How the Internal Framework Affects our Sexual Satisfaction
You may have heard of this one before, but put simply, the circadian rhythm is the 24-hour internal clock. Our physiology and behaviour are shaped by the Earth’s rotation around its axis. This clock within our brain regulates cycles of alertness and sleepiness, appetite and body temperature by responding to light changes in our environment.
A recent study found that female and males physiology have different circadian rhythms.
Published in the journal Science, on September 4, researchers found that females tend to be morning people, and are more active during the day, while males are more likely to be active at night. Females were also better at coping with disruptions in their normal circadian rhythm than males, making them more resilient when disturbed during sleep. Males, on the other hand, are more likely to nap in the afternoon.
Lead research author Seán T. Anderson, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania said that, “one possible reason is that, historically, women have had a greater role in nurturing offspring. These earlier rhythms may have helped them to be more in sync with young children who are also more morning-oriented. Women also tend to sleep more deeply and are more resilient to nocturnal disturbances, which aligns with this idea.”
Researchers also found that this phenomenon isn't unique to humans. “We see a similar pattern across other species, which indicates that this is not simply due to recent societal pressures but may have had an evolutionary cause."
The infradian rhythm is found only in female physiology. It is often referred to as the body's 'second clock.'
The infradian rhythm is a 28-day clock that starts with the first menstruation at puberty and ends with the last menstruation before menopause, thus impacting women for almost half of their lives. The infradian rhythm has 4 different phases, each bringing important fluctuations in women's bodies and brains.
During each of these four phases, you experience normal hormonal fluctuations that influence your body temperature, skin elasticity, sleep cycle, energy, emotions, and cognitive function.
Why is it important?
1. The infradian rhythm affects six different systems of the body:
+ Immune System
+ Stress Response System (this is directly linked to your libido. High stress = no sex)
2. The infradian rhythm creates a 25% change in your brain chemistry over the course of the month
3. Your metabolism speeds up and slows down
Over the course of your infradian month rhythm, your metabolism predictably changes (like clock-work) across the month. Changing what you eat and the intensity of your workouts each week will optimise your metabolism and is easy to do by following the distinct phases of your infradian cycle.
4. Your cortisol levels are higher
In one part of your infradian cycle your cortisol is higher.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by your 2 adrenal glands - triangle shaped organs at the top of your kidneys.
Think of cortisol as nature's built-in alarm system. It's your body's main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.
During this time, intense workouts will bump up your cortisol levels even further, adding to your stress and inflammation, disrupting your hormones, and making you feel anxious and unfocused.
5. People with the female biochemistry need more sleep than men
This is because we have a more complex brain and it needs 20 minutes longer to clean itself and reset for the cognitive day.
What are the four distinct phrases of the 28-day infradian rhythm?
Phase 1 | Follicular
The 7 to 10 days after your period.
Phase 2 | Ovulatory
The 4 days in the middle of your cycle.
Follicular & Ovulatory phase: Your metabolism is slower and resting cortisol levels are lower. As such, you need fewer calories during these two phases.
This is the phase where you can go for gold with your exercise ambitions and where you will see the most results without disrupting blood sugar or increasing cortisol.
Phase 3 | Luteal
The 10 to 14 days between ovulation and your period.
Phase 4 | Menstrual
The 3 to 7 days of your period.
Luteal and Menstrual phase: Your metabolism is faster and resting cortisol levels are higher. So you’ll need more overall calories each day (around 250 extra calories).
When you eat carbs they must be complex carbs to keep blood sugar levels stable. If you don’t increase your calories during this time, it will interfere with hormone balance and trigger fat storage. With higher cortisol levels, limit your workouts to 30 minutes to avoid feeling washed out and stick to simple strength training, pilates, or yoga without a high intensity cardio component.
Understanding how our infradian rhythm affects our sexual desire and changes our requirements for physical stimulation in each phase is key to unlocking your sexual satisfaction.
A lot of women believe that something is wrong with them when their libido doesn't match that of a male counterpart.
In using your biological rhythm to understand why your body wants what it wants, will help you in unlocking a variety of experiences, increasing pleasure, positive connection and decreasing stress.