Inside of every woman in her reproductive years there lies an inner clock. It ticks along from day one of her bleed until the day before the next bleed. It’s called her menstrual cycle. Menstrual Cycle Awareness is acknowledging this magical cycle and how it follows a flow of hormones that spark change inside of the woman’s body as she goes on a journey of creation and release.
These changes can have an effect on everything from a woman’s ability to concentrate to her communication skills, but knowing how to utilise these changes can support women’s participation in business and the workforce. In this article, Laura Wilkes explores how Menstrual cycle awareness at work opens an opportunity to use hormones to help sustain a better, more productive business.
In one half, oestrogen is the most dominant hormone. Oestrogen is a flirty, fertile and fun hormone. She builds the womb lining and helps the follicles to mature, ready for one to release an egg at ovulation. In the other half, once ovulation is complete, progesterone takes the front line. She is chilled, sedative and calming and maintains the womb lining before dropping (when no pregnancy occurs) to bring about the period.
When we know this and understand our own hormonal rhythm, we can use it to our advantage.
Hormones impact the brain, metabolism, energy and communication. The way we think, feel and relate to others, how much sleep we need, the tasks and opportunities that we are stimulated by and our ability to focus. When we know this and understand our own hormonal rhythm, we can use it to our advantage.
Men and women do not have the same hormonal fluctuations. It’s simply a fact of nature. Whilst women have a 26-35-day cycle (unique to every woman), men and women both have a 24-hour one. From a hormonal standpoint, men can show up the same, work the same, eat the same and move the same every day, whereas women need flow. Women have different needs, wants and superpowers across the full menstrual cycle; men have that across a day. Finding a way to honour this huge difference and allowing women the space to respect their cycle is a really powerful tool!
The Cycle in the Workplace
“True equality is valuing difference and accommodating it.”Bex Baxter, Ending a Workplace Taboo
Most office and work cultures do not honour the inner clock that flows inside their female employees nor do they give the freedom to manage projects and work in a way that utilises the superpowers of each phase. Largely due to a huge gap in female-focused research, policies and education on the wonders of a woman’s body and, even gloomier, the fact that a huge percentage of women don’t even know what their menstrual cycle is, let alone how to use it to thrive in all aspects of their life.
In reality, it’s too common for women to struggle through at work, to push themselves to try and prove a point, overload their calendars and experience “burn out”, have no choice but to call in “sick” for painful period days or feel like they have to continue through in silence even in order to succeed. To push against their natural flow.
It’s too common for women to struggle through at work, to push themselves to try and prove a point
What does this do to a woman’s work ethic?
And more importantly, what does this do to her physical and mental health?
Menstrual cycle awareness at work is an incredible opportunity to use hormones to help sustain creativity, energy levels and productivity. It could also mean that we see a drop in the number of women who suffer from painful bleeds, no more exhaustion and fatigue, a reduction in infertility, less depression and anxiety and a happier, healthier female workforce. It would also mean a workplace full of women who know when they are best suited to presenting, to running meetings, a day of creative planning with their team or more aligned to get to grips with that tricky excel doc, complete projects or spend the day alone to get more detailed tasks finished.
Unlike the common narrative that periods are debilitating, that they should be hidden and silenced, and women simply can’t thrive like men because of them, when one understands her menstrual cycle, and is inspired to live in harmony with her, she can thrive like never before.
How to Hack Your Cycle for Business
The whole cycle takes some deeper explaining but here is a guide on the phases, their superpowers and how they can be used at work.
Menstrual Phase: Intuition and Evaluation
All hormones are at their lowest level
Energy is at its lowest, time for softness and space and to check-in with self
- Review monthly tasks and calendar
- Check in with projects and what is needed
- Analyse reports
- Evaluate current projects and asses what’s working and what is not
Follicular Phase: Creativity and Vision
Oestrogen is rising and is the most dominant hormone
Energy is building, there’s a want to be back in the world and with people
- Start new projects and research new ideas
- Get creative with team mates
- Seek new clients and confidently approach them
- Set out plans for month ahead
- Dream big and vision for projects, clients and self
Ovulation: Communication and Team Work
Energy is at its highest, this is the most social, confident and risk-taking time of the cycle
- Give presentations or keynotes
- Host team meetings
- Have important conversations: boss, colleagues, team
- Write and create content
- Negotiate big deals
- Plan / attend social events, networking and team bonding with colleagues
Luteal: Detail, Focus and Completion
Progesterone rising and is the most dominant hormone.
Energy starts to drop, this is the most inward time, there’s a tenderness and sensitivity and the body craves slowness.
- Get admin done
- Organise desk, folders, projects, team etc
- Complete projects and finish off any outstanding jobs
- Best time to work alone
- Review contracts, financial reports and important documents
It’s time to lead change in the workplace by living and working in alignment with an awareness of both the male and female hormones. Society is currently geared solely around the 24-hour clock, how can we make space for both flows to thrive?
Laura Wilkes is a Menstrual Cycle Educator, Yin Yoga Teacher and Female Empowerment Coach. Her work is based on the philosophy that understanding the Menstrual Cycle is the foundation to living as an empowered woman. She breaks the taboo of talking about periods, starts conversations normally spoken “hush hush” and loves to squash menstrual myths (no PMS is not normal!) so that women can use their cycles to thrive and can live more compassionately, with more acceptance and more love for themselves.
For more information on your menstrual cycle, her four phases and how this impacts your life from the inside out send her an email.