menstrual cycle

It is well known that the menstrual cycle plays a huge role in many aspects of life, including exercise. The bodies fluctuating hormone levels throughout the month can cause energy levels and performance to dip up and down depending on the menstrual phase.

Instead of eliminating all exercise, it is really important to gain an understanding of the different parts of the menstrual cycle and what this means in terms of exercise.

Working With Your Cycle

There are many benefits to be gained from exercise, especially during a period as it can trigger an endorphin and serotonin release. Exercise can help to manage depression, enhance mood and provide elements of natural pain relief which can be great for eliminating abdominal period cramps.

The menstrual cycle consists of several phases which are controlled by hormone fluctuations:

1. Menstrual Phase

This is the first phase of the menstrual cycle and is when a woman experiences bleeding. Progesterone and oestrogen drop to their lowest levels during menstruation as the body sheds the uterine lining. These drop-in hormones and blood loss are usually paired with a lack of energy.

Low-intensity exercises such as restorative yoga are ideal for this phase as it allows the body to flow and relax without the stress of high-intensity activities. This practice can also help to relieve symptoms of bloat, heavy bleeding and PMS.

2. Follicular Phase

During this second stage the body signals for the ovaries to release an egg, whilst oestrogen levels rise to thicken the uterine lining in preparation for the arrival of an egg. This rise brings with it increases in energy levels making it the perfect time to step up the intensity with exercise.

During the follicular phase when energy is high, it could be a great time to push yourself a little more with your training. This could be vigorous aerobic including high-intensity workouts, strength training, running and spinning which all use all of the major muscle groups.

3. Ovulation Phase

The ovulation phase sees oestrogen levels peak, which signals to the pituitary gland to release a surge of hormones causing the ovaries to release a mature egg. Energy levels during this phase still remain high which means great for continuing the high energy workouts of the follicular phase.

4. Luteal Phase

The last phase of the menstrual cycle that is just before menstruation is called the luteal phase. At the end of this phase oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone peak before then, declining until they hit their lowest point just before bleeding occurs.

During this phase, the body’s metabolism speeds up along with resting cortisol levels. It is advisable to avoid high-intensity workouts during this time and opt for gentler movements such as yoga, pilates or non-cardio strength training.

Speak To Our Specialists

If you would like to find out more about understanding your menstrual cycle or are suffering from symptoms such as pelvic pain that could be putting you off exercise – get in touch with SureScan today to speak to one of our specialist gynaecologists.