There is so much more to your cycle than your monthly bleed. The menstruation phase often gets a bad rep but ultimately kicks off your cycle. The menstruation phase of the menstruation cycle is the most spoken-about and infamous but with better knowledge, could help to set the tone for the rest of your cycle. There’s a lot more to this phase of your cycle that the body will thank you for learning. Read on to find out the subtle and crucial characteristics of the menstruation phase.

The Basics

The menstruation phase typically lasts from day 1 – 5 (though menstruation varies and can last as long as 7 days or so). During this stage, your body loses blood and the uterus sheds its inner lining because an egg wasn’t fertilized. According to Menstrupedia, blood loss between 10ml – 80ml is considered normal. It’s also useful to note that cramps are typical symptoms of this first stage of the cycle. Cramps are caused by the contraction of the uterine and the abdominal muscle releasing menstrual fluid (blood and mucus). Estrogen and progesterone levels are at the lowest at this point of the cycle.

What To Know

21Ninety spoke with Adele Wimsett, a Women’s Health Practitioner, supporting women from menarche to menopause. Wimsett also offers an online hormone clinic to support women in harmonizing their hormones.

“This is a time to slow everything down. The more you embrace this invitation, the more you will be rocket-fuelled in other phases,” Wimsett advises.

“As tiredness at the end of the day invites sleep, the same is true of this phase,” says Wimsett despite the fact that sometimes, sleep isn’t always easy to achieve during this time. Easing into rest rather than fighting it is the key to understanding the menstruation phase. “Embracing the call for comfort during this less glamorous phase of your cycle, you might find that your yoga pants are your best friend. Try to keep your calendar as clear as possible so you don’t over-commit. It’s likely that you’ll have less energy or desire to socialize,” Wimsett suggests.

Exercise During Menstruation

Thinking about how to approach exercise while menstruating? Wimsett suggests slowing down as much as possible. “Yoga, walks in nature, rhythmic dance – now is not the time to hit the gym. Pre-empting sugar cravings too by having lots of easy protein-rich snacks available can really help. Also, prioritizing your sleep hygiene is essential as lowering hormones can wreak havoc on sleep quality.”

Ease and Self-Care

Good news for the soft life-lovers: the best thing to do at this stage is double up on the self-love routines. Wimsett believes that self-tending is a must and says that “this truly is the time to release the belief that self-care is selfish. Self-love is fundamental to surviving this season. We are often met with the relentless, thankless demands of our family and loved ones. The menstruation phase is for you. Try to listen as your body whispers to you, don’t wait for it to scream.”

“I find women often feel forced to ‘power through’ this phase, which makes us resentful, fatigued, angry, exhausted, prone to mood swings, irritable, and anxious. Protecting non-negotiable, guilt-free rest will help with preventing this,” Wimsett continues. It will be useful to spend time in a trusted community or with loved ones who will listen to and support you rather than cause stress.

“Your intuition will be on point right now too. You become a pure channel and you have a strong sense of ‘knowing’ as you can feel the world around you more deeply. Avoid thinking in a structured way, and allow your intuitive insight to take center stage,” adds Wimsett.