Natural Cycles: The Infradian Rhythm
The human body works in cycles much like the seasons, and lunar cycles. You’re well aware of some of these cycles like the menstrual cycle and the circadian rhythm, but there’s another kind of cycle that’s gone under the radar – until now.
Introducing the infradian rhythm. What is this cycle, and what does it have to do with your reproductive system and overall health?
What Are Infradian Rhythms?
You’ve probably developed a good understanding of infradian rhythms without even realizing it, as a result of living on as a human for some time, but there’s always more to learn and discover when it comes to our bodies!
While the circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle that helps regulate our sleep-wake patterns, energy levels, and hunger, infradian rhythms are a bit broader. This is a general term for any biological process that lasts longer than 24 hours and less than one year. They are the biological patterns that keep things moving and grooving in our bodies.
Types of Infradian Rhythms
The menstrual cycle, which lasts an average of 28 days is the most obvious example of an infradian rhythm. The hormones that cause ovulation, menstruation, and the other fun parts of a menstrual cycle or what create the pattern of this infradian rhythm. These main hormones are estrogen, progesterone, and luteinizing hormone.
This cycle is then broken up into four smaller cycles: menstruation, follicular phase, ovulatory phase, and luteal phase.
Of course menstruation doesn’t last forever. People who are menopausal or post menopausal still go through their own fluctations and changes, and even have their own cycles after menopause.
How we change with different seasons is another example of infradian rhythms. Seasonal depression, weight changes, and cravings change as we move from summer to winter and back again.
The Importance of Knowing Your Infradian Rhythms
When you tune into your body and its cycles, you can notice if things are off, or where you can make changes to feel better overall.
Understanding infradian rhythms can help you track your cycle and learn when you’re ovulating (if you do), when to expect your period, and when things might be out of balance.
Everyone can benefit from paying attention to their infradian rhythms, but especially if you experience symptoms like:
- Irregular periods
- Intense PMS or PMDD
- Irregular sleep pattern
- Fatigue or fluctuating energy levels
- Impaired immune system
- Difficulties with fertility
Your infradian rhythm impacts every area of your from family to work to generall being able to enjoy your life. Getting to know your cycles let’s you take the reigns when it comes to your health and wellbeing. It’s helps you be able to seek out support where needed, and even advocate for yourself when navigating healthcare.
Balancing Your Infradian Rhythms
Because we have different types of infradian rhythms, it’s hard to say how to balance all of them. That being said, everything in our bodies is connected, so if one thing is out of balance, it’s likely that will ripple out and affect other areas. That’s why it’s important to know your cycles and rhythms, and when they might be off.
The first step toward balancing your infradian rhythms is to get to know them in the first place. Part of that is learning to tune into your body, potential symptoms, and patterns, but there are also practical tools you can use to help you get a better understanding of them.
You can start tracking your menstrual cycle by cycle journaling or using a basal thermometer with an app. You can also try out other smart watches and gadgets that track sleep patterns, heart rate, and other physiological processes.
It can take a few months to get a good grasp on what’s going on with your infradian rhythms especially for longer cycles like the menstrual cycle. The longer you do it, the more natural it will feel, and the more in tune you’ll start to be with your body.
Balancing your infradian rhythms is about taking steps to find more balance in harmony in your health overall. Our top tips for this?
- Period tracking of course (if you get one)
- Addressing any sleep problems and getting regular sleep when you can
- Eating a balanced diet focused on whole foods
- Taking steps to balance your blood sugar
- Getting regular exercise or physical activity
- Getting your hormones tested
- Addressing underlying hormonal or reproductive health disorders like thyroid problems or PCOS
- Balance physical activity with rest
- Manage stress levels by doing things you love and getting support from loved ones
Your body is a complex network of systems and organs working hard to make you, you. The more you listen to their ebbs and flows, the better you’ll be able know if something is off and be proactive about your healthcare.
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.