When you think about the menstrual cycle often the first thing that springs to mind is your period. The second thing that probably springs to mind is PMS. But, there is one crucial part of your menstrual cycle that is often overlooked.
Your menstrual cycle revolves around two key points. One of them being menstruation or your period. The other is ovulation.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard of ovulation. If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you will have heard me talk about it before – but I’m sure you were also told about it in your high school biology lessons. Ovulation is where the body releases an egg ready to be fertilized. I’m pretty sure that’s probably as far as your high school biology lessons went when it comes to ovulation..
The thing is, there is way more to ovulation than just releasing an egg. Of course, that’s a major part of it, but there is so much else going on that you can use to your advantage. I’ll bet that Mr Clark and Miss Pottage from the science department never told you about this.
Your Menstrual Cycle
So, the menstrual cycle so far… If you’ve made it to ovulation there are a few things your body has already been through. You’ve had your period (which means you shed the uterine lining), your body is busy preparing a new one, and as each day passes your oestrogen levels are steadily rising – hitting a peak at ovulation.
If you think back to when you were on your period, I’m going to bet that you felt tired. This is because you have a huge drop-in hormones when you get to your period – which can leave you feeling weary and sluggish. But, as your oestrogen rises you get a steady increase in energy.
You’ll probably notice as you come out of your period that you start to feel more and more energetic. By the time you reach ovulation, not only has oestrogen reached the peak, but also your energy probably has too. I’m guessing this is something they never told you about in science class.
Another hormone that’s linked quite closely with oestrogen is serotonin. Serotonin is the happy hormone. As oestrogen increases, serotonin does too which leaves you with a steady increase in uplifted mood and feelings of happiness and well-being.
By the time you reach ovulation, not only are you more energetic – you’re also happier and more confident. If you think about this in terms of baby making (which is what the menstrual cycle is all about) it makes a lot of sense. You have more energy to go out and find a mate and your libido is naturally increased as well (which obviously is going to be helpful in the baby making process).
The Advantages Of Ovulation
I know people who absolutely live for ovulation. It’s the time when they feel most productive, most happy and just generally full of life. This is why ovulation is your summer season.
Think of the summertime. Those summer days full of high energy and good vibes that you think of when you think of summertime are comparable to the way you might feel during ovulation.
For me, I really notice when I get to ovulation. have way more energy, I get so much more done and I am just more uplifted in my mood.
Something else I notice around ovulation (and if you follow me on Instagram you might notice this as well) I just crave being with people. We’ve been in and out of lockdowns for the past year and a bit. Not being able to socialise at ovulation has been really hard.
I actually would find myself scrolling through Instagram just desperate for somebody to interact with me. I show up online way more in a bid to socialise with my followers and I also talk really, really fast! That’s part of the ovulation vibes. You want to be out in the world, where the people are, doing all the things.
Again, this makes sense when you think about it in terms of baby making – because if you’re not out there in the world, how are you going to find a mate? Bear in mind your ovaries are completely unaware that you have a perfectly good husband at home who could participate in your baby making. The more you interact with people, the better chance you will find someone to procreate with.
If you track your cycle you’ll probably notice some of the things I have already talked about crop up for you. The high-energy, the uplifted mood and the general feeling of more confidence. If you’re tracking your cycle and you know when these things come up, you can know to make the most of them.
You have to understand that being someone with a menstrual cycle means that there are ebbs and flows in your energy and mood. You are not linear. It’s not all “go go go” all of the time. It’s not a straight path. It’s this wonderful ever winding path of highs and lows and I honestly believe you can learn to harness all of it to your advantage.
How Ovulations Affects Your Everyday Life
Ovulation is probably the easiest one to make the most of. I mean, it pretty much is all good stuff. You’re less likely to feel the mood swings and tiredness that you might feel at other times in your cycle.
