checking off all your chores.

The beginning of this phase will feel really good, but the second half of the phase might be difficult for women. That’s because you will start to approach your menstrual phase again, so this is when you’ll start to experience PMS symptoms. You’re going to start craving carb-heavy foods. You might bloat, and get headaches and anxiety and moodiness. So, if your body starts to go through these phases before you get your period, then you know it’s about to come, and you know that it’s normal.

If you practice good self-care, you’ll have fewer PMS symptoms. Spend enough time alone, eat healthy foods, and do restorative exercise classes like yoga. Make sure you get enough sleep, and honor what your body needs during this phase of your cycle. It’s a really great time to be evaluative and reflective over how the last few months have been, and just in your life in general. It’s a great time to tackle the negative or difficult aspects of our life because it’s a great time to be introspective and honest with ourselves about those things.

So the luteal phase can be described in two distinct phases: one in which it overlaps with the ovulatory phase, where you will have a lot of energy, and the second half of the phase, where you begin to become introspective and it overlaps with the menstrual phase. Knowing these things about your body allows you to take better care of yourself and your health.

Instead of fighting these natural feelings and these natural urges that you have to rest, relax, or exercise and go out and be social, instead of fighting those things, it’s important to go along with them, and maybe even start to notice when these things take place so that you can create a schedule that goes according to them. Try to go along with your natural biological processes instead of fighting them and forcing yourself to work and live like you do every single day in the same exact way.

That is much easier for men who have less of a rise and fall in hormones throughout the month. So men, it’s important to understand that, when women go through these phases and seem to have much different energy throughout the month, that it’s normal, and that you don’t have the same biological, physical experience that they do, and that this is why there are many differences between the moods and the feelings of men and women.

 

Vocabulary

CycleA series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order.
FertilityThe ability to conceive children or young.
PeriodA female’s menstrual or bleeding cycle.
Hormone A regulatory substance produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action.
Ovulate
When the woman’s egg is released from the ovary and travels through the fallopian tube towards the uterus, ready to be fertilized by male sperm in order to make a baby.
Conception
To conceive is to become pregnant or “with child”.
Celestial bodies
The planets in the sky. Celestial means in the sky.
Microcosm
A smaller version of a bigger thing. For example, if a neighborhood has similar characteristics to a country, you could say that neighborhood is a microcosm of the country.
Ripening
To ripen means to develop to the point of readiness. This is used for fruit most often.
Withdrawn
When you don’t want to communicate with other people.
Introspective
To turn your perspective inwards. To think about your life and your emotional and mental processes.
DeliberateDeliberate means on purpose. Doing something consciously or intentionally.
FollicleA fluid-filled sac found in the ovaries that holds the egg and releases it when hormones trigger it.
Estrogen and testosteroneEstrogen is the female sex hormone and testosterone is the male sex hormone. They are responsible for our reproductive systems and secondary sex characteristics.
BoostTo enhance
AssertiveTo have a confident and forceful personality that is not scared to take charge of a situation.
AppetiteYour hunger or desire to eat
InitiateTo begin
StrenuousPhysically hard or challenging
AbruptSudden
HemisphereHalf of a sphere. So you can have a hemisphere of the earth or of the brain.
LibidoYour sex drive
PeakThe top of something; the highest degree of something
FertileCapable of producing fruit, growing life and creating abundance.
Magnetic (personality)Someone who’s magnetic attracts people to them. People naturally like them and listen to them.
NestingBirds build their nests which are their homes. Humans nest when they are taking care of or preparing their homes in some way. For example, when a woman is pregnant and she begins to prepare the baby’s room, we call this “nesting”.
Craving (to crave)To desire something
Bloat When your belly is enlarged because of fluid retention or other causes.
MoodinessQuick change of moods that are often unpredictable and range from very happy to sad and upset
PMSPremenstrual syndrome occurs before your period when women experience bloating, mood swings, acne and other negative symptoms.  
RestorativeSomething that relaxes you and gives you more life and vitality
ReflectiveTo be deeply thoughtful about something, often about your life
OverlapTo extend over something and partly cover it

Idioms and Collocations

To live in accordance with somethingTo live in harmony with something, not against it or disrupting it.
Synced up with somethingTo coordinate something with something else so that they operate at the same rate and in correspondence with each other.
Wind downTo slowly draw to a close or to start to relax after stress or excitement
To tackle something To deal with something, usually a problem; to handle it
Go along with
To give your agreement to do something or support something. You often use this when you want to go in the same way or direction as someone or something; you don’t want to oppose it or cause conflict. For example, “My wife wanted to eat out for dinner and I didn’t care so I just went along with it.”

Questions

1. Do you notice a difference in the cycles for you or a woman in your life?

2. Do you think it’s important to wind down when we’re tired?

3. Have you seen someone start nesting before? What did they do?

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