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Normally the 4 phases of menstrual cycle should work like a clockwork under the synchronized play of your hormones. Each month your periods should arrive at their anticipated time, according to your specific menstrual cycle length. And they should last only for the number of days, per the duration of your menstrual flow.

However, the reality is far from this for majority of the women. More than 50% of the menstruating women struggle with irregular periods, missed periods, severe menstrual cramps or heavy bleeding.

Treat the root cause of your Health Symptoms with 1:1 guidance from Ayurvedic specialists. 

Yet it is not normal!

Now, if you are one of the women, who are constantly dreading their period for one reason or the other; you may also be wondering if it is possible for you to attain regular and normal phases of menstrual cycle?

And the answer is “yes, you can”. A regular and pain free period is how it is meant to be. This is how your body is supposed to function when your hormones are balanced.

And when they are not, you need to fix the root cause! Balance your hormones to regulate your periods and start enjoying all the phases of menstrual cycle (and not the absence of them).

So, how would you do it? That’s what this post is about.

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You will learn about the functioning and play of hormones in all the phases of your menstrual cycle. We will also go through the foods, lifestyle and Ayurvedic natural ways that you can practice to attain optimal health in each phase.

This will help you to balance your hormones naturally and thrive in your menstrual cycle. Let’s get started!

What are the Hormones in a Menstrual Cycle?

Each month your body witnesses cyclical flow of hormones that trigger multiple functions in your reproductive system leading to a menstrual cycle. These hormones originate in various organs of your endocrine system as the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal gland, cervix and the ovaries.

Here are the most important menstrual cycle hormones:

  • GnRH
  • FSH
  • LH
  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Testosterone

Menstrual cycle hormones help your body to prepare for possible pregnancy during your reproductive years. Now, you may be thinking why should I care if I do not want to get pregnant!

Health Functions of Menstrual Cycle Hormones

Well, the role of these hormones is not limited to fertility. They also affect the health and functioning of your:

  • Metabolism or Weight
  • Health of the Skin, Hair and Bones
  • Your Mood and mental health
  • Energy levels and physical strength
  • The shape of your body i.e. size of your belly, buttocks and breasts
  • Fat profile, cholesterol and triglycerides in your body
  • Health of your heart
  • Your fertility

You see, the reach and cascading effects of menstrual cycle hormones is beyond the reproductive system. That’s why it is so important for them to flow in a regular fashion.

If your periods are not regular, it simply is an indication of imbalances in menstrual cycle hormones. And you need to address that to protect your health and your ability to function well.

How can I Regulate my Menstrual Cycle Hormones?

Each phase of your menstrual cycle is ruled over by different hormones. These are largely responsible for the changes you experience in your body and in your mood.

If you can then tune what you eat, what you do, how you do them, etc, to these changes, the whole menstrual cycle will go better for you.

Benefits of Balanced Hormones in a Menstrual Cycle

There is a lot you stand to benefit from when you balance your menstrual cycle hormones. Here is just a handful of them:

  • Help you discover if your menstrual cycle is irregular.
  • It fishes out menstrual irregularities due to underlying conditions. If you adapt your diet and lifestyle to balance your hormones, yet something keeps going wrong, then it is an indication of underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.
  • You have an improved diet when you take in the right nutrients for each of the phases of menstrual cycle. Thus, you can ensure you’re eating the right things at the right times throughout the month. You’re not permitted to lazily eat the same things every time, no! Rather, you’re conscious of not just what you eat, but what is contained in it.
  • When you balance your hormones with your diet and lifestyle, you take better care of yourself. You have a better chance of knowing what your body wants and when. You understand when you need rest. Your exercise is timely.
  • You can predict your mood and energy levels better, know what time of the month you feel more energetic. Thus, schedule intense physical activities for that time.
  • Know when you might feel a little off and you can avoid conflicts in your personal and professional life. It improves your relationships.

Should I Balance My Menstrual Cycle Hormones?

