PMS, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and infertility… all of these conditions have their roots in unbalanced levels of sex hormones. Understanding what’s causing the imbalance and addressing this is often the first step towards reducing and managing these conditions. And seed cycling advocates suggest that this method offers women a really good way to achieve that balance.
Menstrual cycles vary between women and even across the reproductive life of a woman. There are two distinct phases to the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase runs from the first day of your period through to release or your egg or ovum (ovulation), using an average 28-day cycle.
During this phase oestrogen levels are low but gradually begin to rise as the egg matures ready for ovulation. Ovulation heralds the start of the luteal phase, this is the phase when the empty egg sac starts producing the hormone progesterone which causes the lining of the womb to build up in preparation for pregnancy. If the egg remains unfertilised the lining sheds, your period begins and the cycle continues. Oestrogen levels during this phase should drop after ovulation and increase slightly before falling again (see image).
Sometimes, however, oestrogen dominance can occur during the luteal phase. This happens when oestrogen levels raise too much resulting in PMS and painful periods. Optimal levels of progesterone can counter-balance oestrogen and prevent it from becoming too high. Seed cycling aims to prevent oestrogen dominance.
How do you do it and why does it work?
It’s proponents suggest that seed cycling works by regulating oestrogen levels during the follicular phase and progesterone during the luteal phase with positive outcomes after a few months.
It involves consuming one tablespoon each of freshly ground raw flax and pumpkin seeds every day during the follicular phase of your cycle. The weak phytoestrogens in flaxseed can help increase or decrease oestrogen levels by mimicking the action of oestrogen in the body. While the zinc in pumpkin seeds is important for the production and regulation of progesterone required in the second half of the cycle.
During the luteal phase, you’ll eat one tablespoon each of freshly ground raw sesame and sunflower seeds every day until the first day of your next cycle. The lignans in sesame seeds can prevent oestrogen levels climbing too high. Sesame seeds also contain zinc and selenium which can help increase levels of progesterone. In addition the vitamin E in sunflower seeds can help boost progesterone levels during this phase.
Seed cycling alone may not be able to completely balance your hormones but this method could be used as part of a comprehensive hormonal rebalance programme that addresses the root cause of your symptoms. If you’d like more help with your hormones book a call.