Many women expect their periods to be the same month after month, year after year, but in fact there are 7 hormonal phases you’ll experience over the course of your lifetime. Each phase marks a shift in your hormone levels.
Is your period different now than it was 5 years ago?
Do you notice shifts in its length, color, and the symptoms you experience?
Or have you not really stopped to think about it?
It’s important to check in with yourself, and today’s article will help you identify exactly what you should look for during key moments of your changing 7 hormonal phases — and why you might want to do this. Your period can be a health indicator and helped you to understand what’s going on with your evolving body.
Here at FLO Living we talk a lot about what’s changing in your cycle week to week, but I also want you to be aware of what’s changing over your whole life cycle so that you can be proactive and prevent hormonal imbalances from happening.
I developed the Period Type quiz to help you evaluate and analyze your period experience simply, easily, effectively. You can answer a few questions and get immediate advice based on the information you can provide through observation alone. I suggest you take this quiz frequently as it will help you to check in with your body and keep your eye on what’s going on with your period.
Why your period won’t stay the same & what you can do about it
Many women expect their periods to be the same month after month, but in fact there are 7 distinct hormonal inflection points over the course of your lifetime. Understanding that your body and your period will change allows you to give yourself the kind of self-care and health-care you need at each new turning point in your life.
We’ve come to think there are only a few milestones in a woman’s life – her first period, pregnancy, menopause. But there’s actually many more shifts your body goes through and knowing what to expect can provide valuable insight into the female experience.
The FLO Living protocol supports you in handling these hormonal adjustments smoothly. The hormone-balancing sequence is exactly what your body needs to recalibrate after each change.
If you support your hormones and rebalance them at each inflection point, you’ll avoid having the uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms of perimenopause and beyond. The perimenopause shift can be when you realize you just can’t put off paying attention to your body anymore. If you’re not healthy and hormonally balanced, your body will let you know. Awareness of these shifts can key you into how best to care for yourself.
Your 7 hormonal phases and what to look for in each
Here’s an outline of each phase and what you need to look for in each. I call this “auditing your period.” At the beginning of every life phase, this auditing process should happen. You can use the Period Type quiz to ask the right questions about your experience.
1. Puberty (9-21 years old)
This is a time where you might notice irregularity with the menstrual cycle. It takes time for the body to build up enough of a hormonal concentration that you can ovulate and menstruate regularly, as well as develop secondary sex characteristics (breasts, pubic hair). However, as a culture we’re all too quick to assume that these normal fluctuations during this entire dozen years or so need to be regulated with medication, i.e. the birth control pill.
When what we need to do is a better job of auditing why our girls are struggling to make this adjustment through their diet and lifestyle. Of course, if you have learned that skill by doing the FLO Living protocol for your own body, you’ll be better equipped to do that for your child or niece. The earlier you start making these changes, the better. Audit her diet and exposure to endocrine disruptors (everything from chemical-based shampoo to pesticides in her food) at age 9, rather than at 14 when she is going through that natural emotional separation process of her teen years and won’t want to listen to you!
The American Committee for Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently recommended that teen girls monitor their menstrual cycles with the support of their healthcare practitioner. The menstrual cycle is the 5th vital sign of your health throughout your life, but in the early stages it can provide important information on health issues that need early diagnosis and understanding. The birth control pill only masks reproductive health issues and delays proper treatment and care. A great book to help start a teen on this journey is “Cycle Savvy” by Toni Weschler (who wrote the comprehensive cycle knowledge bible “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”).
2. Adult Menstrual Years (21 – 35 years old)
At this age, you probably will move to a new location, start a new job or graduate school, get stressed out and have exposure to more alcohol and caffeine, which all affect your hormones. This is the time to notice if your periods get whacky – from cramps, PMS, acne, migraines – or a continuation of the symptoms you experienced in puberty. In the short term it’s about eliminating these symptoms, and in the long term it’s about preserving your fertility – even if you’re not sure if you want to have kids or not. Fertility is about so much more than having children – it’s about leading a vibrant, healthy, energized life full of creation and growth.
