Lesson 2: Intro to Luteal Phase

Let's conduct a quick review of the previous three phases we've covered:

During the menstrual phase, you slowed down enough to intuitively check in with what your body needed in order to proceed from a fulfilled place. Then, during the follicular phase, you harnessed your creative mentality and created momentum transitioning into ovulation. Ovulation brought you energy and allowed you to attack your goals with all the energy and confidence you’ve harnessed. Now, in the luteal phase you can harvest what you created and prepare for the next round of your cycle

During the luteal stage, the ability to listen and adjust to what your body is telling you is vital. Your garden is transitioning from everything blooming, bright colors, lots of energy to a more restful, restorative stage. During this phase your body is making its biggest transition. What your garden (body) needs at the beginning of this phase verses the end can look vastly different.

Your garden has now gone through winter, spring, and summer, and now, it's again time prepare as you enter the next season. Continue you ask yourself during this luteal phase, "What does my garden need today?"


This is the fourth phase of your cycle, which is roughly days 21-28.

Season: Fall

Thinking of our garden, the leaves are starting to change color and fall to the ground. We have to prepare for winter. Racking the leaves and pruning our plants is important during this season. You may lean towards spending more time by yourself, organizing, and finishing off tasks before entering winter. 

Physiological Hormone Explanation

During this phase, our progesterone is on the rise, then fall toward the end. Once the ovum (unfertilized egg) is released from the follicle (during ovulation), it travels into the fallopian tube, where it can be fertilized, then the egg travels down into the uterus. 

  • If fertilized, the egg will implant into the endometrium (inner layer of the uterus) and the egg will develop into a fetus.
  • If not fertilized, the ovum will die and break down in the fallopian tubes, then shed with the endometrium during menstruation. 

During this process, the follicle that released the ovum will develop into the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum will secrete progesterone: 

  • If fertilized, the corpus luteum will stay alive and continue to secrete progesterone. 
  • If not fertilized, the corpus luteum will degenerate and stop producing progesterone.  

If the egg doesn’t become fertilized, the corpus luteum breaks down which causes a drop in estrogen and progesterone, which leads to menstruation. Therefore, following ovulation, estrogen will drop (although, low amounts will still be produced) whereas progesterone rises.

  • This switch can cause an imbalance, especially if there is excess estrogen.
  • This is what leads to typical PMS symptoms.

PMS Symptoms & Hormone Imbalances

As we start to talk more about nutrition in the upcoming weeks, it's important to understand that nutrition is a great way to help support the production and secretion of hormones at the right times. This doesn't mean that you can only eat certain foods at certain times, but if you are experiencing some of these symptoms and/or PMS, nutrition can be a great next step to trying to naturally support your body.

  1. Estrogen dominance
    • Symptoms include heavy, painful periods, fibroids, and breast tenderness
  2. Low progesterone
    • Symptoms include anxiety, irritability, and difficulty sleeping
  3. High testosterone
    • Symptoms include oily skin, acne, hair loss, and hirsutism

How does this affect us?

  • Superpowers:
    • The gift of this stage is adaptability:
    • We go through a lot during this phase, and our ability to adapt becomes more difficult.
  • Vulnerabilities, you may experience:
    • This phase gets a bad reputation because when hormones are unbalanced, that's when we feel the full effect of PMS (mood swings, headaches, acne, bloating, breast tenderness, etc.)
      • With progesterone peaking and estrogen levels dropping, we are often at risk for a hormonal imbalance.
      • It’s progesterone’s job to maintain this balance.
        • However, progesterone levels can be depleted when the body is under stress, which impacts the way our body breaks down fats.
        • Depleted levels can cause PMS symptoms because it creates an estrogen dominance.
    • Because this phase starts at such a high energized place and ends in a naturally lower energy, we tend to feel self-critical, exhausted, and retracted.

How to Balance

      • Focus: preparing for PMS with food rich in b-vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, fish oils and fiber
      • Promote sleep-inducing melatonin 
      • Stabilize mood with leucine-rich protein and b-vitamins 
      • Curb cravings by eating a few more good calories 
      • Prep food for comfort (roasting, baking) 
      • Higher fat utilization for workouts and higher calorie burn
      • Carbs, healthy fats, mood-boosting supplements 
    • Movement: should honor your decreasing strength
      • Mobility and recovery
      • Scale back on intensity when you feel sluggish
    • This includes activities such as: 
      • Stretching (hips especially) 
      • Power yoga (first half of phase) 
      • Restorative yoga (second half of stage) 
      • Low intensity strength training (decreasing the intensity of workouts as you approach the later portion of this phase) 
  • MENTAL GOALS: Attention turns inwards, chapter is closing.
    • Practices: 
      • Meditation 
      • Journaling: Gratitude, each day meditate on or write 3 things you’re grateful for 
      • Deep breathing 
      • Organize and clean 
      • Womb warming practices 
      • Slow down, nest and rest 
    • Checking things off your to-do list 
    • Be mindful of making an abundance of social plans 
    • Utilize your flowing creativity 
  • To-Do: attention to detail is highest
    • Checking off your to-do list 
    • Completing deadlines and tasks 
    • Nesting and organizing 
    • Administrative duties (paying bills, etc.) 
    • Self-care and detoxing 

Applied to Athletics

  • This is when I have experienced myself to be the most vulnerable with injuries.
  • We’re on a high from the ovulation phase and may have overcommitted. The second part of this stage is when our body is starting to slow down and we need to be able to recognize that it’s asking more of our bodies to do the same stuff that came natural in the ovulation phase.