Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm ovulation at home.
Written on 5/6/22
It’s no secret that hormones play big roles in our day to day lives, and hormone health is so important. Often, they’re responsible for changes in mood, appetite, sleep patterns, and more.
But sometimes it can feel like our hormones are wreaking havoc on our body. Especially for those with severe PMS (premenstrual syndrome) or those in perimenopause, our hormones can be the root of unwanted symptoms and problems.
However, achieving hormone balance is not as difficult as it may seem! Often, natural methods — like seed cycling — prove to be simple, inexpensive methods to help promote a healthy hormone balance.
Keep reading to learn more about seed cycling and how it can help you!
Hormones play big roles in our day to day lives, and hormone health is so important.
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling involves eating certain seeds during certain phases of your cycle to promote healthy hormone production. Essentially, the micronutrients in the four main seeds — flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower — help your body make more of the key reproductive hormone during that phase.
During the first half of your cycle, you’ll want to eat flax and pumpkin seeds to promote estrogen production. Then, during the second half of your cycle, you’ll want to eat sesame and sunflower seeds to promote progesterone production.
By now you may be wondering, Wait, what are the phases of my cycle? We’re so glad you asked!
Getting to Know Your Cycle
Many of us may think of our “cycle” as just our period. But in between each period we experience many hormonal shifts that regulate the processes that ultimately help us get pregnant (if that’s your goal).
In fact, your period is just one small piece of your cycle — albeit an important one! Here’s a quick breakdown:
The Follicular Phase
Let’s start with what we know: your cycle begins with your period. Let’s call this cycle day 1. This is also a part of the first half of your cycle, the follicular phase.
During this phase, your body is gearing up for ovulation (the moment when you release an egg). The main hormone during this cycle is estrogen, which often makes you feel energized and peppy.
Having healthy estrogen levels is essential for having a healthy first half of your cycle, and ultimately triggering ovulation. Normal and regular ovulation is a sign of overall health, so helping out the hormones that regulate ovulation is essential!
The Luteal Phase
After ovulation occurs, we transition into the second half of our cycle — the luteal phase. As estrogen levels drop, progesterone dominates this phase.
Progesterone makes you feel calm and cool during the second half of your cycle. Healthy progesterone levels are responsible for ensuring a healthy luteal phase length.
If not enough progesterone is produced during the second half of your cycle, you may experience shorter cycles, PMS symptoms, or perimenopause symptoms.
How do I seed cycle?
Great question! First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure you have the necessary seeds: flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower.
Then, you’ll need to know when to eat them. Once you understand the 2 different phases of your cycle, seed cycling is simple.
On the day your period starts, you’ll eat 2 tablespoons of flax and pumpkin seeds daily, until you’ve reached ovulation. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact moment of ovulation from home, but it usually occurs about halfway through your cycle. An educated guess is fine for the purposes of seed cycling!
Remember that your entire cycle lasts from period to period. To find the halfway point (a.k.a. your estimated day of ovulation), simply divide your cycle length in half. Someone with a 28-day cycle, for example, would assume ovulation and switch seeds on cycle day 14.
One your estimated day of ovulation, you’ll switch from pumpkin and flax seeds to eating 2 tablespoons of sunflower and sesame seeds daily. You’ll continue eating these seeds until your period starts, and the whole cycle begins again!
During the second half of your cycle, you’ll eat sunflower and sesame seeds daily.
What if I don’t have a period?
Seed cycling can promote hormone balance in women of all life stages — from early reproductive years all the way to perimenopause. If you are not yet to an age of perimenopause (i.e. younger than about 35) but are not having a period, we recommend consulting your doctor as the absence of a period may be a sign of a greater health issue.
However, if you are perimenopausal or menopausal and no longer experience a regular period, seed cycling may be a natural way to balance your hormones and keep any pesky symptoms at bay.
Instead of switching seeds based on your cycle, you’ll instead switch them throughout the month. For the first half of the month (roughly 2 weeks), you’ll eat pumpkin and flax seeds. Then, for the second half of the month, you’ll eat sesame and sunflower seeds. It couldn’t be easier!
Any tips on ways to get my seeds in?
Absolutely! Several members of the Proov team practice seed cycling. Here are some of our favorite ways to get our seeds in:
- Blended in smoothies
- Mixed in oatmeal or yogurt
- Sprinkled on salad or grain bowls
- Making seed-based granola
- Making seed bites (these ones from Proov founder, Amy, are delish!)
Seed cycling is a great, natural (and yummy!) way to support your overall hormone health. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!