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Alisa Vitti—pioneer of female biohacking, Johns Hopkins alum, women’s hormone health expert, and founder of the period-positive platform FLO Living—is sharing more from her latest book, In the FLO. It’s full of radical, groundbreaking information meant to help women understand and reconnect with their unique biological rhythm, just as nature intended.
This book shows how mainstream health plans, self-care routines, fitness regimens, time management schedules, and even the power morning concept are all founded on a system that only optimizes male biology, and leaves out the specialized and cyclical needs of women. In this piece, the Well+Good Council member shares how to have better sex more consistently by understanding the infradian rhythm: a long-ignored biological rhythm that, when properly cared for, can help you restore energy, reduce brain fog, and thrive overall.
If you’re a woman and you’re reading this, chances are that your sex life isn’t as good as it could be. In a 2015 survey by Healthy Women, 60 percent of women said just that. It’s not just a matter of quantity of sex (though a 2017 study found that Americans are having less sex than they did 10 years ago). It’s a matter of quality.
Every day, I hear about unfulfilling sex from the women who come to me for hormonal help. They’ll say, “Last week, I had sex and it was fireworks. This week, it’s flat. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.” We often internalize these different experiences as self-criticism, or we write it off as low libido. Either way, many women believe that they need to be fixed. That’s simply incorrect.
Many women believe that they need to be fixed. That’s simply incorrect.
Really, the issue comes down to being out of touch with a uniquely female biological pattern: the infradian rhythm. For women, our month-long infradian rhythm is closely tied to our full menstrual cycle and all of the hormonal shifts that come with it. Sexually speaking, our interests and desires change with our rhythm. It’s a powerful, positive aspect of being a woman—but few of us are actively aware of it, much less how we can harness it for more energy and (among other things) a more fulfilling sex life.
Let me share an example. Depending on where you are in your infradian rhythm, you may produce more or less vaginal lubrication. Women sometimes think that dryness means there’s a problem: “I’m not wet right now, so something’s wrong with me.” Actually, you might just be in your follicular phase, in which you need lube (and more novelty to get you in the mood in the first place). As I outline in my new book, In The Flo: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life, when you modulate your inputs like food, exercise, work, and even foreplay to work with your biochemistry, you not only get the results that have eluded you but you also begin to thrive in all areas of your life. The solution I share in this new book, to help you support your infradian rhythm, is called The Cycle Syncing Method™.
Sexually speaking, our interests and desires change with our rhythm.
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, what better time to look at how the infradian rhythm affects our sex life? Here’s a crash course in what’s happening during each of the four phases of your infradian rhythm, plus how to shift your approach so you’re able to have your needs and desires met.
Photo: Leighann Blackwood on Unsplash
The follicular phase: time for novelty
Duration: 7–10 days
Your hormone levels are low, including the estrogen that keeps the vagina lubricated. That’s why you may experience more dryness than at other times of the month. That’s okay—just keep some lubricant on hand. And give yourself more time than you think to build to orgasm plateau and reach climax.
Your hormones during this phase make you interested in new things – so go on dates and flirt. If you’re coupled up – do a new activity together and try new things in the bedroom.
The ovulatory phase: time to receive
Duration: 3–4 days
What’s happening in your body: Estrogen and testosterone levels are roaring back, which means your sex drive is going up, too. These hormonal changes make your body produce more cervical fluid in hopes of receiving attention (and sperm) from potential mates. You’re naturally more orgasmic during this phase and you’ll need less foreplay to feel how you want to feel.
Because you’ll feel more talkative and outgoing, go on a date and find opportunities to flirt. If you’re coupled, this phase is ideal to socialize with other couples on your date night.
The luteal phase: time for clarity
Duration: 10–14 days
What’s happening in your body: This phase comprises two parts. During the first half, your robust levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone mean that you’re primed to be wet and in the mood. So run with it! Go for the quickie or do whatever else brings you pleasure.
During the second half of the luteal phase, your hormone levels begin to decline. You may feel less interested in sex and experience dryness. If you do feel like having sex, you’re more likely to be satisfied if you go slow. Try lots of foreplay, be generous with lube, and don’t rush.
Sharing your truth is the fastest way to feel emotionally intimate with your partner this phase. Holding in your feelings will shut off your ability to relax into your body and experience pleasure.
Don’t write things off as you being hormonal; you’re always hormonal. Listen to the truth of your feelings and share those constructively with your partner to bring you closer. If you’re single, what can you give yourself to honor what you need and want, but maybe have been neglecting?
The menstrual phase: time to recharge
Duration: 3–7 days
What’s happening in your body: As hormone levels fall, your interest in sex may decline. But here’s something you might not expect: Right before your bleed, your uterus increases slightly in volume. That little swelling in size and weight is heavier on your pelvic floor, which creates pressure on your nerve endings that can feel pretty damn good!
If you want to have sex during your period, go for it. Again, lube will help reduce friction (menstrual blood doesn’t have much slip to it) and you may find that sexual stimulation can help with cramps and discomfort. And remember, if you’re not feeling period sex, that’s okay, too. Go with what your body and hormones are telling you to do.
Regardless of what you do from a sex point of view, what you need to nurture your libido this phase and into the next cycle is rest and some alone time to recharge physically and emotionally.
Biohacking your infradian rhythm brings more pleasure
With each phase, your biochemistry shifts. And when you recognize those changes, you can respond to them for fuller satisfaction. You won’t have to wonder why you wanted a quickie last week, and now all you want to do is cuddle—you’ll know. This knowledge is powerful because it allows you to shed the guilt, the anxiety, and the feeling like something is wrong with you.
Your partner should be aware of your infradian rhythm, too. This is why the My Flo tracker app has an optional partner sync feature. If you enter your partner’s email address, the app will send a weekly dossier that shares where you are in your cycle, activity suggestions, and more. It breaks down the details so you don’t have yet one more thing to add to your list—and can get on with the business of getting it on.
Women’s hormone expert Alisa Vitti is the creator of the MyFLO hormone-balancing period tracker app; the best-selling author of WomanCode, and the founder of FLOLiving.com, a virtual health center that supports women’s hormonal and reproductive health.
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