When it comes to making the most of ovulation it’s really about being productive with that peak in energy. It’s about making the most of that extra confidence. It’s about being an absolute boss and getting shit done.
In my last ovulatory phase I really felt the effects of that high confidence. I’m going to tell you a little story about what happened. It’s probably a bit of a silly story but it really shows the effect that your hormones can have on your confidence.
I’m the kind of person that gets anxious quite easily about driving. I mean there have been times when I’ve had a full-on panic attack in my premenstrual phase because I couldn’t get into a parking space. And, while I consider myself to be a fairly good and cautious driver, sometimes it can fill me with absolute dread.
I do what I can to make it easier for myself. Generally I will pick the easy parking spot. I will avoid certain roads that I know freak me out. I will avoid driving at certain times of the day when I know it’s going to be really busy. One thing that I do quite often is pulling over to let other cars pass before I pull into my driveway.
Our driveway is a complete nightmare to get out of at the best of times. Which means I always reverse in because it’s then easier to get out. Usually what happens is that there’ll be a car behind me just as I want to reverse into my drive, so I will pull over, let them pass, wait for the road to clear and then I will reverse into my driveway.
In my last ovulatory phase I was like “No. There is a car behind me and they will just wait.” I pulled into my driveway backwards with people watching and I didn’t care. I felt so confident in that moment and I was so pleased with myself. I know that was my ovulation energy coming through.
This is what I mean when I tell you they didn’t teach you this stuff in school. They told you about the biology of the menstrual cycle. They didn’t tell you you might become a more confident driver because you’re ovulating.
Nobody tells you this stuff. And if you don’t know it, you can’t understand how to make the most of it. Of course, when I’m talking about making the most of it I’m talking about adding structure and routine into your life that fits around your cycle.
Okay, so I’m not exactly planning ahead as to whether or not I will confidently reverse in my driveway. That’s not the kind of thing you plan ahead for. But, there are things you can plan for. And when it comes to making the most of ovulation I actually like to think back to my last period. I know that sounds counterintuitive but hear me out.
I like to think of your period and ovulation as opposites. When I think back to my last period I like to think about all the things I didn’t have the energy for. This gives me some basis to work from when it comes to incorporating things into my ovulatory phase.
One thing I absolutely do not have time for when I’m on my period is cooking. I want to say I don’t have time, what I really mean is I’ve set a boundary for myself that says if I don’t feel like cooking I’m not going to do it. But obviously me and my family still need to eat.
So with this in mind there are a couple of things that I do to make the most of ovulation. One of them is batch cooking. And I say that with a pinch of salt, because it’s not the kind of batch cooking you’ve probably heard of before.
I don’t spend a whole day cooking meals in my ovulatory phase to prepare for the menstrual phase. While I absolutely could, and if this is something that you think would work for you then absolutely do it, I found another way which fits in a bit better with my general life. This is what menstrual cycle awareness is really all about. Doing things that fit in with your lifestyle and of course part of your lifestyle is your menstrual cycle.
What I tend to find is that, when I’m at ovulation, I have more energy – which makes me more motivated to do cooking. I don’t get to the end of the day and think “Oh God I have to cook and I really don’t want to!”. I’m more up for doing it when I’m ovulating.
When I say I batch cook, I don’t necessarily spend a whole day just cooking. But, when I do feel inclined to cook, I cook extra. That means I have a meal to have right away – and a whole other meal to store away in a freezer for another time.
Then when my period comes around I know I’ve got a freezer full of good nutritious meals that I can just pull out and reheat. Of course when I’m on my period there’s usually a takeaway thrown in there as well because I don’t want to cook, and sometimes I don’t even want to reheat what’s in my freezer. I also meal-plan for the week. So, if I know I’m going to be on my period, when I do the supermarket shopping I make sure I’m smart about it and buy meals that are quick and easy to prepare.
Another thing I like to catch up on during ovulation is laundry. I cannot tell you how much I detest laundry. I think it’s because it’s a never-ending job. There’s no finish line. I’m never going to complete laundry. And honestly pisses me off.
