With more than 84% of women experiencing painful periods, there’s no wonder why “that time of the month” is filled with negative connotations. As someone who doesn’t fall into the 84% percent noted in that study, I can still attest to factors like age, stress, and lifestyle affecting my menstrual cycle and the way I experience my periods. Gone are the days when my symptoms peaked at salty and sweet cravings, and in its wake, I’ve been introduced to cramping, low estrogen levels, and a heavier flow than I’ve experienced in all my years of having a period. Where I used to look at my periods as a time of the month when was indifferent, I am now feeling the effects and I can only imagine how the other 84% of women reporting period pain go through (more power to y’all, for real).
Two things changed the menstruating game for me. One, the conscious decision to look at my cycle for the full 28 days that it is (anywhere between 21-40 days is considered "normal.") instead of just the 5-7 days I am actually in the menstruation phase of my cycle. And two, looking into cycle syncing as a holistic way to change my relationship with my period and my cycle overall. You see, instead of acting in opposition to what I experienced during my periods, I could lean into it and restructure my life in a way that aligned with the different phases of my cycle, and therefore the different “seasons” I was in. When it comes to all that cycle syncing entails, ladies and gentlemen, this is just scratching the surface.
Berrion L. Berry, founder of Optimize Your Flo and menstrual health educator, explains, at its core that cycle syncing “is aligning different aspects of your lifestyle such as fitness, nutrition, wellness, and even business with the phases of your menstrual cycle.” And although the results could vary from person to person, it is still something she recommends to women and menstruators to see if it positively affects the way they experience their cycles. She adds that not only can cycle syncing transform your periods, but it can also evolve the way people with periods work.
“As more and more research is being conducted we’re finding things that are so unique. Did you know that there are times throughout the cycle perfect for brainstorming new ideas like during the menstrual phase?” Berry continues, “When practicing cycle syncing and understanding changes that happen, people can actually work more effectively and I think that’s incredible. Especially if you’re someone who’s looking to go from feeling burnout to embracing the soft life.”
Keep reading for the phases of the menstrual cycle and how to optimize each phase for ultimate alignment as well as potentially less painful periods.
The Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
Phase 1: Menstruation (Winter)
Phase 2: Follicular (Spring)
Phase 3: Ovulation (Summer)
Phase 4: Luteal (Fall)
Cycle Syncing During the Menstruation Phase (Days 1-7)
Menstruation is the “shedding of the uterine lining and when your period happens.” Berry notes that since the hormones are in an 'off' position during this time, your overall energy can feel low. Nourish the body with unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods and filtered water to keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady.
The Optimal Way to Nourish the Body:
"A good mix of lean proteins, healthy fats, and low GI carbs such as root vegetables, whole grain, and legume-packed stews, can support the energy-intensive process of menstruation."
The Optimal Way to Move the Body:
"Since your body is physically releasing, the best thing you can do is rest or active recovery. The reason you want to do this is so that you don’t apply additional stress (increased cortisol) to the body and create an inflamed, exhausted, or overwhelmed environment within the body.
"Light jogs, long hikes, a nice yoga flow for most people. If you’re someone who likes to train a lot, one of the best things you can do during this time is a low-intensity workout like Pilates as well, preferably mat Pilates.
Cycle Syncing During the Follicular Phase (Days 8-13)
The follicular phase is “the time between the end of the period and ovulation” and can be viewed as the “spring” season of your cycle. To prepare for ovulation, the body's hormone levels are on the rise as your egg follicles mature, Berry explains. In contrast to the low energy levels you might have felt during the menstruation phase, during the follicular phase, you may start to feel more energized.
The Optimal Way to Nourish the Body:
"Supporting your gut aids the body in processing estrogen and potential toxins that may be in your body. The more micronutrients you focus on getting during this time, the better. This is a good time to incorporate light, fresh and vibrant foods, such as salads and fermented foods like kefir, probiotic yogurt, or sauerkraut, which support gut health and detoxification."
