Know Your Cycle: Luteal Phase
What is the Luteal Phase?
During the luteal phase, the body prepares itself for a possible pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining. The luteal phase officially ends in either pregnancy or menstruation. In the case of pregnancy, the egg continues to maintain high levels of progesterone. Otherwise, if there is no implantation of a fertilized egg, progesterone is released for 14 days before hormone levels drop off, starting your period.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
In TCM, the week after ovulation is yang in nature. Yang energy represents movement and is required to help bring the nutrients you built up in the first half of the cycle to the embryo. Yang energy can be compared to progesterone in western medicine. Both progesterone and Yang energy post-ovulation are important if trying to maintain a pregnancy.
During the last days of the luteal phase, without pregnancy, as progesterone drops so does Yang energy. The body is preparing itself to shed it’s uterine lining and start the process all over again. This switch moves Yang energy back to Yin. It’s during this phase that many of us experience those dreaded PMS symptoms. In TCM, the liver is responsible for a creating a healthy menstrual cycle. So, if it is not functioning properly things stop moving leading to symptoms like painful period cramps, mood swings, and irregular menstrual cycles. The liver is greatly affected by stress and anxiety, so working to decrease these will help your liver function better and minimize PMS symptoms.
How to Incorporate
The pre-menstrual phase of our periods is a reflective and evaluative time. Self-care during this part of the cycle should include time to look within and connect with our intuition. It’s a great opportunity to honour what we are feeling and spend time alone. If we fail to give ourselves this time, our TCM liver slows down and symptoms arise.
Our challenge this week, if you are in this phase of your cycle, is to do cobra pose. This pose is great for stimulating organs found in the lower abdominal cavity and includes a heart opener aiding in decreasing stress and anxiety.