When you get ovulation though, it can feel as if you’re wearing a rose tinted lens. You start to overlook some of the things that might annoy you at other times in your cycle. So, with that in mind, I’m quite aware that I’m more prepared to do laundry when I’m ovulating than at any other time.
You can bet when it comes to my period I do not do any laundry for at least the first 2 days. That might not sound like much of a break but to keep on top of the laundry that my kids go through I have to do at least one load everyday. God only knows why they get through so many clothes.
When I’m ovulating and I know I’m more tolerant of doing this job, I make sure I get extra done. If there’s any time at which you will be able to see the bottom of my laundry bin, I would bet you it’s at ovulation. I know I’m not going to want to do it when I’m on my period so it makes sense to catch up and get ahead at so I can give myself a little extra space later on.
If I could, laundry is the one job I would happily outsource to anyone. So, if there’s anyone out there thinking “oh yeah I’d like to go and do her laundry” – by all means feel free. Actually, that sounds a bit creepy. Maybe I’ll just hire a laundry person one day.
Ovulation also plays its part into the production of this podcast, which might sound a little crazy – but it’s true. I run my business and my podcast and my blog in sync with my cycle. The Podcast is called A Life In Sync and it literally is.
I know my cycle so well I know what I’m good at at each phase. For me, I know that menstruation is all about coming up with ideas. Pre ovulation is mapping those ideas out a little bit more, fleshing them out and doing a bit more planning. Ovulation is for getting stuff done – whether that be writing a podcast, recording a podcast, getting email sent out or creating new courses and resources. And then my premenstrual phase is more for analysis and seeing what’s gone well over the last cycle.
Using Ovulation In My Business
When it comes to ovulation in terms of my business and the way I run things, ovulation is productivity time. It’s the time when things get done. It’s the time when plans turn into actions.
I fully know that the best time for me to be really creative and productive in my business is at ovulation. I’m careful to make the most of that time and the extra energy and creativity that comes with it. And, because I put in more work during ovulation, I have breathing room to take time off during my period. I’ve built myself a life and a business that creates space for the rest that I need.
This is why I’m so passionate about bringing menstrual cycle awareness to others as well. I see so many women that are burnt out, tired and in need of a break. They’re living lives that don’t allow for that and I know there is another way. I know there is a better way. It’s not a secret I want to keep for myself, it’s something I want to share – because I feel like so many other people could benefit from this.
What I would urge you to do after listening to this podcast is think back to your last period and think about some of the things that you wish you didn’t have to do. There are going to be some things that you wish you didn’t have to do but you kinda still have to do. You can’t just bin off your parental responsibilities because you’re bleeding. I get that. You can’t just decide that you’re not turning up to work because of your period ( although some employers are starting to introduce menstrual leave, which I think is absolutely amazing).
Write a list of all the things you wish you didn’t have to do and take a good look at it. Work out which things you could do more of at ovulation, so that you can do less of them during your period. They might be household chores, they might be things you do at work, they might even be things in your relationships.
I know I’m way more up for seeing people and doing things when I’m ovulating so I’m conscious to do those things when I’m going to be up for them. I’m less inclined to do things when I’m bleeding so it makes sense for me to plan ahead and balance that with doing more at ovulation and less at menstruation.
Whatever small changes you can make to optimise ovulation will mean that you can incorporate more rest into your menstruation. These don’t have to be big grandiose things. Even small changes can have a really big impact.
So, get yourself a list of all the things you hate doing when you’re on your period and see where you can incorporate more of these things in at ovulation. This can be something you do over time as well. If you’ve downloaded the digital tracking journal from my website shop, this could be something you make note of on your journal pages. If you’re interested in getting that digital journal you can get it at www.cherrelleslaney.co.uk/shop. Scroll down to the planners and journals section to find it.