See how you can use your menstrual cycle to ace your work presentation, snag a hot date, boost your creativity, and more
Unless you’re planning a beach trip or want to wear white to a big event, you probably don’t schedule much around your menstrual cycle. But you may want to start: The natural rise and fall of your hormones throughout the month can affect more than you think.
Quitting smoking, for example, feels easier for women who ditch the cigs in the two weeks before their next period (known as the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle), when estrogen and progesterone levels are high, new research finds. Nicotine cravings are worse right after your period ends, in what’s called the follicular phase. (Are e-Cigarettes Really a Healthy Alternative to Lighting Up?) Here, five other ways to make your menstrual cycle work for you.
If you’re in charge of sending out calendar invites, try to pick a date in the first half of your cycle: Compared to women in their luteal phase, those in their mid-follicular phase (or around days six to 10 in a 28-day cycle) are more verbally fluent, suggests research from Psychological Medicine. Aim to avoid the week or so before your period, as PMS can trigger brain fog.
Men find women most attractive around days 11 to 15 in their cycle (the late-follicular phase), when progesterone levels are low and fertility levels are high, according to a study in Hormones and Behavior. For a first date, consider dancing: Research shows he finds your moves most captivating then too. Already in a relationship? Grab your guy and hop into the sack. This is when you’re feeling the friskiest as well.
When you’re feeling bloated and crampy the last thing you want to do is work out—but it's exactly the time you should get your sweat on. Working out regularly eases PMS symptoms like cramps, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. And while you can dial back the intensity if you feel truly crummy, there seems to be little menstrual-related reason your performance might flag, researchers found. Before hitting the gym, learn more about What Your Period Means for Your Workout Schedule.
Right around ovulation—day 14, give or take a day or two—your levels of a follicle-stimulating hormone, which help your eggs mature, spikes. According to integrative medicine expert Marcelle Pick, ob-gyn and author of Is It Me or My Hormones?, this increase often results in a boost in creativity and innovation. Channel the power into your creative projects, like writing, photography, or cooking. (Also check out these other top Ways to Pump Up Your Mental Muscles.)
During the luteal phase—from ovulation to the day before your period begins—hormone levels are high, and you likely feel more stressed and emotional than usual. Pick recommends paying attention to when you feel most out of sorts each month. On those days, plan something special and soothing for yourself, like a massage or a hot bath.