Nourish - Uncovering The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle – Luteal Phase
Welcome to the fourth and final part of our deep dive into the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle. Over the last two months, we’ve covered 3 out of 4 phases of the menstrual cycle and went into more depth about each one of them. Today we are talking about the fourth phase, the Luteal Phase.
Here’s a quick recap if you didn’t catch the other blog posts in the series:
The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
A menstruating woman will go through four different phases of her cycle each month.
Days 1 – 5: Menstrual phase
1 to 13: Follicular phase
14: Ovulation phase
15 to 28: Luteal phase
Today we will cover:
- What is the Luteal phase
- What is happening in your body at this time
- Diet and lifestyle tips to support you and your hormones through this phase
Luteal Phase Days 15-28
This phase typically begins on the 15th day of your cycle, right after ovulation. This phase will last until the end of your cycle, which is when your menstruation begins.
If you recall from the ovulation phase, the egg cell that was released will stay in the fallopian tube for 24 hours. If during this time frame, the egg is not fertilised, it will disintegrate which ultimately leads to the menstrual phase of your next cycle.
Alternatively, should an egg have been fertilised, it takes around seven days for the egg to reach the uterus for implantation.
Typically, estrogen and progesterone levels rise during this time to create the perfect environment for conception. These hormones will begin to decline if implantation doesn’t occur, leading to menstruation.
It is often these abrupt changes in hormones that can, for some women, lead to the unpleasant symptoms associated with pms and general pre-menstrual woes. If your hormones are balanced, most women tend to feel calm, and relaxed, and sleep is uninterrupted.
Many women find that as they move through this phase, their energy levels tend to decrease. Additionally, they may feel less inclined to socialise as much or partake in energy-intensive sports. This is absolutely normal, and part of the natural cycle.
During the luteal phase, it’s nice to focus on grounding, and nourishment as well as taking herbs to support the liver and nervous systems.
Diet Tips to Support Yourself During The Luteal Phase
Cravings often raise their heads during this time, so be sure to keep up the magnesium-rich foods such as: cacao (dark chocolate/raw cacao) | leafy greens | avocadoes | nuts such as almonds | quinoa
I wrote a blog post about blood sugar levels which may help you out in this phase:
Healthy fats are also wonders at battling cravings and helping your blood sugar levels stabilise. Try adding: coconut oil and meat | avocado and oil | olives and their oil | nuts and seeds e.g hemp and chia | ghee | omega oils
Then of course nutrition-rich foods such as sweet potato | pumpkin | brown rice | amaranth | eggs | wild fish | and meat
Don’t be worried if you notice your hunger levels being higher than normal. It’s totally normal.That’s because your metabolic rate is elevated during the second half of your cycle.
Try to avoid:
- Excessive caffeine
- Very salty food
- Heavy and fatty foods (greasy and oily foods, not foods containing good fats)
- Highly processed foods
- Refined Sugars
Herbs to Support you During the Luteal Phase
Since this is the time when PMS may raise its head, here are some herbs to help you out. Typically you’ll find that PMS symptoms include:
- mood swings and changes
- tiredness spots/acne
- muscle pain and/or cramping
- tender breasts
- premenstrual spotting
I wrote a blog post all about reducing PMS here:
Additionally, here are some herbs you may take to support yourself during the luteal phase:
Traditionally, Agnus Castus is a herbal remedy for the female reproductive system. It helps to regulate menstrual cycles and relieve premenstrual symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, menstrual cramps, breast tenderness and bloating.
It needs to be taken every day of the month, and it can take up to 3 months to reach its full effect. However, if you think about it, that’s only 3 cycles and the majority of women notice improvements within the first 1-2 cycles.
It’s worth noting however that Agnus castus cannot be used alongside any other hormone-balancing products, such as the Pill. The reason for the contraindications is that contraceptives work by deliberately creating an imbalance in your hormones. Agnus castus will be on a mission to rebalance them and in doing so, could counteract the medication and prevent it from working.
A. Vogel Milk Thistle is a wonderful herb to help with PMS. Since the liver has a controlling effect on hormonal balance, it’s important to look after it. If the liver is stressed (which it is for most people these days!), it can affect hormonal balance leading to a variety of symptoms.
Try adding some milk thistle into your regime to gently support your liver.
Reishi is simply wonderful. This wonderful mushroom helps to balance hormones thanks to the specific triterpene compounds in the fruiting bodies of the reishi mushroom. These help to support and balance the endocrine system, thus helping your body to relax, recover, repair, improve sleep and your overall ability to function well during the day.
It’s a wonderful ally to have at hand to aid sleep, reduce inflammation and aid relaxation.
The same goes for Ashwagandha – an amazing ally to go to for stress and sleep support.
Ashwagandha is well known for:
- promote longevity
- strengthen the immune system
- reduce stress
Lifestyle Tips to Support the Luteal Phase
As mentioned earlier, this phase tends to be known as the winding down phase or going within phase. Now is a good time to reduce the intensity of your activities, such as your exercise habits.
Swapping out to yoga or pilates instead of high-intensity sport is advisable during this phase. Walking or enjoying some light gardening work would also be lovely.
You want to stay warm and comfortable in these days leading up to your menstruation, so warm baths, massages and deep breathing exercises are a lovely addition to add to your routine for these few days.
Just like the rest of nature, we move through cycles. Take the seasons, cycling through spring, summer, autumn and winter. Or the moon cycling through from the new moon to the full moon, and then back full circle to the new moon. As menstruating women, our bodies go through four different phases every month and it is important to nurture ourselves during each different phase. This helps to bring balance and support and works to nourish your body and its systems.
When we have balanced hormones, PMS symptoms will decrease, if not disappear altogether, and fertility will be improved. Plus, our overall energy and health will be improved – horray!
That’s it for part 4 of Uncovering The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle – The Luteal Phase.
If you missed the previous parts, here they are:
Uncovering The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle:
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication