Scents According to your menstrual cycle
Our monthly cycle not only affects our physical wellbeing (hello bloating and spots!) and hormone levels - it also affects our senses. You may have noticed that your sense of smell is affected by where you are in your cycle, but did you know there are certain scents that could help you feel lifted at different times of the month?
To help women identify the perfect scent by cycle match, we've spoken to registered GP, Dr Aarti Denning to help us to map our monthly hormones, and trained aromatherapist, Abi Titterington-Lough to recommend which scents to use accordingly.
Phase 1 of your cycle: The Menstrual Phase
Day 1 of your period signifies the start of your cycle meaning that your Oestrogen and Progesterone levels are low, but start to steadily increase just a couple of hours into your period. "As Oestrogen levels climb - your brain starts to release more endorphins that make you feel optimistic – a sign that the feel-good chemical, serotonin is kicking in. Within 24 to 48 hours of your period commencing, you begin to feel more positive and confident", says Dr Aarti. "You are likely to also experience menstruation tiredness and fatigue, especially during a heavy period, so consider adding more iron or iron supplements to your diet around this time".
"Whilst you're likely to be feeling lethargic, consider wearing a fresh and zesty fragrance from the citrus family such as grapefruit, bergamot or juniper and pair with rosemary to give yourself a much-needed boost of energy. When applying fragrance to your usual pulse points (I.e. neck and wrists) add an extra squirt on to your stomach – this will help the scent to radiate for longer as you sweat less from this area and there's no risk of being washed off throughout the day", says Abi Titterington-Lough.
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Phase 2 of your cycle: The Follicular Phase
Your period is likely to be out of the way by now and your body is moving into ovulation mode. Oestrogen levels are on the rise as your body is preparing to release an egg. "In evolutionary biology terms, your body wants to ensure that you are in the right company to 'mate'. Testosterone levels are significant, giving your libido a good boost. You feel feminine (oestrogen), sexy (testosterone) and assertive (testosterone)", says Dr Aarti.
"You're releasing captivating and sensual pheromones whilst your senses reach their peak – this is the perfect opportunity to fill your room with aromas such as amber, sandalwood and patchouli, that echo your sensual mood," suggests Titterington-Lough. "Light a candle, or for a longer-lasting scent opt for a reed diffuser instead."
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Phase 3 of your cycle: The Ovulation Phase
Your body is ready for baby-making and the food cravings are getting real. "Oestrogen levels plummet, as do the levels of 'happy' hormones in your system. This could make you feel rather listless, moody and even teary", says Dr Aarti. 'This is that stage in which the body goes into full pregnancy preparation mode and you urge to seek solace in a partner, making you susceptible to feelings of 'clinginess'. Levels of Progesterone also start to climb now, making you feel calmer and more relaxed as a result. Ensure that you choose your foods wisely at this stage as if you eat too much of the wrong foods, you're likely to be left feeling hungry and irritable as a result."
"Avoid overstimulation during this phase of your cycle and instead choose relaxing and restorative notes such as vetiver, frankincense and lavender. Consider using an indulgent body moisturiser or 100% natural essential oils before bedtime – they will absorb into the skin whilst you sleep, helping to aid a deep and restful slumber", says Titterington-Lough.
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Phase 4 of your cycle: The Luteal Phase
Prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster this week. "Low Testosterone and Oestrogen levels may cause disruption to your sleep, leaving you to feel tired and when paired with a spike in progesterone, bloated and irritable to boot. Try practising self-care during this stage of your cycle to help ease any PMS symptoms – eat healthy foods and consider taking classes, such as yoga or meditation that will help ease your mind as well as your body."
"You're likely to be craving calm in this stage of your cycle so to help restore some much-needed equilibrium, consider adding heartwarming florals like rose, geranium and pink lotus oils to your bath", recommends Titterington-Lough. "The combination of warm water will soothe any aches and cramps, and the scent will help restore inner peace."