What is Seed Cycling?
Did you recently stop taking birth control? Or maybe, you have always struggled with irregular cycle. Whether this is a new or long term issue, there is a natural and gentle way to help you get your cycle back on track. Today, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite ways to reduce PMS, regulate your cycle and promote your fertility naturally.
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is a gentle way to promote estrogen and progesterone during the two main phases of your menstrual cycle. During seed cycling, we use the powerful nutrients found in common seeds to mimic the natural production of estrogen and progesterone. We first boost estrogen production in the first half of your cycle and then progesterone in the last half of your cycle. This technique has been used successfully for women with irregular cycles, those getting off the pill as well as to promote your cycle post-partum.
What if my cycles aren’t regular? Can I still use this technique?
The short answer is yes. If you currently have cycles that are longer than 28 days or if you recently had a baby and still haven’t had the return of your cycle, seed cycle is just for you. You will need to introduce your new 28 day cycle, which will encourage your body to get back on track. If for example, your last period was 43 days ago, calculate the next 28 days and incorporate seed cycling to match a “normal” 28 day cycle. This will need to be done for 3 to 6 months, and can be a great way to get your cycle back on track.
How does Seed Cycling Work?
Seed cycling works by stimulating estrogen and progesterone in the appropriate phases of your menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is comprised of two main phases, the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
Follicular Phase (Day 1-14)
The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and will last ,on average, to the 14th day of your cycle. This is where tracking your cycle is going to play a big role. So if you don’t already track your cycle, it’s time you invest in a cute section of your planner or in a free period tracking app. (my favorite is Femometer). During the follicular phase of your cycle, estrogen levels should naturally begin to increase in preparation for ovulation. An average, women will then ovulate around Day 14 of their cycle. If you are trying to get pregnant, remember ovulation MUST occur in order to get pregnant. If you don’t ovulate that month, you will not get pregnant during that cycle. For those using seed cycling to boost fertility, I highly recommend investing in LH Surge Fertility Predictor kits. Fertility Predictor kits can easily determine exactly what day you ovulate to help narrow your fertile window. My favorite fertility predictor kits are Femometer Predictor Kits. These predictor kits can sync directly with the Femometer app making staying on track quickly and easy.
During the follicular phase of your cycle, we use flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds to naturally boost those raising estrogen levels. These particular seeds contain phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens, are plant- like compounds, that can mimic the effects of estrogen in our body. The lignans in flaxseeds can also bind excess estrogen, if you are struggling with too much estrogen, also known as estrogen dominance.
Luteal Phase (Day 15-28)
The Luteal phase, on the other hand, begins shortly after ovulation. As we mentioned earlier, ovulation typically occurs around Day 14 of your cycle. The luteal phase is brought on by a natural drop in estrogen. At this point, progesterone levels begin to steadily rise. Progesterone levels rise to help build up the uterine lining. This is done each month in preparation for a pregnancy. If there is no fertilized egg, the lining will begin to shed and you will get your period. If there is a fertilized egg, the lining will continue to grow in preparation for that said pregnancy.
During the luteal phase, boosting progesterone is our top priority. Typically, when you experience severe PMS or severe menstrual cramping, this is likely due to high estrogen levels during the second half of your cycle. Naturally boosting your progesterone levels, can help keep your estrogen levels in check and naturally reduce your severe PMS.
During this phase, we exchange flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds for sesame and sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds are particular rich in zinc and selenium and can help block excess estrogen. Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, a key vitamin in boosting progesterone.
What type of seeds should I use?
Using the right seeds during the right part of your cycle is the only way this technique will work. It is also important to note that your seeds should be raw, not roasted or seasoned. Personally, I recommended USDA organic seeds as this will limit your exposure to unnecessary chemicals often sprayed on commercially grown seeds. Many of the chemicals sprayed on traditional seeds can alter our body’s naturally hormone production. Always look for the USDA organic label, when shopping in the organic section of your local grocery store.
Make sure to keep your seeds in a cool, dark place as the fatty acids found in these seeds are fragile and can easily oxidize when exposed to heat and light.
You can consume your seeds daily as a midday snack or you can quickly grind them before adding them to your smoothie. If you plan on grinding your seeds, you will need to make sure to consume them within 24 hours of grinding them as they can quickly oxidize.
You can also add your seeds to a healthy meal, like a salad. Try not to cook these seeds, as high heat, will reduce the healthy fats and nutrients naturally available in the seed’s raw form.
How long will it take to see results?
It can take several cycles to notice a change. On average, it will take 3-6 cycles (3-6 months) to notice a change. If you are looking for a quick fix, seed cycle is not the best option for you. However, if you are looking for a long- term naturally solution for hormonal imbalances, seed cycling is just what the doctor ordered.
Having trouble with your health? At NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, we offer personalized integrative solutions for all your hormone and fertility needs.
Dr. Zen is a licensed naturopathic physician specializing in Women's Hormones and Fertility. Her local private practice is located in Scottsdale, Arizona, however, she works with patients around the world. Her goal is to educate, inspire and empower women to take control of their health naturally. She believes in providing integrative healthcare options that get to the root cause of your unique symptoms. She has been featured as an expert in a variety of publications including Shape, Elite Daily and Forbes.