Let’s talk about how your menstrual cycle can affect your body confidence. Through the different phases of the menstrual cycle, we have changes in our hormone levels which can affect both our mood and our physical appearance. Do you feel rubbish about yourself just before you’re due on? Yet just two weeks earlier you were feeling super confident? Or perhaps you notice that your body feels different one week to the next? Your menstrual cycle plays a huge part in these changes.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time you’ll know I’m obsessed with my cycle. For anyone who hasn’t heard me talk about this I will quickly explain the basics of the menstrual cycle. You have 4 phases in your cycle, each with their own set of hormone changes which can really affect your mood and your energy levels.
the menstrual cycle seasons
We can liken thes phases to the seasons of the year, so you have:
• menstruation (which is when you’re on your period) – this is the winter phase.
• pre-ovulation, which is exactly what it sounds like – its the time between your period ending and when you ovulate – this is the Spring phase.
• ovulation, which is your summer phase (you can tell when you’re ovulating by changes in your cervical fluid). And lastly,
• the premenstrual phase, which is the time between ovulation and the start of your next period – this is the Autumn phase.
When you get your next period the cycle starts again and you’re back to the Winter phase.
If you’re using hormonal contraceptives, your body might not follow this pattern because of the way hormonal contraceptives work. One of the ways they work is to stop you from ovulating, and because you’re not ovulating, you’re not having a true menstrual cycle – so what I’m about to share might not resonate with you if that’s the case.
So, the seasons look something like this:
• Winter is low energy, but you’ll probably find you’re quite a good thinker during this phase. You’re probably better able to make decisions and come up with new ideas, but you might not have the energy to follow them up.
• Spring is when you start to get some more energy back, and those ideas you came up with can start to come to life.
• Summer is high energy, high mood. So you’re really spirited here, a real “get shit done” kinda girl.
• And Autumn, is typical PMS territory. You’re likely moody, impatient and self-critical.
That’s a quick rundown of the 4 seasons, but what does this have to do with body confidence? I’m gonna run you through some of the changes that happen within your body during each season so you can better understand why you might feel a bit all over the place one week to the next.
the premenstrual phase
Let’s start with your inner Autumn, because if any of the phases has you feeling shitty, likely it will be this one. With the autumn phase comes this inner critic. We are way more self-critical during this phase than any other, so that negative self talk is likely more prominent here.
Couple that with the fact that you’re holding water, bloated and potentially even constipated. A rise in progesterone leading up to your period can slow your gut down, causing some of these symptoms. You’re looking physically different and your mind is not feeling kind about it. It can be really hard to love yourself during this phase.
Your period, or your inner winter – this is when you’re on your period. When you get to this part of the menstrual cycle, you get a huge hormone dip which signals your body to start bleeding. The major dip in hormones which causes you to bleed, also gets your gut moving again. This can lead to more bloating.
That same hormone dip also creates a release of tension. That frustration you might have been feeling about your body in the autumn phase get released.
With the winter phase, comes hibernation. Okay, not literally, but your energy levels are at an all time low here. Makeup is a no go, doing your hair is absolutely not happening, and you’re wearing nothing but baggy sweats for 3 days in a row. You might look in the mirror and just feel a bit “bleurgh” – but that’s okay.
Although you’re probably not looking and feeling your best here, positive self talk is much easier. You’ll probably find you’re more able to be kind to yourself.
Your inner spring phase is when things start to get a little more interesting. I mentioned already that this phase sees you feeling a little more carefree. So you’re more likely to let go of your insecurities here.
You’ve come out of the period cave, and you’re excited to be wearing your favourite clothes again. Maybe you’re up experimenting with new makeup or getting some beauty treatments in. (Side note: if you’re a waxer, this is a good time to get it done because it actually hurts less in the Spring phase.)
That bloating you’ve had through Autumn and Winter is fading away at this point, and your boobs are likely softer during this phase too. Although there are physical changes happening here, the biggest shift is in the mindset. Suddenly you’re feeling playful and flirty. You’re likely just feeling way more confident.
In your inner summer, your energy is super high. Your mood is lifted and everything in the world suddenly just seems way more attractive to you – including yourself.
Physically, your boobs will be perkier at this point. Your skin is likely at it’s best, and that water retention and bloating you had earlier in the cycle is gone. But again, it’s that mental shift that’s most important.
You’ll be feeling your best, super confident and more inclined to love what you see in the mirror. At the end of the day, ovulation is baby making time, so it makes sense that this is the phase where you’re feeling your most attractive. If any of the phases has you feeling yourself, this will be the one.
You can see how your mood and your physical changes impact the way you feel about your body. And it’s important to realise what effect your hormones have here. I find it really useful to understand how I’m likely to feel during each phase, because it helps me be more rational.
Instead of looking in the mirror and being harsh on myself during my Autumn phase, I understand that my body is just doing it’s thing. That my mind is overly critical here. It just helps to know that, and to put those feelings of inadequacy to one side until I’m in the Winter headspace.
It’s about working with your cycle to become more empowered within yourself.