HORMONE SERIES | Get to Know Your Follicular Phase (+ Smoothie Recipe!)
Before we jump into the particulars of the Follicular Phase, let’s briefly chat about what an “ideal” cycle looks like. An ideal cycle ranges anywhere from 25 to 35 days. Any longer and ovulation may be occurring too late in the cycle and any sooner and ovulation may be occurring too early in the cycle. Additionally, a “normal” period will vary from 2 to 7 days (4 to 5 days being optimal) and should appear cranberry red in color with the consistency of maple syrup. I highly recommend tracking your period to gain a greater understanding of the physical and emotional symptoms you experience throughout your cycle. This practice will foster a deeper connection with your body and possibly help you get to the root of your particular symptoms and concerns. My favorite tracker app is MyFlo, but there are plenty of options available.
On to the Follicular Phase! This phase begins on Day 1 of bleeding and should ideally be 11 days long. A short follicular phase could indicate an insufficiency of estrogen or too much progesterone, while a longer follicular phase could signify excess estrogen. During this phase, your pituitary gland releases a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) that stimulates the follicles in your ovaries to mature. Fun fact – the follicle chosen each month was selected from the pool of follicles approximately 4 months earlier giving you ample time to nourish it with vitamins, nutrients, and hormones. Consider the Follicular Phase your Estrogen Dominance phase because as you near ovulation, estrogen levels begin to rise. Estrogen makes your skin look better, suppresses your appetite, and boosts energy, mood, and brain skills. In fact, many women find it easier to lose weight during the Follicular Phase!
Food Focus – During the Follicular Phase, modify your diet slightly to include more foods that support estrogen production. Try to incorporate pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, nut butter, eggs, pomegranates, avocados, and grass-fed butter to help build estrogen.
Exercise Focus – With energy levels high, now is the time to engage in your favorite forms of strenuous exercise. Try a spin or power yoga class!
Follicular Phase Smoothie (serves two)
· 2 cups coconut/almond/hemp milk
· 1 scoop vanilla plant-based protein
· 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
· 2 tbsp nut butter
· 1 cup frozen zucchini
· 1 cup frozen blueberries
· Handful of spinach (optional)
Blend and enjoy!