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Natural cycle and exercise

Let's have a look at the different phases of the natural menstrual cycle and how the events and hormones may have an affect of your body's ability to perform physically. Obviously with IVF and other treatments, you may be taking synthetic hormones which could exaggerate the body's response. 


Menstruation/menses Approximately day 1-5

During this phase, the lining fo your uterus which was built up is beginning to shed. Day one is considered the first day of a full flow. During the initial days, progesterone and estrogen levels are at their lowest, along with the loss of blood, you may feel extra tired. Your mood may also be a little lower at this point, particularly if it means another unsuccessful month. 

Suggested movement practices during your period:

Yoga - hatha or yin



Light cardio

Light strength training


Follicular phase Approximately day 1-12

From the beginning of your period to before ovulation, the follicular phase is all about stimulating the ovaries to create eggs inside follicles. The hormone most at play here is follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Estrogen also rises which increases your general energy levels. This is an ideal time to increase intensity or try new activities. 

Suggested movement practices during this phase:

High intensity interval training (HIIT)


Spin class

Strength training


Ovulation phase Approximately days 12-16

The ovulation is between the follicular and luteal phases. It's the time where estrogen, luteinising hormone (LH) and FSH peak and trigger the body to release the dominant follicle. It typically lasts three to five days. Energy levels generally remain high, you can continue with the higher impact exercises at this point.

Luteal phase Approximately day 16 - 28

This is the last phase of your cycle (typically longer than 12 days) before your period returns or you find out you're pregnant. Right after ovulation, you will most likely continue to have increased energy levels, you can maintain high intensity exercise and slowly tapering as the days progress. Progesterone is at its peak, which can make some people feel sluggish. 

If you're taking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) you will notice an elevated level, with an increased core body temperature, endurance sports may be more challenging, perhaps leading to an avoidable injury. Towards the end of the luteal phase with the onset of PMS symptoms, it's time to again, slow down and build the connection back into your body with pilates or slow strength training. This is a highly anxious time for those who are TTC so slowing things down and being gentle with yourself, trying to stay present is not only helpful for your body, but also your mental health.

If you are starting to experience early pregnancy symptoms, the movement suggestions are the same.

Suggested movement practices during the later luteal phase:

Hatha or yin yoga


Low-intensity cardio


Mindfulness practice

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