How Our Monthly Cycle Affects Our Brains

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


The menstrual cycle is something women are taught, in mainstream society, to be ashamed of at worst and to tolerate at best. Rarely do we think something good, let alone brilliant, can stem from its processes. We associate our period with cramps, mood swings, bloating, and rage, and we see the ups and downs of the rest of the month as our alter egos creeping up to sabotage our relationships, creativity, and overall happiness. We try our best to turn from them or even control them.

But can we take a second to slow down and look at our cycle a little more objectively? Half of society has a menstrual cycle. So why aren't we more accepting of it? Why don't we try to see that there actually is a reason for it? It's not just about sexual reproduction and shedding our uterine lining. We get waves of emotions and feelings because females are incredibly intuitive beings. Oftentimes, these "crazy" feelings are our intuition trying to tell us something important in an abrupt manner. 

Menstruation is a miraculous part of our existence. Off birth control and around other females, our periods naturally sync with the full moon. We are guided by the gravitational pull of the moon just like the ocean's tides. And just as the moon has phases, so do our periods. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. Let's take a look at the four hormonal phases and what our bodies are telling us at those times.

Follicular Phase: Otherwise known as pre-ovulation. Physically, an egg is growing and developing and immune system cells are also developing in the wall of the uterus. Mentally, most women are filled with enthusiasm, immense creativity, and altruism/a desire to help others. Some say this is because within us, we are creating eggs (potential consciousness) and therefore are filled with creative energy in general. This is a good time to start planning creative projects.

Ovulation Phase: During ovulation, there is a rise in both estrogen and testosterone levels, meaning an increase in left-hemisphere brain activity (math, logic, etc.) and right hemisphere activity (creativity, arts) and an increase in libido/sexuality. Your brain is performing optimally on all levels. Your confidence and extroversion is at an all time high at this time of the month. This is because we are physically ready to become pregnant, and we're radiating on all levels to receive that. This is a good time to talk to your boss about a raise, give a presentation, or go on a first date.

Luteal Phase: This is when women are "most in tune with their inner knowing, and with what isn't working in their lives." (drnorthrup.com). We are almost magically in touch with our subconscious wisdom. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are at their very highest, and then their very lowest right before menstruation. We may become easily irritated this week, as dealing with others isn't ideal at this time of introspection. Saying no and staying in may be beneficial for our comfort. Premenstrual issues and tears should not be ignored. They are related deeply to our intuition at this time, and are connected to a lot of meaning and the direction we want our lives to head in or not. Don't feel ashamed of these feelings. Try to look at them objectively and ask yourself why you are really thinking and feeling this way. This is a good time to get organized physically and mentally.

Menstruation:  At this point, we are the most analytical we can be. Estrogen and testosterone are at their very lowest, and the left and right hemispheres of the brain are the most in sync. This means, it's a good time to think about the facts and logistics of the big picture of your life. It's less about intuition, and more about mathematically what's working and what isn't. It's a good time to handle your finances, for example. 

Don't let the "ups and downs" of each month make you feel crazy. In fact, you should feel quite the opposite. Instead of running away from, and criticizing, the way you are feeling, understand that these feelings are in place to grow the most successful you that you can be. Lean into these phases. Learn from them. Trust them. It's no coincidence that we all feel them. 

If you want to start tracking your four phases, I highly recommend the MyFlo app. It's $2 and creates a smart calendar that tells you when you are in each phase, and what to do to optimize your time in it. I've been having a lot of fun using it.

Fun side note - I asked my boyfriend what he thinks menstruation does to our brain and he said:
"Well - Starts with a day of crying and then it ends up becoming like a hyper awareness to everything and then that hyper awareness is, like, exacerbated by extremely opinionated defensiveness sometimes second guessed by overwhelming period doubt, in quotes. And then you wake up and the flow is gone and everything is back to normal." Is he right? I think maybe 15%, but the rest I don't understand LOL. 

7 comments :

  1. I love this so much! I cry almost everyday during mine--nothing big, I think its just the endorphins. I think its humbling to accept that state of vulnerability and freedom. We are humans, and it's okay to cry!

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  2. Y E S Dayna!!!!!

    I have been so intrigued by learning more about my natural cycle since a negative experience with birth control at the end of the summer prompted me to stop taking it. It is so interesting and I feel so in-tune and connected to my body! Do you happen to use any Fertility Awareness Method to keep track of your cycles on paper/the app? I use the sympto-thermal method, taking my temperature every morning and charting it on an app called Kindara, along with other bodily "tells" to let me know when I'm in each of the 4 phases!

    Ahhh I am nerding out but I'm so glad you posted this - It's so important and special and I want to scream it from the rooftops <3

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  3. This was such a great read! You know, I've never really given my period a second thought really, but this is great and all makes perfect sense to me. Thank you for sharing your wisdom! :)

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  4. Thanks for the read! I've asked myself this question last night and what you just said makes a lot of sense. Like having pregnancy brain.. period brain also exists, except not as worse lol ;)

    As for what your boyfriend said, i think what he's trying to say, is your body goes through so many emotions that you have no control what your doing. At times it affects our actions and how we perceive things. First we get emotional, then those emotions gets heightened, and starts to overthink things, which then turns into getting defensive and ..maybe become a little hostile, and then lastly the final stage - gets defensive and second guess what just happened. Was everything i said and did based on how i am feeling or was that my period talking? :\

    Hope that helps and clarifies things :)

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  5. This is amazing!

    I really don't think girls are taught enough about their periods. For me it's the worst part of my month and is something I dread, particularly because I get quite irritable just before. But yeah, I feel like I was never taught to understand it which is why I think this blogpost is particularly good!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I really loved all of your blog posts, but this one in particular mainly because I come from a society where girls are still treated differently when you hear the word period. People are really conservative and whenever you wanna argue about it with them they get very offensive, specially traditional people. We are straight up discouraged to do anything. It just creates such a negative impact on us girls. Wish people really understood the logic behind it and how difficult it is for girls to get through it. But hey this post is really good and informative!

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  7. I loved all your blog post, but mainly this one in particular because I come from a society where girls are still treated differently when they hear the word period. Specially, traditional people get very offensive when we try to educate them about the facts. We girls are straight up discouraged to do anything. This kind of attitude creates such a negative impact on us girls. Wish people understood the facts about how difficult it is for girls. But hey I loved this blog post :)

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By Dayna Frazer

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