Backstory - Synching Sex With our Menstrual Cycle
Before I understood anything formalized about sex and women’s health, I knew that the contraceptive pill did not work for me.
Imagine an acne-laden 23 year old, who was prescribed the birth control pill in hopes of clearing up her acne (which failed to do so). All I can recall from that time, was the recurring thought: This just isn’t right. I am not meant to ingest this. Never. Again.
I decided to quit the pill and tackle my hormonal acne with food. Armed with a copy of The Perricone Prescription by Dr Nicholas Perricone, I kept focus on healthy fats, green tea and vegetables. I was not a convert, but it taught me a lot about the connection between skin and the food we eat.
Fast forward into mid-20’s
My acne had cleared with the help of continual conscious eating, but my libido began to flat-line as my relationship to my now-husband moved well into long-term terrain. I became passive in my own sex life. I simply did not care about, nor do, anything to nurture it. I had to move past this funk if I wanted our relationship to progress.
Rather than complete a one-off workshop, or download an e-book about this loaded topic, I enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Sexology. This education opened my eyes to the importance of body literacy and pleasure as a priority. Yet, what really had begun to amplify my learnings was offering my own work.
In 2012, I went through an unveiling of my libido and mojo, and grew a keen interest in the erotic through books, dance, bodywork, retreats and in-depth home practices. I became hooked. Naturally, my education had segued into the awareness of eating for my hormones, and luckily, I struck gold. I ordered Alisa Vitti’s Woman Code to devour. I began to harness the power of my cycle with food, and recognized the symbiosis at play - what I ate influenced my cycle and libido.
I discovered that my pre-menstrual symptoms were not to be taken as part and parcel of the whole feminine experience. When I addressed the root cause of my week-long rock solid boobs, and spotting leading up to my period, I took a gasp. It came to my attention that the daily soy consumption was at the heart of it all. My greatly heralded “health food” was actually causing hormonal disruption in the form of oestrogen dominance. This occurs when the body (most notably the liver) does not have the opportunity to effectively eliminate excess oestrogen, so a whole bunch of other symptoms can arise. For me, it was sore breasts and a strange period with low libido. For you, it could be pain with sex, feeling depressed, etc.
At the time of eating for my cycle, I was also driven by a desire to get pregnant. I had experienced a miscarriage 18 months prior, and wanted to ensure the home for my next baby was well cleared out before coming along. Outside of pregnancy and breastfeeding, I have been syncing sex and food with my cycle since 2013, and I love it. I do not practice it religiously, but rather use my symptoms as a compass in order to feel the most aligned in my body. This allows me to relate my current experience with where my hormones currently are, in order to lead my fullest life.
Whilst diving into the intricacies of ‘how to eat for your cycle’ may be too much for this article, I will, however explain how I sync sex with my cycle. I do this because we women aren’t one-in-the-same every day, and neither are our feelings about sex (or our bodies, our conversations, our energy levels, our ability to be OUT there). Like the moon, we wax and wane. So, rather than attempting to be a big, bright full moon every single day, I say we all drop the mask and work with our natural flow.
When I abandoned the notion of always having to be ON, my life carried much less resistance. Now that I know what I know, when sex is propositioned, I check-in where I currently am in my cycle because it informs me of my needs, and what kind of sex I would like to experience.
How I sync sex through the four cycle phases:
When I’m in my follicular phase, it's like Spring! Oh yeah. I always feel a lightness kick-in when I stop bleeding, as my energy levels rise for creativity, connection and libidinous endeavors! This phase always expands me to become a far more chilled-out problem solver.
What does that mean for sex? It's the primo time of your cycle to try NEW things.
New skills, new positions, new places, new breath-work, new toys, new role.
Basically, we are most open to learning, experimenting and exploring, and this trifecta is going to create a portal for shifting our sex life. This phase slightly de-personalizes everything, so we can potentially avoid the downward spiral of ‘powerlessness’ and ‘worthlessness’ that other phases may take you down.
My guiding question in this phase is: What can I learn?
So, try something new in your sex life. Try snuggling for a moment longer afterwards (yup, lay in the mess), try a new time of day (even 8pm over 10pm), try giving yourself permission to take more time with arousal or to make a little bit more eye contact.
Are you on fire?
Are you glowing? Magnetic? Feeling sane?
That's ovulation working its M A G I C.
It might see you with your highest energy levels, clearest communication skills and a peaking libido.
“Why can't I be like this more often??” You may ask.
During ovulation, I say yes to a lot of social ‘stuff.’ I feel insanely connected to people, and sex is definitely on the radar. If you typically need a lot of warm-up during the other phases, then this is your chance to move things a little faster because your body is a big green light for play. Orgasm typically arrives faster, there is naturally already a vaginal lubrication because of fertile cervical mucus, your body is already warmed up for touch and you may be turning your head twice to get a better look at someone (or them at you!)
If intercourse is going to happen and you don't want a bebe crying in your arms in 9 months time, then use protection. My favourite form of contraception is the condom because they don't cause any hormonal disruption, and have a compelling success rate.
As I write this, I am in the phase before menstruation starts. I organically tend to de-clutter, stay in and start to slow the pace of life down where I can. When it comes to sex, I don't want touch to be as fast and high-voltage as in my ovulatory phase. Arousal takes longer to build, orgasm takes longer to arrive and I need more full body touch and down-regulation to feel present. All of this is normal for this quieter phase. I genuinely love feeling the second Testosterone peak that greets me halfway between ovulation and bleeding, too. It's a nice pick-me-up, and taps me on the shoulder to initiate sex before going very inward during bleeding.
If you know you are in your luteal phase and it's a ‘yes’ for you to have sex, just a heads up, you may desire a little bit more lovemaking than f*cking. Maybe more gentle, less thrusty.
Do you feel it? All the weird, foggy clarity at this time? We are in our true wise woman (our inner crone) when we bleed.
My libido during this phase isn't high for sexual expression but it is high for ideas about the way I want my life to be. The real key of the menstrual phase that I learnt through Woman Code is that whilst you may ‘download’ many ideas, wait until you are out of this phase to act on them. A little bit of time will tell what you want to follow through with, and what was simply just an idea.
Try not to push yourself during this time. When I go to the gym (if I want to go), I simply sit on one of those lazy bikes and spin for 15 minutes. Gentle movement is key. If I become irritated during this phase, I can trace it back to the fact that there is something present in my life that I push through, or tolerate, during other phases of my cycle. Really listen during this time to what isn’t working for you.
Take it S L O W.
And if you feel like sexual expression, go for it. The uterine contractions of orgasm can actually help you shed and release your bleed in a really natural way, and even promote relief from cramps.
If you don't want to engage in sex during your menstrual phase, this is totally normal. I'm more open to purely ‘giving’ during this time rather than receiving (if my energy is up for it). Otherwise, the follicular phase has some fun in store, so feel free to save up your juice for that block of time.
Syncing sex with my cycle has given me permission to be changeable, honoring where I am, therefore guiding me in different ways. It has also given the added benefit of opening up new communication channels with my husband so that he knows where I am at.
Moving with our body’s ancient wisdom really is the definition of empowerment.
Now, I would love to know, would you consider syncing sex with your cycle?
Lauren is a qualified sexologist who assists many satisfied clients to drop their anxiety and reinvigorate sexual power in their intimate lives. Through her one-on-one sessions, writing and online classes and program, she helps women release their physical and psychological blocks so that they can liberate their libidos for both sex and life.