“Is menstrual cycle hormone balance good for me?” Yes, it is! Simply because this is the healthiest and best diet and lifestyle for your body.

Whether you have regular menstrual menstrual cycle or struggling with menstrual irregularities, you will gain health when you actively balance your hormones with your diet and lifestyle.

It simply means less dependence on medications. And you will be able to use the vital sign of your health “your menstrual cycle” to thrive!

After all, everyone deserves to have a healthy cycle. It doesn’t require you to take any pills or paying huge funds for some therapy or such. It all depends on you.

Who is it for?

The only exception might be women who are taking birth control pills. For these women, their cycles are already under the control of these man-made hormones. However, if you fall in that category, you can learn to get off birth control pills safely.

With that said, you can benefit from menstrual cycle hormone balance if you are:

  • trying to get pregnant;
  • battling PCOS, endometriosis or Menopause Symptoms;
  • experiencing heavy, painful, irregular menstrual flows;
  • struggling with PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms such as anxiety, bloating, cramping, and weight gain
  • have missed periods

Menstrual Cycle Hormone Balance | An Ayurvedic Perspective

Each Dosha, and hence the respective energies play an important role in different phases of the menstrual cycle. The dynamic forces of growth (Kapha), transformation (Pitta), and movement (Vata) guide the 4 phases of Menstrual cycle.

Therefore, to successfully balance your menstrual cycle hormones, you need to balance the dominant dosha during each phase.

As we go on, you will get to see which dosha is more dominant during each stage. Also, you’ll learn the best foods, herbs and lifestyle practices to avoid period problems as menstrual cramps or irregular periods.

Getting started

First, to balance your menstrual cycle hormones, you need to get an idea of what your menstrual cycle is like at the start. You might need to answer a few questions first:

  • On which days of the month do I have energy levels?
  • Which days do I seem low or experience mood swings?
  • Around what day in the month does my flow start?
  • How far apart are my periods?

You will find period trackers useful. You could use a good old calendar, or better still use an app. There are many such apps around. Find one that suits you.

The first day of your menstrual cycle is the day the blood flow begins. That is day 1. Once you’ve got these in place, you can now start to balance your menstrual cycle hormones.

The 4 Phases of a Menstrual Cycle | A Synchronised Play of Hormones

The menstrual cycle is a complex interplay of hormones operating in a synchronised manner. This is just an attempt to briefly summarize what happens during a menstrual cycle.

A menstrual cycle consists of 4 phases as described below. In this example we have taken the duration of menstrual cycle to be 28 days and assumed that ovulation happens on Day 14.

However, for majority of the women, the length of the cycle and ovulation day varies depending her body type and health status.

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1. Stage 1 | Follicular Phase, when Follicles start to Mature

The first day of the menstrual cycle is marked by the first day of flow, with bright red bleeding. At the same time, the process to the next menstrual cycle starts.

Pituitary gland in the brain releases FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (leutenizing hormone).

FSH recruits 15-20 follicles (little packets containing immature eggs). Usually, only one of them becomes a mature egg and rest others are suppressed eventually. If two follicles mature, you can have fraternal twins.

The follicle that is maturing produces another hormone, called estrogen. This one prepares the womb for pregnancy. It does this by thickening the endometrial layer (innermost layer of the womb) in advance for the arrival of a fertilized egg.

The Kapha stage

There is a lot of growth going on in this stage, and this is governed by Kapha Dosha. This is the nourishing stage. Kapha Imbalance can cause excessive lethargy, water retention, etc.

That’s why you should eat a Kapha-pacifying diet and engage in Kapha-pleasing activities in this phase.

What to eat

  • You’ll need foods high in vitamin E like sweet potatoes, extra virgin olive oil, green leafy veg, nuts, and seeds. This will help nourish growing follicles.
  • Keep hydrated with herbal teas, water, coconut water and fresh fruit juices.
  • Avoid salty foods to eliminate bloating.
  • Focus on warm, stimulating, light, and nourishing foods
  • Use spices in everything- food and beverages. Black pepper, cloves, cardamom, ginger are some spices to try.
  • Avoid excessive dairy products. You can take goat cheeses and soft cheeses moderately, however.

