Cherrelle Slaney
A photo of Cherrelle Slaney, period and menstrual cycle educator, wearing a bralette.

The Total Guide To Hormones and Body Confidence

Let’s talk about how your menstrual cycle can affect your body confidence. Through the different phases of the menstrual cycle, you have changes in your hormone levels which can affect both your mood and your physical appearance.

Do you feel rubbish about yourself just before you’re due on? Yet just two weeks earlier you were feeling super confident? Or perhaps you notice that your body feels different one week to the next. Your menstrual cycle plays a huge part in these changes.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you’ll know I’m obsessed with my cycle. For anyone who hasn’t heard me talk about this I will quickly explain the basics. You have 4 phases in your cycle, each with their own set of hormone changes which can really affect your mood and your energy levels.

the menstrual cycle seasons

We can liken thes phases to the seasons of the year, so you have:

menstruation – which is when you’re on your period.

pre-ovulation –which is exactly what it sounds like – its the time between your period ending and when you ovulate.

ovulation -you can tell when you’re ovulating by changes in your cervical fluid. And lastly,

• the premenstrual phase, which is the time between ovulation and the start of your next period.

When you get your next period the cycle starts again and you’re back to the Winter phase.

the premenstrual phase

Let’s start with your premenstrual phase, because if any of the phases has you feeling shitty, likely it will be this one. With this phase comes this inner critic. We are way more self-critical during this phase than any other, so that negative self talk is likely more prominent here.

Couple that with the fact that you’re holding water, bloated and potentially even constipated – it’s no wonder you’re not feeling your best. A rise in progesterone leading up to your period can slow your gut down, causing some of these digestive symptoms. You’re looking physically different and your mind is not feeling kind about it. It can be really hard to love yourself during this phase.

menstruation

Menstruation – this is when you’re on your period. When you get to this part of the menstrual cycle, you get a huge hormone dip which signals your body to start bleeding. The major dip in hormones which causes you to bleed, also gets your gut moving again. This can lead to, yep – more bloating.

That same hormone dip also creates a release of tension though. That frustration you might have been feeling about your body in the premenstrual phase often gets released.

With the menstrual phase, comes hibernation. Okay, not literally – but your energy levels are at an all time low here. Makeup is a no go, doing your hair is absolutely not happening, and you’re wearing the same baggy sweats for 3 days in a row. You might look in the mirror and just feel a bit “bleurgh” – but that’s okay.

Although you’re probably not looking and feeling your best here, positive self talk is much easier. You’ll probably find you’re more able to be kind to yourself.

pre-ovulation

Your pre-ovulatory phase is when things start to get a little more interesting. This phase sees you feeling a little more carefree – so you’re more likely to let go of some of your insecurities here.

You’ve come out of the period cave, and you’re excited to be wearing your favourite clothes again. Maybe you’re experimenting with new makeup or getting some beauty treatments in. (Side note: if you’re a waxer, this is a good time to get it done because it actually hurts less.)

That bloating you’ve had through Autumn and Winter is fading away at this point, and your boobs are likely softer during this phase too. Although there are physical changes happening here, the biggest shift is in the mindset. Suddenly you’re feeling playful and flirty. You’re likely just feeling way more confident.

ovulation

Here, your energy is super high. Your mood is lifted and everything in the world suddenly just seems way more attractive to you – including yourself.

Physically, your boobs will be perkier at this point. Your skin is likely at it’s best, and that water retention and bloating you had earlier in the cycle is gone. But again, it’s that mental shift that’s most important.

You’ll be feeling your best, super confident and more inclined to love what you see in the mirror. At the end of the day, ovulation is baby making time, so it makes sense that this is the phase where you’re feeling your most attractive. If any of the phases has you feeling yourself, this will be the one.

You can see how your mood and your physical changes impact the way you feel about your body. And it’s important to realise what effect your hormones have here. I find it really useful to understand how I’m likely to feel during each phase, because it helps me be more rational.

Instead of looking in the mirror and being harsh on myself during my Autumn phase, I understand that my body is just doing it’s thing. That my mind is overly critical here. It just helps to know that, and to put those feelings of inadequacy to one side until I’m in a better headspace.

It’s about working with your cycle to become more empowered within yourself. The only way to know for sure what’s going to work for you is to start tracking your cycle and noting how you feel each day of the month. Once you know where the “sore spots” are going to be, you can plan ahead to make them a little easier for yourself.

cycle tracking

journal sheet

Tracking your cycle is a fundamental step when it comes to figuring out your menstrual cycle – and how to make the most of it. Lucky for you pal, I have a free journalling sheet you can use. Simply add your details below.

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