3. Pregnancy (age varies)
The degree to which you’re hormonally sensitive in this phase indicates the degree to which you did or didn’t address your hormonal symptoms in the Adult Menstrual Years phase. You should and can feel great during pregnancy, but it usually needs some preparation. I suggest women prep their bodies with diet and lifestyle changes at least 3 months prior to trying to conceive, but preferably a year prior. You can treat hormonal symptoms to ensure a healthier, happier pregnancy and, as such, a healthier baby. If you’re a hormonally-sensitive person, like me with a diagnosis of PCOS, then it’s even more important to prep for pregnancy as the surge of pregnancy hormones can inevitably lead to health issues.
4. Post-Partum (age varies)
After pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone drop significantly before readjusting. What you’ve been eating for the decade leading up to having your baby will leave you vulnerable to developing postpartum issues. This is something you want to prevent, but if it’s happening there’s still a lot you can do through incorporating the FLO Living protocol. I’ve shared my postpartum food choices after giving birth to my baby girl – a daily diet that helped me to breastfeed for the next two years, lose the extra baby weight quickly, avoid the mood swings that can arise from my hormone sensitivity, and get my period back at the right time.
5. Perimenopause Phase One (35-45 years old)
This is the hormonal unwinding process and it starts at 35 no matter what! You shouldn’t have to feel symptoms during this phase if you’re healthy. You should be ovulating and menstruating regularly and have good muscle tone, skin quality, energy, and sex drive, i.e. still making enough hormones to feel vital and youthful. Audit what’s happening with your diet and lifestyle here. It’s very likely that because your hormones are changing, your body will be giving you insight to the underlying problems that need addressing. If you’re not healthy, your body will let you know. Difficulty with fertility, vaginal dryness, wrinkles in skin, and drying of hair are not to be solved at a spa or a salon. These are huge messages that your hormones need attention! Especially before you get into the next phase of perimenopause. You can avoid the effects of premature hormonal aging with the right foods and supplements.
6. Perimenopause Phase Two (45- 55 years old)
This should be a relatively smooth process where FSH levels rise to the point where you no longer ovulate. However, many women age hormonally prematurely in Phase 1, which causes difficulty with the hormonal values of Stage 2, even as early as their early 30s. When things are in balance, this should be just the process of your body manufacturing slightly less, but a balanced amount, of estrogen and progesterone and testosterone. If you’re having hot flashes, night sweats, no libido, etc., then what’s happening is you’re likely having unbalanced levels of these hormones.
I know that what I do now – that is, choosing to eat and live pro-hormonally – is going to have an impact on my life 20 years from now. Just as my choice to work with my hormones 20 years ago has got me where I am today – a healthy, happy mother with a successful career and fulfilling life – how I work with my hormones today will bear fruit another 20 years down the line. I want you to be sexy, strong, happy and healthy when you are 50+ years old. Perimenopause is an amazing opportunity to make sure you are all those things as you age. It’s a timed reminder from your body to check in with yourself and see if you need to take better care of your hormones.
7. Post-menopause (55 +)
In this phase, FSH levels are now at their new, permanent elevated levels (between 20 and 30) and your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, should be at stable concentrations, which will be lower than they were iin your menstruating years, but still in balanced ratios. If you’ve been eating and taking care of yourself during the other inflection points, you should have enough micronutrient building blocks to make this phase symptom-free. Because hormones are stable at this point, focusing on your diet and high nutrient concentration is key. It’s also a good time to support the body with digestion and nutrient absorption capabilities, which sometimes get compromised with age.
If you invest in re-calibrating your hormones at each of these phases, then you can live drama-free with your hormones for your entire life. In order to get there, you must take a moment to evaluate and make the diet and lifestyle changes necessary to address them.
You can access the true power inherent in your hormonal patterns.
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
To your FLO,
Do You Know the Easiest Way to Fix Your Period Symptoms?
You don’t need to keep suffering with annoying symptoms that drain your energy for 1-2 weeks every single month. In fact, you can start having a better period as soon as your next period.
MyFLO is the first-ever functional medicine period tracker that ALSO helps you fix your symptoms. MyFLO will help you understand why you have symptoms and what to do to improve them with food. It will also teach you how to Cycle Sync™ the 5 main areas of your life: food, exercise, work, relationships, and sex.
Have a Better Period with MyFLO
When you follow MyFLO’s weekly recommendations, you’ll get rid of frustrating symptoms and learn how to optimize your energy to be more productive and have better relationships.