I don’t know about you, but I’m super sensitive to the various phases of my cycle. When I’m ovulating, I feel like Beyoncé. In the week that follows—known as the luteal phase or, more commonly, PMS hell week—I seem to suddenly transform into a combination of Mommie Dearest’s Joan Crawford and Sadness from Inside Out. Then, the whole thing climaxes in a day of excruciating pain, after which my period comes and my head stops spinning like the little girl’s in The Exorcist. Finally, I endure a few days of just general yuck before I’m able to feel “normal” again. Until the whole process cycles back, of course.
Same? You might, then, want to consider planning your wedding around your period. A quick forum search tells me that many a bride-to-be is already on top of this idea, with the majority sharing tips for skipping your period so you don’t have to deal with it on your wedding day; however, according to Alisa Vitti, an integrative nutritionist, hormone expert, and the best-selling author of WomanCode, you may actually want to do the opposite.
Vitti, who is known as “the hormone whisperer,” tells me she intentionally scheduled her wedding to take place while she was on her period. But, why? “During menstruation, the left and right hemispheres of your brain communicate maximally across the corpus callosum, which is this bundle of nerves that goes between the two hemispheres,” she explains. “I love doing important things—like when I gave a TED talk—during this time because I’m able to be the most present.” Timing her wedding in this way, she says, helped her to avoid a phenomenon commonly reported among brides: feeling as though the events were a blur. “I remember every moment from my wedding day,” she says by way of contrast.
After sharing a restroom anecdote torn straight from an Amy Schumer script, however, Vitti does admit that this strategy can be logistically difficult (think: big dress, hard-to-reach tampon). Luckily, it’s not the only one she recommends. “I would probably say there are three phases out of the four [in the menstrual cycle] during which you could easily enjoy your wedding,” she says.
One, she explains, is the follicular phase, or that first week after your period which, she says, is a great time for embarking on new adventures. “You’re going to be in an open space emotionally,” Vitti claims. (Perhaps this is a good strategy if you’re prone to anxiety or fear you may experience cold feet?)
Meanwhile, the week that follows may be a wedding-day jackpot, for a few reasons. “In the ovulatory phase, you’re going to physically feel your best, you’re going to have the most symmetrical face for photographs, and you’re just the most glowing, magnetic version of yourself,” she explains. (Cue your inner Beyoncé.) “And, of course, it will make the honeymoon entertainment (ahem) very fun.”
The one phase she recommends avoiding is probably pretty obvious to most: that aforementioned luteal, or PMS phase. “This is going to be a time where your blood sugar is lower, your tendency for anxiety and depression is heightened, and you’re going to feel a little off and moody,” she says. “Not to mention the fact that if you haven’t addressed your period issues, you’re going to be dealing with PMS and bloating and breakouts, and that’s no good when you’re getting married.” The luteal phase, she explains, tends to be the time in their cycle when women feel the least confident. Yikes.
Not every woman has control over her wedding date, however; some are beholden to venue availability and other such external factors. Likewise, not all women have predictable cycles. So, what to do if your wedding date happens to fall in that dreaded luteal phase?
This, says Vitti, is where that whole "addressing your period issues" thing comes into play. See, she doesn’t believe that PMS is normal, or that it’s something women must endure. Instead, she believes it’s due to hormonal imbalances that can be corrected with care. “While you’re doing your year’s worth of wedding planning, spend that time fixing your hormones,” she suggests. “Within three cycles, you can have a totally different period.”
Her recommended course of action revolves around the supplement regimen she’s created specifically for this purpose, including B vitamins, omega-3s, and probiotics to control breakouts and other signs of PMS.
If you miss out on this massive overhaul, however, there is still hope; Vitti offers a few suggestions for minimizing PMS symptoms the week of your wedding. “You’ve got to performance eat for a couple of days leading up to the event,” she says. “Starving yourself is not the thing to do because again, you have more blood sugar needs during the luteal phase and not eating is going to put you in a bad mood.” When I jokingly ask if the cheeseburger and fries I without fail crave while PMSing count as “performance eating,” she says no. “If you’re feeling carb crazy, have a big sweet potato,” she suggests.
Vitti also recommends limiting sodium consumption to reduce bloating, upping your intake of electrolytes, and getting all your micronutrients to help keep the body balanced. “Supercharge on magnesium and B vitamins,” she suggests specifically; however, once again she reiterates that you shouldn’t actually be experiencing PMS symptoms so debilitating that an exorcism is in order (oops!). “You shouldn’t feel like, ‘oh God, I’m going to need to take a horse tranquilizer’ or whatever,” she insists. If your body is optimally tuned, in other words, you should be able to get married on your dream date, no matter where it falls within your cycle. (So much for blaming your bridal antics on that time of the month!)