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, there might be more to the story. We tapped ob-gyn Amy Roskin and integrative nutritionist and hormone expert Alisa Vitti to find out the truth about how to handle your menstrual cycle on the big day.
Meet the Expert
- Amy Roskin, MD, is the chief medical officer of The Pill Club, a women’s telehealth and wellness platform. A board-certified ob-gyn, Roskin has been practicing for nearly two decades.
- Alisa Vitti is a functional nutritionist and women’s hormone expert. She is the founder of FLO Living, a virtual online health center to help women solve their hormonal symptoms, and the best-selling author of WomanCode.
How to Find the Perfect Point in Your Menstrual Cycle
It might seem obvious to avoid the week of your period when planning your wedding. But when is the perfect point in your menstrual cycle? (You might be surprised what the experts think.)
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.
How Much Focus Should You Place on Planning Around Your Menstrual Cycle?
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.
Roskin says you shouldn't place that much focus on planning your wedding around your menstrual cycle. "Sometimes your body changes, or your situation changes. It’s not always a reliable way to plan this important event! Outside factors such as stress, lack of sleep, or changes in diet can also impact the timing of your period."
Ways to Control the Heaviness of Your Period
If you are concerned about the possibility of your cycle landing around your wedding day, there are ways to control the heaviness of your period or skip it altogether! "Patients on hormonal birth control can choose to skip their placebo pills, which can decrease the chances of having a period at all, which is fine! This is a safe and effective way to try to ensure that you don’t have your period and don’t have to worry," says Roskin.
As for other safe ways to help your period, Roskin shares that "many people find that certain over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can help decrease the flow (as well as cramping). "
If you do decide to start skipping your placebo pills, do this months in advance of your wedding day because it could cause irregular spotting for the first few months.
How to Control the Symptoms of Your Period
Your actual period isn't the only concern when it comes to your menstrual cycle. You may also have to deal with breakouts, cramping, bloating, and more. Not to worry though! There are healthy, natural ways to curb these less-than-desirable symptoms.
Try Out a Supplement Regimen
Vitti recommends a course of action that 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.
Be Intentional About Your Food Intake
"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.”
Roskin explains how slightly tweaking your diet may help symptoms like bloating. "For brides on their period, some people have good results with supplements like magnesium and calcium, although your mileage may vary. I’ve also had patients respond positively to changes in their diet, such as reduced salt and increased fatty acids."
Plan Ahead in Case of Emergency
"Make a plan for your period, in case of emergencies! For example, I've had patients switch to menstrual cups ahead of their weddings (instead of tampons or pads) and find it to be a really effective and easy way to manage their period and decrease the worries of bleeding through their undergarments."