Exercise

  • Practice stimulating physical activity once your menstrual cycle is over.
  • Go for activities like running, jogging, jumping jacks and other cardio workouts such as zumba and pilates.
  • You can include other intense exercises here as you have high energy levels.

2. Stage 2 | Ovulation, When Egg is Released

LH boosts the production of Estrogen hormone from the maturing follicles. Eventually, the production of Estrogen hormone peaks at about day 12.

High estrogen causes the matured follicle to burst, which further releases the egg. Bursting of follicle or sudden surge in levels of Estrogen are often the causes of spotting during ovulation.

The LH also causes an increase in levels of testosterone. This hormone increases the libido. The increased libido is well-timed with the most fertile part of the cycle, that is, ovulation.

Here are some ovulation signs that you can take note of to stay tuned with your cycle.

The egg then enters the fallopian tube (a connecting passageway between the ovary and the uterus). It waits there to be fertilized. If sperm is not available to fertilize the egg after 24 hours, it disintegrates.

Thus your chances of pregnancy are there in 2-3 days of the ovulation window only.

The Pitta-Vata Dosha Phase

In this stage, there are a series of events that will eventually lead to maturation and release (movement) of the egg under the action of Pitta and Vata dosha respectively.

Adopt a pitta vata diet and lifestyle with the tips below.

Vata Pitta Diet for Healthy Ovulation

  • Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli. They help flush out toxins and excess estrogen.
  • B Vitamins support implantation. You can get that from whole grains, beans, lentils, sprouts and fermented foods.
  • Your temperature rises and you lose more water to sweat. Ensure you stay hydrated with cooling natural beverages as water, coconut water or fresh fruit juices.
  • Take proteins to support the production of hormones and endometrial lining build up, which will support next phase of your cycle.
  • Choose soft and unctuous foods like cooked grains, cooked vegetables, cooked cereals, and soups.
  • Avoid dry, fried, spicy and crunchy food.
  • Take healthy and pure oils into your cooking. Some examples are olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and cold pressed sesame oil.
  • Prefer astringent tasting wholesome foods such as beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa and millet.
  • Include fresh and cooling fruits such as melons, pear, cucumber, squashes and gourds. These are rich sources of Magnesium, which helps to balance Progesterone levels in your body.
  • Increase intake of cooked green leafy vegetables to naturally balance Pitta dosha.

Exercise during Ovulation

  • Practice relaxing and balancing physical activity such as yoga, swimming, walking, hiking and tai chi.
  • Stay away from competitive and extremely strenuous workouts as it will push the Vata and Pitta dosha out of balance.
  • Go for endurance building exercises such as weight bearing activities, squats, lunges, push ups and skipping.

3. Stage 3 | Luteal Phase, Thickening of Uterine Lining

The follicle (with the egg exited) becomes the corpus luteum, which has the task of producing a hormone called progesterone for the next 10-14 days.

Progesterone hormone helps to build the uterine lining in preparation of possible pregnancy.

Thus, if there is insufficient Progesterone, you will end up with very thin lining and hence scanty menstrual flow.

The Pitta Dosha Phase

In this stage, there is further thickening of the endometrial lining and secretion of menstrual cycle hormones under the action of Pitta dosha. One may be emotional/angry or experience skin outbreaks like acne. Also, the high energy levels that you feel in this stage all correspond to a high Pitta energy.

Adopt a pitta balancing diet and lifestyle with the tips below.

