What to Eat During Your Menstrual Cycle

We’re often highly motivated to eat healthy foods and exercise in preparation for bathing suit season, and that’s not a bad thing. But there are other things to consider when crafting the ultimate healthy diet. Fueling your body with the right foods and nutrients is one component to ensure the highest possible chances of conceiving a child.

There are four phases to a woman’s menstrual cycle – menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase. It’s beneficial to include fertility boosting foods during each phase. Let’s look at what to eat (and avoid) during your menstrual cycle going forward.

Menstruation

It is likely that you feel crampy, moody, tired, and bloated during this part of your monthly cycle, which is normal. Over the three days to a week that you’re actively menstruating, you’ll lose approximately 35-40 ml of blood, and that can make even healthy women slightly anemic due to the resulting loss of iron. What to eat during menstruation? Try your hardest to consume iron-rich foods during this time.

Examples include leafy green vegetables, lean meats, seeds, beans, and fish. While a good steak once a month is never a bad idea, fueling up on fish during this time can deliver an extra boost of Omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory elements, too. Foods that are rich in vitamin C help the body absorb iron from other foods, so stock up on citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, and anything fortified with the vitamin. Conversely, stay away from alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine, as these can cause heavier menstrual bleeding and result in a greater loss of iron.

healthy-diet-during-menstruation

Add this to the menu: Grilled petite rib-eye steak with a southwestern bean salad.

Follicular Phase

This phase of your monthly cycle is characterized by heightened estrogen levels. Your body will be hard at work trying to develop a dominant follicle. If you’re having trouble conceiving, especially if it is due to endometriosis or fibroids, your body may be flooded with too much estrogen. In this case, try to consume foods that not only support follicle development but also help you metabolize estrogen as efficiently as possible.

Examples include green vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, and legumes. Cruciferous vegetables, like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are packed with a phytonutrient called diindolylmethane (DIM), which helps normalize estrogen levels. While you’re at it, stay away from alcohol during the follicular phase, as it can quickly dehydrate the body, cause hormonal imbalance, and even cause cervical mucus to thicken to an undesirable level.

Add this to the menu: Grilled chicken breast with a side of sautéed cauliflower and garlic.

Ovulation

During the ovulation phase, the body is seeking as much B vitamins as you can deliver. B vitamins are used to encourage and support the healthy release of the egg and a successful implantation. Zinc is another important nutrient during this phase, too. Essential fatty acids, also called EFAs, are a necessary supplement during ovulation, as they help encourage blood flow to the uterus and promote the opening of the follicle to release the egg in a timely manner. Fuel up on foods that are rich in B vitamins, zinc, and EFAs.

Examples include whole grains, meat, fish, eggs, legumes, and leafy greens. Also, ensure you take in plenty of water so your body is always adequately hydrated. Water plays an important role during ovulation, as it helps follicle development, transports hormones around the body, and even thins out cervical mucus, which increases the likelihood of pregnancy during traditional methods of conception. As in the previous two phases, stay away from alcohol. Try to also limit overly processed foods, acidic substances, and coffee.

eating-healthy-during-pregnancy

Add this to the menu: Baked salmon, brown rice, and a helping of spinach or broccoli sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

Luteal Phase

This part of the monthly menstrual cycle demands nutrients that support and encourage cellular growth. Most nutritionists will encourage a diet rich in beta-carotene and bromelain. The trick is to eat foods that are fertility boosting foods but also support continual progesterone production, which is needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy over the long run.

Examples include pineapple, warm vegetable soups, leafy greens (preferably cooked and served hot), carrots, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes.

Stay away from cold foods or raw vegetables, as cold temperatures can cause your system to constrict and create a less-than-favorable environment for cell growth. Ice cream and frozen yogurt are no-nos during this time.

Add this to the menu: A bowl of steak chili. Don’t worry about it being too spicy – now is the time to turn up the heat! Cool it off with a dollop of sour cream, or eat a few pieces of pineapple on the side.

Eating healthy to fit into a swimsuit might feel important toward the end of the cold-weather months, but eating to promote the highest probability of a successful pregnancy outweighs any pool-related motivations. Consider the tips above, then consult our staff at Red Rock Fertility to ensure you’re eating all the right fertility boosting foods to increase your chances of conception.

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