Phase Ed: The Menstrual Phase
Most people are familiar with this phase of the menstrual cycle - it's what is commonly called a "period", or the time when the menstruator is bleeding. The presence of blood leaving the body indicates the beginning of the menstrual cycle and is known as Day 1. In this phase, the lining of the uterus, or endometrium, is shedding and leavin the body, along with the egg that was not fertilized over the course of the previous cycle. This shedding happens over about 2-7 days. This is also when hormone levels are at their lowest.
There may be some cramping at this time as the uterus contracts to shed the uterine lining. Blood loss may lead to slight anemia (low iron) and many menstruators find that they are more fatigued than usual in this phase. Disturbed appetite and sleep patterns in the previous (luteal) phase may also contribute to fatigue during menstruation.
The same hormones (prostaglandins) that cause the uterus to contract may also cause other muscles in the pelvis to contract, causing back pain and bowel changes. About 73% of menstruators experience a change in bowel movements during menstruation, whether that be constipation or diarrhea. Diarrhea can also cause fatigue as nutrients may not be absorbed by the intestines as easily.
Premenstrual symptoms such as low mood, self-doubt, and anxiety may continue into the first few days of menstruation. Those with PMDD usually find that the symptoms common in the luteal phase tend to wane within the first few days of a bleed - the effect is not immediate.
In order to resolve fatigue and residual pain, it's important to respect one's body and prioritize rest, relaxation, and recovery. It's okay to say "no" to activities that might be too taxing. A warm shower or bath may soothe bloating, cramping, and back pain. Low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming may help to boost serotonin, which may be low due to low estrogen. Restorative or yin-style yoga is low-energy and great to stretch sore muscles and quiet the mind.
You can sign up to receive a FREE yoga class for your Menstrual Phase (along with a class for each phase of the cycle + a guided meditation) by clicking HERE!