If you live in Silicon Valley or dabble in health documentaries, you may be familiar with the idea of biohacking or making your body work for you and your lifestyle. There’s intermittent fasting, juice cleanses, and plenty of other options, but did you know you could hack your period?
I know, I thought it sounded too good to be true until I dug deeper and tested some of the advice. Here’s what I learned and how you can hack your period, too.
What does it mean to ‘hack’ your menstrual cycle?
We need to back up just a little bit. When you hear someone say ‘hack,’ they are referring to biohacking. Biohacking is the act of making small, incremental changes to improve your overall health or wellness. It’s like D.I.Y. for the body.
Healthline reports, “Biohacks promise anything from quick weight loss to enhanced brain function. But the best biohacking results come from being well-informed and cautious about what works for your body.”
Why would I ‘hack’ my menstrual cycle?
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by your period?
From hormonal acne to inflammation, a menstrual cycle can feel like an inconvenience for millions of women. We turned to birth control and doses of ibuprofen to alleviate the pain and symptoms in the past. But as more women are learning about the effects of contraception and over-the-counter pain relief, many are opting for more holistic options. Enter, biohacking and cycle syncing.
According to Natalist, “a woman’s menstrual cycle creates significant changes in the brain and body. By understanding these changes, a woman can use them to adapt her lifestyle to the phase of her menstrual cycle—aka cycle syncing. This can either reduce menstrual cycle symptoms or allow women to use these symptoms to their advantage.”
OK, I want to hack my period. But how?
Eat for your cycle
Hearing that your diet impacts your period may not be exciting, but it can be empowering. You can alleviate your period cramps and P.M.S. symptoms with foods that are “cozy, comforting, and easy to digest,” according to the content creator and health coach, Jillz Guerin. She shares that women should steer away from salads and dive into soups, stews, and herbal teas. But monitoring your diet isn’t limited to your menstrual cycle; Guerin advises having a routine post-flo based on if you’re in the menstruation, follicular, ovulation, or luteal phase.
Sweat it out — but at the right time
The key to biohacking is timing and consistency. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who are fickle in habit. But if one can be committed to the process, its benefits are undeniable. Let’s take exercise, for example.
Phase One - Menstruation. During phase one, or the first day of your period, you should be taking things slow. It’s the time when your hormones are at their lowest, and you should be taking slower movements.
Phase Two - Follicular. During phase two, or as your bleeding begins to stop, you should feel a rise in your energy levels and extroversion. This is a great time to get in a light jog, socialize, or try a new routine or dance class that you haven’t in the past.
Phase Three - Ovulation. A few weeks out from the first day of your last period, you’ll be in the third phase. During this time, you’re good to handle high-intensity workouts, dance classes, and workouts that might otherwise be more intimidating.
Phase Four - Luteal. In the final phase, just days before your next period, you’re in sync to handle lighter cardio, activities like swimming, and relaxing workouts such as yoga.
Ditch the coffee (Don’t shoot the messenger)
A cup of java, especially when you’re tired because of your period, can feel like one of the few joys left in everyday life. Though coffee is delicious, there’s research that backs up a pretty mighty claim: you and your menstrual cycle will be better off without it.
Glamor reported, “Over 50% of the population has a mutation in the CYP1A2 gene that produces the enzymes needed to break down caffeine. In the presence of this mutation, you don’t make enough of this enzyme, and you will have the caffeine circulating in your system for much longer, which can lead to many unwanted side effects from anxiety to insomnia.”
Instead of coffee, reach for herbal teas, water, or fresh juices.
It’s time to rest
We mean, really rest. Not just get six hours of sleep in (if you’re lucky) and chug coffee as a supplement. Health Shots explains, “Managing better sleep during periods can help alleviate the painful cramps, improve your mood, reduce fatigue and discomfort, and make the period cycle more comfortable.”
To help with more peaceful sleep, draw a lavender bath before bedtime and turn off your phone an hour before drifting to dreamland. Uninterrupted sleep has plenty of benefits beyond a more comfortable and optimal menstrual cycle. It can lead to a healthier immune system, prevent unnecessary weight gain, increased productivity, and improved memory.
Maximize your productivity with your period
Speaking of increased productivity, you can hack your period to help you accomplish goals. Yup, the very thing that can make getting out of bed feel like a marathon but is your secret weapon to organizing your life. But similar to the workouts, it’s all about timing.
Phase One - Menstruation. The time when you’re experiencing your period is the best time to check in with your goals. It’s quite literally a time to cleanse your body and all that is affecting it. Check-in with what you want out of your career and life, and take time to identify any blockers that have been in your way.
Phase Two - Follicular. During phase two, or your follicular, is when you should be having your greatest moments of inspiration. Take the 8-10 days of this cycle to build content, run wild with your imagination, and reach out to the most creative friends for a brainstorming session.
Phase Three - Ovulation. When you’re in the ovulation phase, you need to be networking and socializing your ideas. Reach out to a friend for coffee to run a new idea by her. Or court a new client that you’re hoping to secure for next quarter. Now is the best time to put your dreams and ideas into action.
Phase Four - Luteal. In the final phase, you need to put your head down and get to work! You’ve made the dreaming, the ideating, and the connection — now it’s time to work. Laura Charelle explains, “When your hormones are balanced, you’ll feel the rise of progesterone during your luteal phase. Which is a very calming hormone, making you feel centered and focused.”