The power of a period

Why cycle synching might be a superpower

Period hacking, cycle synching, biohacking; you’d be mistaken for thinking working with your body’s natural rhythms is new-age science. And for many of us, it is. If your menstrual knowledge stems from the sealed section of teen mags and ads that swap blood for blue fluid, then this is for you. 

Our bodies aren’t programmed for the 9-5 workday

We know that traditionally, many products have been tested on men, making life uncomfortable (and often unsafe) for women. Studies show the consequences of gendered car crash testing and drug trials, and we’ve all experienced the pain of headphones, uniforms and kettlebells that never quite seem to fit. Well, the same goes for the workplace.

Modern workplaces were designed before women fully participated in them, so it’s no surprise they fit around the needs of men. What may be a surprise is that men also have hormonal cycles – theirs restarts every 24 hours. For men, the 9-5 makes perfect sense; their testosterone levels peak in the morning, ready for a productive workday. As their levels slightly dip over the course of the day, they ease nicely into social mode and then sleep. 

Women also follow this circadian rhythm, but ours is affected by a second, more dominant layer: the moon-influenced infradian cycle. Yes, you open your laptop with gusto one day, then tired resignation the next because your body is programmed to do that.

Big hormones = big ramifications

Those gendered drug trials? They favoured male subjects because women’s hormones might interfere with the results. It’s ironic, really; we know how powerful women’s hormones are, yet design the world as if they don’t exist.

While many of us have been blissfully unwillingly unaware of the huge role our cycles play in our lives, those same cycles have been causing havoc with them. Take British Olympic runner Jessica Judd. One of the fastest women on the planet, her 3,000m time can vary by up to 15 seconds depending on the stage of her menstrual cycle. That’s the difference between a Gold medal and last place. 

Plodders best pay attention, too. Doing the same exercises at different times in your cycle might impact the results. We don’t believe in working out for free. 

The impacts aren’t limited to physical pursuits. Workplace studies seem to focus on ‘presenteeism’, the tendency to be physically present yet unproductive during our periods. Frankly, this focus on our down days feels like another form of discrimination – this little slice of our cycle hides a much bigger (and brighter) picture. Horses can run consistently for long periods of time, and Cheetahs only last 30 seconds. Pitted against each other, our money’s on the fastest animal on earth. Our point? Consistency might be king, but cadence is queen.

The four stages of the female cycle

This is part one of a two-part series. Next week, we’ll share simple ways to work with your cycle instead of against it, but for now, a teaser: these are the four hormonal stages of our cycles:

  • Menstruation: Starts on day one of your period and lasts 3-7 days
  • Follicular Phase: Starts when your period ends and lasts 7-10 days
  • Ovulation: 3-4 days in the middle of your cycle
  • Luteal Phase: the 10-14 days right before menstruation

Each stage brings its own superpowers once we know how to harness them. It’s 2024; it’s time to move on from ‘jokes’ about blood stains and bad tempers and embrace our badass bodies.

Take action

Pay attention this week; how are your energy levels? How focused or collaborative are you feeling? What’s your social battery level?

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