Pitta Diet for Luteal Phase

  • Prefer naturally sweet and wholesome foods to balance Pitta Dosha and provide ample nourishment to the body.
  • Always consume warm and cooked foods and beverages. It also calms the mind and improves circulation in the body.
  • Choose soft and unctuous foods like cooked grains, cooked vegetables, cooked cereals, and soups.
  • Avoid dry, fried, spicy and crunchy food.
  • Take healthy and pure oils into your cooking. Some examples are olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and cold pressed sesame oil.
  • Prefer astringent tasting wholesome foods such as beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa and millet.
  • Include fresh and cooling fruits such as melons, pear, cucumber, squashes and gourds.
  • Increase intake of cooked green leafy vegetables to naturally balance Pitta dosha.
  • Avoid animal products such as meat and seafood.
  • Include cooling herbs and spices such as amla, fennel, coriander, aloe gel, mint, and lemon grass to balance Pitta Dosha.

4. Stage 4 | Menstruation, The Uterine Lining sheds

This is the final stage, and it only occurs if fertilization (pregnancy) does not occur. In this case, corpus luteum stops to produce progesterone.

Therefore, the hormone levels drop, and the endometrial lining begins to shed. This shedding is what presents as blood flowing out.

On the other hand, if fertilization does occur, corpus lutuem continues producing progesterone till placenta takes over. This keeps the endometrial lining of the womb from shedding. Therefore, implantation of the embryo in the uterus can occur.

Do note that menstruation phase also overlaps with the follicular phase as new menstrual cycle begins on the same day when menstruation starts.

The Vata Dosha Phase

Vata dosha is the one in charge of all things moving, light and airy. It is in control of this phase. In this stage of the cycle, there may be pain, anxiety, cramps, etc. These are even more pronounced if there is Vata dosha Imbalance.

Thus practice vata balancing diet and lifestyle for pain free periods.

Practice Vata Balancing Diet in Menstrual Phase

The Vata dosha controls movements, and so is much involved in your menstrual cycle. The flow of blood is under the control of Vata. The best foods to suit the Vata dosha include:                  

  • Consume healthy, warm and fresh foods.      
  • Eat 5-6 small meals. However, avoid snacks and constant grazing.
  • Take more cooked green leafy vegetables, gourds, squashes and root vegetables.
  • Regularly use herbs and spices such as ginger, cumin seeds, coriander, turmeric, rosemary and basil.
  • Take foods rich in calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Some examples are beets, banana, millets, beans, lentils, carrots and sprouts.
  • Consume healthy whole grains such as Mung beans, Wheat, Rice, barley and quinoa.
  • Take healthy fats in the form of nuts, seeds, ghee and pure oils
  • Have fresh fruits like plums, dark grapes, apples, and pomegranate.

Exercise Routine in Menstrual Phase

Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Make sure you practice gentle exercises.

You will find that exercise improves symptoms like bloating, flushing, breast swelling and tenderness, diarrhea, etc. You will notice an increase in your appetite too.

Do note that you should not carry out excessive or strenuous exercise during menstruation. Take ample of rest and only practice light physical activity such as walk or gentle yoga.

Here are some exercises that you should engage on daily basis:

  • Surya Namaskar – 12 rounds (6 on each side)
  • Walking
  • Stretching
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Bicycling

Ready to Start?

You have learned about balancing your hormones in all 4 phases of menstrual cycle. Also, you have seen the numerous benefits. And as you can see, it is not necessarily difficult if you’re willing to make adjustments.

Make changes to your diet where necessary, tweak your calendar where you can. You will find that you are on your way to living optimally at all times in your cycle.

Before you Go!

Now we want to hear from you. Do write to us for any queries and feedback. If you have tried any of the above Ayurvedic natural ways to support your menstrual cycle, then do share your experience with us. We will get back to you the soonest.

Wishing you vibrant health!

References

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About the Author Nidhi Bansal

Nidhi is the Founder of Medhya Herbals. She is a passionate nature lover and a firm believer in nature's intelligence - which is Ayurveda, a science of life! She started Medhya Herbals with a mission to make Ayurveda's deep knowledge of self-healing practical and accessible. Nidhi has experienced Ayurveda firsthand, through her father Dr. Pawan Bansal, who is an Ayurvedic practitioner with more than 40 yrs. in clinical practice. Nidhi is a Chemical Engineer from IIT Delhi.

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