Your menstrual cycle is so much more than your period. It's a complex system that influences everything from your energy levels to your libido and changes drastically throughout the span of a month. So no, you're not crazy or damaged if your sex drive goes up and down like a rollercoaster. Where you are in your cycle determines how your body is feeling, what it needs, and how to best take care of it.
Enter cycle syncing: the practice of tailoring your lifestyle around the natural phases of your cycle to work with your body rather than against it. By understanding the nuances of how your hormones affect your physical health, emotions, and energy, you can make the most out of each phase.
So, how does cycle syncing apply to our bedroom activities? Let's dive in.
What Is Cycle Syncing?
Let's start with the basics. On average, cycles last around 28 days, during which you go through four distinct phases:
* Menstrual: Estrogen and progesterone are low, causing the lining of your uterus to shed and bleed.
* Follicular: Estrogen and progesterone levels start to rise, and you get your first surge of energy.
* Ovulatory: Estrogen reaches its peak while testosterone and progesterone continue to rise.
* Luteal: Progesterone is high, and if an egg isn't fertilized, all hormone levels start to decrease in preparation for your menstrual phase.
Ignoring your cycle won't kill you, but it can make many aspects of your life harder than they need to be. These hormonal fluctuations are designed to encourage reproduction and influence things like your energy levels, mood, appetite, sleep patterns, and, yes—your sex drive.
The idea that you'll feel the same—and be aroused the same—all month long is unrealistic, and yet many women still expect it of themselves. Women's Holistic Health Coach Robyn Srigley says the pressure to perform sexually only causes unnecessary stress.
"A lot of people feel like their level of libido, or sexual desire, isn't normal or enough," she says. "But there is no one standard. It's going to fluctuate within you from day to day, phase to phase, cycle to cycle, depending on many different factors."
Getting to know these internal ebbs and flows and what specific factors affect them can be incredibly liberating. It gives you permission to tune into what your body wants and needs—and when it comes to sex, that's often different from one phase to the next.
The Best Sex For Every Phase Of Your Menstrual Cycle
Unless you're dealing with a hormonal imbalance or on hormonal birth control, your libido is likely to follow a similar pattern each month. Below, Srigley breaks down what's happening in each phase and how to make the most of it.
1. Menstrual Phase
"When our body triggers our period, we have a drop in hormones," she says. "Progesterone drops, estrogen drops, everything drops. For some people, their sex drive is very low at this time because of that drop. And for some people, it gets extremely high."
It's not clear why different people experience different levels of arousal during this time, but Srigley suspects that a spike could be due to the relief of being out of the luteal phase and all the PMS it brings. If you feel like having sex on your period, go for it! Slower, more relaxed penetration can be really nice, as well as some mutual masturbation.
And if you're concerned about making a mess, just take it from the bedroom to the bathroom with the WaterSlyde. It's a water stimulator that delivers a deeper and slower pleasure journey—perfect for when you're not feeling your most energetic, or you may be concerned with making a mess.
2. Follicular Phase
"In the follicular phase, your hormones are rising because your bleed is over. So along with more energy and more mental clarity, there can be a libido that is starting to rise."
Take advantage of this newfound energy and use it to explore new ways of getting aroused. This is the perfect time to switch up your routine and get creative—think experimenting with unfamiliar positions, toys, or sexual fantasies. So long as you're comfortable and consenting, the sky's the limit.
3. Ovulatory Phase
"This is when our hormones are peaking for the most part, except for progesterone," Srigley says. "All of these things together create a higher libido for most people, and it's a biological response because this is the optimal time for procreation. So it makes total sense that we would develop a higher sex drive during what would be our fertile window. That's just how our bodies are programmed."
Whether or not you are, your body is primed and ready to procreate. Which means you'll likely feel more confident and social. This is a great time to go on dates and put yourself out there—though Srigley warns that you might be more likely to overlook some red flags. So prioritize safety, set your intentions and be sure to look for signs of mutual respect.
4. Luteal Phase
"As soon as we ovulate, progesterone becomes dominant. Research shows that progesterone seems to suppress libido. This is partly a biological response because we are not fertile for the rest of that cycle. So it stands to reason that our body would be like, 'We don't actually need to be participating in intercourse because we can't procreate.'"
So if all of a sudden you find yourself without a sex drive or uninterested in having intercourse, don't worry. You're not broken. You're just feeling the effects of your luteal phase. Honor whatever it is your body calling for—whether that's time alone or intimacy that doesn't lead to sex—and don't feel ashamed for wanting (or not wanting) something different.
Work With Your Body—Not Against It
Everybody—and everybody's cycles—are different. Things like birth control, nutrition, and even stress can all affect how your body responds to different phases of your cycle.
So don't force yourself to fit into some fictional box. Start noticing how your energy and sex drive fluctuate throughout the month, experiment with different ways to support your body as it changes, and above all, never feel bad or guilty about giving yourself what you need.
About The Author
Emily Blackwood is a freelance journalist committed to answering the plaguing question of what makes us truly happy. Turns out, it's a lot. Her work has been published in SELF, HuffPost, and YourTango. You can learn more here.
Medical Disclaimer: The information provided here is intended for educational and informative purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical or professional advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.