Running a business while menstruating
Listen to what your body is telling you
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I’m in incredibly high spirits as I write this, loving my work and the people around me and excited for what I get to do tomorrow. That’s in stark contrast to the depths I was buried in a few days ago, consumed by self-loathing, assured of my looming failure and my stomach turning at the sight of another human.
What changed in the meantime? I got my period.
The cycle has become familiar throughout my adult life, especially in the past few years as I’ve tuned into my body and learned to recognize its patterns and needs.
Now I can feel that wave of depression swelling and check my Cycle Tracking app (thanks, Apple Watch!) to confirm my period is about to start. Instead of looking outward and attributing my gloominess to bad things happening in my life, I just think, yep, right on time.
And then I get excited. I know that spark of energy and optimism is just around the corner, so I shift the creative work on my to-do list back about a week and hibernate in preparation.
Harnessing the power of the cycle
“The menstrual cycle is often not understood and it can make people feel uncomfortable to talk about it,” says Caitlin Molony, the menstrual cycle educator behind Consciously Cait. “The patriarchal and capitalist systems we live in seep into even places where you’d think the menstrual cycle would be honored and respected.”
For years, I fought the natural ebbs and flows of energy that came with my menstrual cycle. I got mad at myself for my lack of motivation and willpower. I thought I was weak or lazy.
In fact, I was just recharging.
“For most of our lives, we’ve been taught that we must feel the same, work the same, be the same person 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Molony says. “We are shoved into the same box of cis men who operate on a 24-hour clock.”
She explains four phases of the menstrual cycle:
Follicular phase: The first day of your period until you ovulate.
Ovulation phase: When your ovaries release an egg, right in the middle of the cycle.
Luteal phase: The rise of hormones that makes your uterus lining thicken.
Menstrual phase: When you get your period.
Molony says you might feel more productive during the follicular and ovulatory phases and less motivated and more introverted during the luteal and menstrual phases.
That sounds about right to me. As my body escapes pregnancy another month and all those hormones release with my period, my energy and happiness levels go up immediately. As the hormones creep back up throughout the next two cycles, my energy wanes, and I’m usually this close to shutting down my business and walking away.
When I first noticed this pattern, I was annoyed. Like, seriously, I’m going to lose half of my productivity to my biology?
But now I’m learning to appreciate and embrace it.
When you’re building a business, rest is easy to forget, but that doesn’t make it unnecessary. My body gives me this reminder to rest every few weeks, followed by the reward of this wonderful burst of creative energy. By listening to it, I can get the most out of each of those phases, instead of pushing through when my body wants to rest and spending my energetic days recovering from burnout.
Pay attention to your cycle
Women and gender-expansive folks bring so many unique strengths and perspectives to business and creativity. Embracing the benefits, rather than lamenting the drawbacks, of experiences like periods is one way to celebrate those strengths and remake work and entrepreneurship into a world that welcomes and benefits from our presence.
If you want to get in tune with the energetic shifts in your menstrual cycle, Molony recommends a simple first step: Track your cycle — every day, not just when you get your period. Do it for at least three months so you can identify the patterns.
Once you see those patterns, you can plan around them. Schedule social and creative activities when those skills are activated, and schedule rest and low-energy work when your body slows down.
“This work is about coming home to yourself,” Molony says. “To cut the outside noise and to truly start listening to your body.”
Thanks to Caitlin Molony for sharing her insight! Cait (she/her) is based in Toronto, Ontario. She is a menstrual cycle educator and cycle syncing coach. She aims to inspire menstruators to feel empowered, understood and at peace in their bodies. She dreams of a world where each and every menstruator understands the power of their cycle and uses it to liberate themselves from the linear way of life. Follow Cait on Instagram and TikTok.
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