The perfect time to quit smoking?

Apparently, you can do a lot by tracking your menstrual cycles, if you're into that kind of thing.

Published June 2, 2008 4:50PM (EDT)

We've all heard about the studies showing that women are most attractive when they're ovulating, for obvious reasons, but according to the Times Online (U.K.), the hormonal fluctuations in a woman's menstrual cycle have loads of other overlooked magical powers.

Want to quit smoking? Wait for the luteal phase (after ovulation, before your period), when progesterone is highest -- it helps with nicotine withdrawal. Want to deepen your yoga practice? Just before your period, you get hit with the aptly named hormone relaxin, which increases flexibility. Want to have an easier cardio workout and burn more fat? The luteal phase and its attendant progesterone spike are your friends once again. (If you're into lifting weights, on the other hand, the increased estrogen during the follicular phase -- days one to 14 -- will make you stronger.) Want to get a tattoo? Your pain threshold is highest during ovulation.

What if I want to live my life without paying much attention to my cycle, beyond knowing when to throw a tampon in my purse? The Times doesn't answer that question. I know women who geek out over online cycle-tracking tools (up to and including "detailed history reports"), but unless I end up desperately trying to get pregnant someday, I just can't see myself spending any time plugging "cycle events" into an online calendar when I could be compulsively refreshing Cute Overload. I'm pretty sure if you practice yoga or lift weights or run on a regular basis, you'll have better overall results than waiting for the hormonal superpowers to kick in, and I'm more than a little suspicious of the idea that skipping deodorant can make one more attractive. But hey, maybe someday I'll change my tune after I schedule a root canal during the luteal phase.

By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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