The Follicular Phase
The follicular phase is often overlooked in high school sex-ed classes. You’re taught we bleed during menstruation and make babies during ovulation. But neither of these would be possible without the follicular phase.
While menstruation can be referred to as winter, and you stay in, stay warm, and rest up, the follicular phase is spring. It’s the season of new beginnings, increased energy, and ambition.
What’s Happening in Your Body?
The follicular phase begins as your bleed ends and lasts, on average, 7-10 days. Your hormones are still at lower levels at the beginning of this phase until estrogen starts to pick up. Gradually the lining of your uterus starts to thicken.
Your pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and it signals your ovaries to produce between 5 and 20 follicles. Each follicle contains an immature egg.
There is little to no progesterone or testosterone production during this time. Instead, estrogen is the leading lady of the follicular phase.
See the image below for a visual of what’s going on with your hormones:
Follicular Phase Superpowers
As your hormone levels begin to rise after menstruation, your energy and creativity will increase. You should notice them increasing with every passing day. The follicular phase is a great time to brainstorm and plan future projects.
Now that you’ve identified what you wanted to change during the menstrual phase, you can start creating a plan to put those changes in action. You’ll be more likely to say “yes” to new opportunities and set goals and intentions for the month.
It is the best time to plan online content, schedule networking events, create social media posts, line up your to-do list for the month, or schedule other work-related activities. Whatever your job, you can use this week to keep the rest of your month better organized and stress-free.
I love to schedule time during this phase to plan out the rest of the month. That sets me up for success for the next few weeks.
Follicular Phase Superfoods
As your hormone levels rise, you’ll want to incorporate light, fresh foods that increase your energy throughout the week.
Food such as salads, veggies, lean proteins, seeds, and fermented foods will support your gut and your detoxification pathways. Many women also find that they have more focus and willpower during this time, so eating raw vegetables and lean protein is more beneficial and easier to do.
Because estrogen is the dominant hormone during this phase, it’s essential to eat foods that help you metabolize any excess estrogen effectively. This is especially true if you suffer from endometriosis or fibroids. Green vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, contain diindolylmethane (DIM) will encourage estrogen detoxification.
Foods to include during the follicular phase:
- Green salads
- Brussel sprouts
How to Exercise During the Follicular Phase
The concept of trying out new things during the follicular phase can be applied to your workout routine as well. You are starting to feel more social, more energized, and more adventurous.
The follicular phase is the best time for cardio because your metabolism is naturally slower and your resting cortisol levels are much lower compared to the rest of the menstrual phases.
Now is a great time to join a dance class, go on a run with a friend, ride your bike down a new path, give boxing a try, or experiment with other cardio-based workouts. Aerial silk, S-Factor, and LYRA classes are fun and exciting ways to get moving and meet new people.
Find a workout that you really enjoy and that mixes up your old routine. Check with local gyms and studios to see what kinds of classes they offer or learn something new on YouTube.
How the Follicular Phase Affects Your Relationships
As estrogen continues to rise, you’ll feel more drawn to socializing and strengthening friendships. You’ll be more likely to make plans and will be up to trying new things with your friends and your partner.
Plan activities that get you out of the house and on your feet. Outdoor events, concerts, sports (playing or watching), museums, or hikes are fun ways to refresh and build relationships.
Intimacy During the Follicular Phase
As your hormones increase, your mental and physical desire for sex will build as well. The follicular phase is ideal for slowly growing affection. Foreplay, touching, and massage make sex more enjoyable during this phase. Again, it’s a great time to try something new!
P.S. your imagination works the best during the follicular phase!
Communication During the Follicular Phase
While it might not be quite the time to have those more serious conversations, you can definitely include your partner in this “planning” phase. Tell them about your goals, intentions, and dreams. Plan a trip, project, or event together. It will not only make you closer together, but it will keep you on the same page with life.
Embracing the Follicular Phase
The follicular phase is perhaps the most optimistic and exciting part of your menstrual cycle. It’s all about new beginnings and a fresh start! You’re the most creative, and your energy increases every day. Take advantage of these ambitious feelings and set up the rest of your month for success!
If you find that you’re overly tired during this phase or that these workouts make you feel worse, you might have a hormone imbalance. Proper testing can help you identify those imbalances and get back to making the most of the follicular phase. Book a call or email me to learn more about how testing can help!