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22 Feb 2019 (Last updated 24 Jan 2024)

A guide to cycle syncing and sex

Sexual Health 7 min read
Smile Makers Author
period pants illustration by pink bits

Does cycle syncing work?

For vulva owners who are cyclical, what does syncing our menstrual cycle have to do with sex? Cycle syncing is a practice for people who menstruate to track specifically where we are in our monthly(ish) cycle, then planning our lifestyle and activities around it!

"The practice of planning workouts around the menstrual cycle to optimize fitness results, known as “cycle syncing,” has permeated mainstream fitness, too" (Gupta, 2023).

Why cycle syncing can be a life-changer.

Barely have time for all the other practices and things on the to-do list? Don’t worry, keeping track has never been easy! There are many apps for cycle syncing, and much of our wearable tech often has an option to add period tracking; so, it can effortlessly fit into our days and help us see it as part of our daily routine. Small considerations can result in the big benefits! It may sound like common sense: opting for a hot yoga class during our period or going for a strenuous hike when our energy is back up the following week. However, the way we approach our social and working lives often means we push ourselves in the name of productivity, and forget to listen to what our bodies are actually telling us.

We could describe our traditional collective method to work-life balance as linear, somewhat masculine perhaps. Cycle syncing is a much needed reminder that we are all governed by our own inner seasons, and that the change in hormone levels throughout can impact how we feel. This doesn’t mean that we should hibernate half of the month. In fact, it means that during our less energetic phases (around and during menstruation) we are guided inward, towards planning and reflection; breaking up the outward focused goal-chasing we are otherwise encouraged to participate in.

From what to eat (hormone friendly nutrients, anyone?) to how we should approach conflict and social occasions, cycle syncing enthusiasts advocate that this is a great way to work in harmony with our body and biohack the menstrual cycle to get the most out of our month.

So, what does this have to do with sex?

Our hormones take us on a journey over the course of our cycle and this affects our desire and response to sexual stimulation. So, it’s kind of a no brainer that we can take what we learn from the tracking practice and apply it to our sex lives, for optimal pleasure potential! Below, we've broken down how we *might* feel during each phase when it comes to sexual activity.

The menstrual cycle phases for sex.

Note: everyone’s cycle length differs, but this rough guide may help us suss out our bodies even more so.

infographic of the menstrual cycle phases and sex

Menstruation phase summary: days 1 - 5.

If you have your period, you are likely to be bleeding for a few days, maybe even a week. The lining of your uterus is shedding. Your energy and hormones are at their lowest. This is a good time for reviewing, analysing and reflection.

What this means for your sex life - You may choose to honour this time by cocooning at home, journaling, experimenting with erogenous-focused vibrators and generally taking things at a leisurely Goddess pace. If you do feel like having sex, this is a perfect time to experiment with lubricants as we tend to be more dry during this phase - partnered or solo! Really do what you are most comfortable with at this stage as your body is likely to be more sensitive to touch. You might also feel more meditative, even spiritual. This is because of the reflective nature of menstruation. It could be a wonderfully powerful time to connect with your body or your partner on a deeper level with tantra practises; bring all your consciousness to the act, linger your touches, sync your breath and gooey eye gazing.

Pretty intense stuff!

Got menstrual cramps but still in the mood? Over 3,500 women who took a HealthLine survey said orgasms relieve their cramps. The cocktail of positive hormones released when we reach climax, including oxytocin which relaxes the uterus, not only physiologically eases the pain, but can naturally boost our mood too. So, why not try period sex?

Follicular phase summary: days 6 - 14.

This is like springtime for the female body. Hormones are starting to increase in concentration. You begin to feel more creative and engaged in new things. The absolute perfect time for setting intentions.

What this means for your sex life - You may be less inclined towards quickie-style sex as, hormonally, this is a great time to try something new and build intimacy with a partner or yourself. This is the time for renewal, so if you’re in a funk or need to get something off of your chest, you can communicate now clearly and creatively while being open to experimentation. Go-to sexual activities? Massages, lots of outercourse or self-pleasure with erotica. Slow oral sex could also feel right on cue as you might be leaning towards “receiving” more (we know just the product for this.) Your follicular time of the month is all about building; be it communication, sensation and, of course, arousal.

Ovulatory phase summary: days 15 - 17.

During this phase, your hormones are really surging as the body is in baby-making mode. You might find yourself more chatty and social, with your desire to connect with people being at its highest.

What this means for your sex life - Feminine, sociable and impulsive. Your hormones are peaking and you’re likely to be feeling your best right now; it will be showing too. Some menstruators might experience ovulation-pain during this time; if that’s you, remember to listen to your body and go slow during partner sex. Lots of external play with a lover can create an opportunity to communicate what feels best, and show what you like right now. Singletons; this is prime dating and group hang time as you’ll be feeling really playful and flirty.

If baby-making is on the cards, this is the time to really have fun and get busy! Your desire is likely to be at its highest so you might be feeling particularly spontaneous and risque. Just before you ovulate, testosterone surges make us extra frisky. If your partner has a penis, try morning sex! Men’s testosterone is highest when they first wake up, so this is a perfect time of day to sync up your horniness, too!

If you’re not planning on a family any time soon, don’t let the risk go too far! You will need to be particularly careful with contraception.

Luteal phase summary: days 18 - 28.

Your hormones are at their highest peak, before they take a very quick decline during menstruation. It is normal to feel particularly emotional and irritable around this time, especially if you experience symptoms of PMS.

You may still be feeling the hot flush of your inner summer (yes, we can think about the pages of our menstrual cycle like seasons, cool huh?). However, as it begins to wane, your hormones are about to quickly decline. It could be that despite really wanting sex, you feel like “getting there” is taking forever. So, slow down! It’s totally normal at this phase for you to need extra stimulation and lubrication. This is the perfect time to introduce new toys with your partner or experiment with combinations of vibrators when you are solo. Try bathtime with a vibrator where you can really relax; focus on sensation rather than the end goal and let what will be, be.

And then back to the menstruation phase (unless we had a lot of fun during ovulation!). When we see our phases mapped out for us like this, the idea of cycle syncing seems a lot less daunting and a great way to honour and enjoy our cycles.

If you want to give cycle syncing a go here our top rated apps;

  • Flo Period & Ovulation - great for pre and post pregnancy info.
  • MyFlo App - great for syncing with partners, personalised recommendations, recipe suggestions and hormone info.
  • Dot - great for period and detailed symptom tracking.
For sexual wellness content that inspires even more pleasure in your life, follow @SmileMakersCollection - or check out our colorful collection of different types of vibrators for beginners and beyond.
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