Understanding and Navigating the Premenstrual Phase: Embracing Inner Autumn

Perrine Pauwels
Perrine Pauwels

menstrual-cycle-autumn.jpgEmbracing the natural rhythm of your menstrual cycle means understanding and honouring the premenstrual phase as a powerful and transformative time.

The premenstrual phase, commonly known as PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), is a natural yet often misunderstood aspect of the menstrual cycle. It is also called Inner Autumn because of our energy gradually becoming more inward in preparation for our menstruation or Inner Winter.

Let's delve into what this phase really involves and how to navigate it. Instead of seeing it as solely challenging, we'll discover how it can be a powerful and productive experience when approached with understanding and self-care. We'll also touch on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), a more severe condition affecting a small percentage of women during this phase.

What is the Premenstrual Phase?

The premenstrual phase, also known as the luteal phase, marks the period leading up to your bleed. Spanning about two weeks, this phase is characterised by hormonal shifts, including declining oestrogen and rising and then declining progesterone levels.

These hormonal changes can bring about physical and emotional shifts such as mood swings, irritability, fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness, and heightened sensitivity, which give the premenstrual phase its reputation for being difficult.

So, what exactly happens? After ovulation, when oestrogen levels are at their peak and everything often feels wonderful, oestrogen drops temporarily, leading to a shift in mood and energy. You'll probably feel off for a day or two after your ovulatory phase. That's when irritability, mood swings, and heightened sensitivity may start.

After that, oestrogen rises again as well as progesterone as they're now produced by the follicle that released the egg during your ovulation, which turned 'corpus luteum' to help thicken the lining of your uterus in preparation for pregnancy. This rise in progesterone brings an inward focus, decreased outward energy, and a greater need for rest, introspection and self-reflection.

If you don't get pregnant that cycle, the corpus luteum dissolves towards the end of the premenstrual phase, leading to a drop in both oestrogen and progesterone.

While it's true that the premenstrual hormonal shifts can be challenging, it's important to remember that they are a natural part of your body's processes—not a syndrome as the term PMS might imply. Understanding and knowing how to navigate the premenstrual phase can actually make it an empowering experience.

Navigating the Premenstrual Phase

So how can you turn your premenstrual phase into a transformative and productive time?

Setting Boundaries

Firstly, it's vital to understand your needs and set boundaries to support yourself. Say no to unnecessary things so you can dedicate your energy to things that you feel a full-bodied yes to!

While you may feel invincible during your inner summer or ovulation, remember that your energy levels will dip during your inner autumn and it will get harder to sustain a full schedule. Try not to take on too much during ovulation, so you can navigate the luteal phase more smoothly.

Honouring the Fire Within

As oestrogen levels drop, you might find yourself grappling with emotions like anger, irritation or sadness. It's essential to acknowledge and feel them fully, and finding a healthy way of expressing them, for example through dance or a walk in nature.

You may then be able to channel this inner fire into a heightened focus and productivity, ticking tasks off your to-do-list and harvesting what you created during your inner spring and summer.

Navigating Negative Self-Talk and Inner Critic

It's quite common for women to encounter negative self-talk and inner criticism more intensely during inner autumn.

Rather than letting self-doubt take over, you can use this time for inner exploration and challenging limiting beliefs, cultivating a more empowering inner dialogue with kindness and understanding. When you hear an inner saboteur voice saying "you're not worthy," it's usually a sign that something needs your attention!

By confronting your inner critic and understanding its underlying messages, you can pinpoint areas in your life that could use some adjustments. This self-reflection sets the stage for personal growth and transformation. And as you move into the inner spring and summer of your next cycle, you'll feel the renewed energy to make those changes a reality.

Embracing Introversion and Self-Acceptance

In a society that values extroversion and productivity over introversion and rest, you may feel pressure to conform to these expectations. Remember that it's okay to embrace a slower pace in the second half of your cycle as your body prepares for its monthly cleanse at menstruation.

Take this time to connect with yourself, reflect, and practice self-acceptance. By honoring your inner needs, you'll foster a deeper sense of self-awareness and authenticity.

Understanding PMDD: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

For around 3-8% of women, the premenstrual phase becomes extremely challenging due to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). PMDD brings about debilitating physical and psychological symptoms, such as intense cramps, insomnia, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

It's important to understand that PMDD is not the norm and may indicate an underlying hormonal imbalance and/or unresolved trauma.

Seeking professional help and exploring treatment options are vital steps in managing PMDD effectively. Before turning to synthetic medication, consider lifestyle adjustments, trauma therapy, and holistic approaches to hormone balance. Our validated practitioners at Sissoo offer nutritional advices, womb massages, yoga sessions and meditations that can help you manage your symptoms and lessen chronic pain.

Conclusion

The premenstrual phase is a crucial stage of your menstrual cycle filled with opportunities for growth and self-discovery.

By understanding the hormonal shifts and respecting our body's natural rhythm, we can learn to navigate this phase more confidently. Embracing our inner autumn allows us to tap into our inner strength, confront challenges, and nurture out true selves.

If you're interested in learning more about the menstrual cycle phases and how they reflect nature's seasons, check out this article.

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