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Seed cycling 101: Hormone balance through...seeds?

Written by:, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.

Ah, hormones. Most of us remember from 7th grade biology that hormones have something to do with the reproductive system. And many of us have more in depth knowledge about how hormones impact monthly cycles and fertility. But did you know that hormones – especially progesterone – can impact skin, hair, mood, sleep quality, sex drive, weight and general wellness? 

If you have been using Proov tests to measure your PdG (progesterone marker) and don’t consistently get a positive test throughout the implantation window, this can be a sign of a problem with ovulation, or low PdG production after ovulation.

Other signs of low progesterone or PdG include brown spotting before your period, irregular cycles, headaches, mood changes, breast tenderness, and more. For many women with low progesterone, PMS, or PCOS, seed cycling can help balance hormone levels and can also potentially reduce symptoms.

Seed cycling is a natural and healthy way to help balance hormones, using...you guessed it: seeds! 

What is seed cycling?

Seed cycling involves eating certain types of seeds during different phases of your menstrual cycle, in order to promote a healthy hormone balance.

In a typical menstrual cycle, estrogen levels rise during the first half of the cycle before ovulation (the follicular phase) and progesterone levels rise during the second half of the cycle after ovulation (the luteal phase).

What does seed cycling do? So, during the follicular phase you eat seeds that promote estrogen production and during the luteal phase seed cycling for progesterone production can help. It’s pretty simple!

How does seed cycling work?

Seed cycling involves tracking your menstrual cycle and eating specific seeds during different days of the cycle, to help ensure optimal levels of estrogen and progesterone when these hormones should be present during the cycle.

Keep in mind that everyone’s cycle isn’t exactly 28 days in length, so your respective phases may be slightly shorter or longer than exactly 14 days – and that’s perfectly normal! If you’re looking to learn more about your cycle, we recommend looking into fertility hormone testing options

During the follicular phase, estrogen is the star. For roughly days 1-14 of your cycle (for those new to cycle days, day one is the first day you have your period), eat 1-2 tablespoons each of fresh ground flax and raw pumpkin seeds per day. These seeds naturally support estrogen production (by containing lignans and zinc), but can also help in clearing excess estrogen, also known as estrogen dominance.

In the luteal phase, after ovulation occurs, progesterone takes over at center stage. After ovulation or roughly on day 15 of the cycle, switch from flax seeds and pumpkin seeds to 1-2 tablespoons each of raw sunflower and sesame seeds per day. Sesame seeds (high in zinc) and sunflower seeds (high in vitamin E) help with progesterone production during the luteal phase.

Continue eating sunflower and sesame seeds daily through day 28 of your cycle or the day before your period should come. You then switch back to flax and pumpkin seeds once you start your period again.

Does Seed Cycling Require Specific Seeds?

Yes! Make sure you’re eating pumpkin and flax seeds during the first half of your cycle, then transition to sesame and sunflower seeds for the second half of your cycle. 

These seeds have specific chemical components that promote production of either estrogen or progesterone production, so it’s important to eat the right seed at the right time for proper hormone balance. 

Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance

If you experience any hormonal imbalance symptoms, seed cycling can be a natural option for promoting hormone balance. 

I have had low progesterone throughout adulthood, which caused my infertility challenges and continued to make for unpleasant periods, headaches, and low energy each cycle. I personally started seed cycling as a natural way to help my body naturally balance hormone levels.

I’m a huge fan of seed cycling. After starting it, I have noticed fewer headaches, shorter and lighter periods, longer luteal phases, and overall increased mood and energy levels. Plus, I have this great recipe that makes seed cycling easy!

The Four Phases of Your Cycle & How it Involves Cycle Syncing

Even though we’ve only mentioned 2 main phases of your cycle up to this point, there are actually 4 in total. Along with follicular and luteal, there are also the menstruation and ovulatory phases. 

Both are pretty self-explanatory. During the menstruation phase, you menstruate (or have your period) and during the ovulatory phase, you ovulate. 

While hormones control all 4 phases of your cycle and the transitions between them, hormone balance is most key during the follicular and luteal phases, as your hormones prepare the body for ovulation and pregnancy. Cycle syncing (not to be confused with seed cycling!) involves aligning your lifestyle to the different phases of your cycle to promote balance and performance. 

Seed cycling is a method of cycle syncing – in this case, you’re syncing your diet with your cycle to promote hormone balance. Along with seeds, there are other foods you can eat at different phases of your cycle to promote either estrogen or progesterone production. 

Exercise is another great tool in your cycle syncing toolkit. During the follicular phase, estrogen increases your energy leading up to ovulation, making it a great time for high intensity exercise like running, cycling, or weight lifting. 

Then, during the luteal phase after ovulation, an increase in progesterone calms you down and lowers your energy levels. This is a great time to focus on slower-paced exercises like yoga, pilates, or walking.

How to Start Seed Cycling

Seed cycling works best when the seeds are raw and freshly ground, as grinding the seeds increases the surface area for absorption. There are many options for ways to consume the seeds, including:

  • Making fresh seed butter (to enjoy with fruit or toast)
  • Making a raw seed-based granola
  • Sprinkling seeds on salad
  • Blending seeds into smoothies
  • Mixing seeds into salad dressing
  • Adding seeds to chia pudding, oatmeal, or yogurt parfaits

Our Best Cycle Syncing Tips

Looking to get more in tune with your cycle? Here are our best tips!

  • Track your hormones with Proov: If you haven’t done any kind of at-home hormone testing yet, this is a great way to understand what’s going on in your body. 
  • Try seed cycling: It’s a delicious way to promote hormone balance!
  • Exercise for your cycle: We have a great guide here

Please note that it can take about three months for you to see the benefits of seed cycling. We recommend keeping a journal to keep track of your symptoms through the cycle so you can look back to see impacts over time.

As always, if you have any concerns, it is best to consult your doctor. Happy cycling!

Have questions? Email us!