The Optimal Way to Move the Body:
"During this time, since your hormones are beginning to rise, it’s the perfect time to pick back up on your workouts and training. Exercises like reformer Pilates, boxing, spin class anything a bit intense and vigorous is perfect for this. You may also want to consider adding a bit of resistance training in."
Cycle Syncing During the Ovulation Phase (Days 14-21)
Berry refers to the ovulation phase as “the main event” of your menstrual cycle as it is when the egg is released from the ovary. "During ovulation, hormone levels are skyrocketing and estrogen is the life of the party. It aids in the ovulation process along with a surge in LH. Our basal body temperature also increases during this time, which can impact increased energy levels."
She also adds that “ovulation is not always day 14 of a cycle no matter what you’ve been taught in the past. Ovulation can actually change based off so many things, so just make sure you know your body.”
The Optimal Way to Nourish the Body:
"Consuming foods that are nutrient-dense, but also refreshing like a smoothie bowl or salad is definitely a must. See, excess estrogen can have a negative impact on our cycle, including breast tenderness and increased spotting, however, consuming nutrients that support the liver to remove estrogen is good to include and are found in foods such as kale, broccoli, onions, garlic, and radishes."
The Optimal Way to Move the Body:
"During this time, since your hormones estrogen, LH, and testosterone have surged, it’s the perfect time to do those higher intensity workouts and anything that will have you actively sweating and increasing your heart rate. Exercises like spinning, sprinting, and heavy lifting are perfect during this phase."
Cycle Syncing During the Luteal Phase (Days 22-28)
The last phase of your menstrual cycle is “the time between ovulation and before the start of menstruation when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy if the egg is fertilized.” Berry continues, "During this phase, there's a shift in hormones, and around day 23 of your cycle, your body begins to prepare for the shed of the uterine lining. You may notice your cravings are a bit more intense, and you just want to eat everything in sight."
The Optimal Way to Nourish the Body:
"With estrogen on the decline and progesterone on the rise, you'll want to make sure that you focus on nourishing your body with additional nutrients like iron, magnesium, and zinc as well as complex carbs."
The Optimal Way to Move the Body:
"Since your body is preparing to physically release, the best thing you can do is low-intensity workouts and active recovery. The reason you want to do this is so that you don’t apply additional stress (increased cortisol) to the body and create an inflamed, exhausted, or overwhelmed environment within the body. I suggest light jogs, long hikes, or a nice yoga flow for most people."
How to Start Cycle Syncing
If you want to start cycle syncing and optimizing your period health, Berry has the perfect method to start. In her teachings, Berry recommends beginning your cycle syncing journey through a process of habit stacking where you optimize cycle syncing by building on basic healthy habits you've already mastered. Berry sums this process up with the statement, "Standardize before you optimize." Her step-by-step process to standardize healthy habits is as follows:
The O.N.E method:
- O is for "organize your meals in sync with your cycle;"
- N is for "nurture your adrenals" which Berry says means working out in sync with your cycle, making time to meditate, journal, or pray at least once a day, and getting on a regular sleep schedule;
- E is for "execute daily" which Berry created a checklist to help people with this step (download the checklist here).
After utilizing her method to standardize your healthy habits, Berry advises looking at where you are in your cycle to optimize your lifestyle habits according to the recommended lifestyle habits according to the phase you are in. For more specifics, check out her guide on fertility awareness here. "Once you know where you’re at in your cycle, I like to recommend people start with nutrition, then add fitness and wellness, but ultimately people can start with wherever they want," Berry shares.
If you are starting your cycle syncing practice and don't wish to go the DIY route, Berry has a wealth of resources, including classes that she advises period havers to take if they are looking for a step-by-step plan with all of the details. Learn more about her classes here.
For more information about cycle syncing and daily tips, follow Berry on Instagram or TikTok @berrionlberry.
Featured image by Kevin Kozicki/Getty Images
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy