More than 90% of women say they experience premenstrual symptoms of some kind, according to the Office on Women’s Health, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Symptoms may include stomach cramping, back pain, insomnia, intense food cravings, acne flare-ups and other unpleasant effects.
Yet women don’t have to resign themselves to living with these uncomfortable symptoms, according to female hormone expert Alisa Vitti.
Vitti is also a functional nutrition health coach and founder of Flo Living, a digital hormonal health platform that aims to end menstrual-related suffering.
Women are “so desperate to feel better,” she said. Fox News Digital spoke with the Massachusetts-based expert about the cycle syncing method, something she came up with.
With the method, women sync their nutrition and fitness habits with their menstrual cycles to optimize weight, energy levels, mood and productivity, according to the company’s website.
The method is based on the four phases of the menstrual cycle: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase and the luteal phase.
During the menstrual phase, women are encouraged to eat high-protein foods while doing light exercises, such as yoga and Pilates.
After the menstrual phase is the follicular phase, when women tend to have more energy.
During this time, Vitti encourages women to eat fermented foods and do cardio workouts based on their hormone levels.
During the ovulatory phase, when women have the highest estrogen levels of the month, they should eat more raw foods and complete HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts, according to Vitti’s method.
Last and longest, the luteal phase brings high progesterone, when the focus should be on eating root vegetables and strength training, she said.
“Women in their reproductive years are being told, ‘Oh, intermittent fasting is the best thing now, and HIIT workouts are the gold standard,’” Vitti said.
“They’re so desperate to feel better, so they try these things, and their symptoms get worse,” she said. “It’s not their fault.”
Vitti, the author of two books, said she suffered from issues connected to her period for 10 years. Ultimately, she decided to figure out how to help herself feel better.
“I started off having PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), which no one knew about, and went undiagnosed for seven years,” she said.
Vitti did not have menstrual periods for 10 years, from the age of 12 through age 22, she said. Gynecologists told her to start taking birth control pills to address the issue.
By the time Vitti got to college at Johns Hopkins University, her symptoms worsened, she said.
“My weight ballooned, I was covered in face, chest and back acne … [I had] lots of anxiety, depression and insomnia,” she recalled.
Vitti spent evenings in the medical library researching what might be wrong and brought an obstetrics journal to her gynecologist’s office, convinced that she had PCOS, she said.
PCOS is a hormonal condition in which women do not ovulate. Sufferers have high levels of androgens and small cysts on their ovaries, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
After several tests, Vitti was indeed diagnosed with PCOS — and was told there was no cure.
Doctors told her things would get worse over time and that she had a higher chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, infertility and other conditions, she said.
The first remedy doctors suggested was birth control, to which Vitti responded, “That’s not my future.”
She decided to figure out a way to get her menstrual cycle back and to heal her hormonal health, which sparked the cycle-syncing method.
Cycle syncing focuses on resolving hormone issues, eliminating symptoms and caring for one’s hormones on a daily basis, according to Vitti.
The method transformed her life, she said, enabling her to get pregnant with her now-8-year-old daughter.
Thousands of women have used the process, said Vitti — and many have been open about the benefits they’ve experienced.
Seventy percent of women have reported weight loss while cycle syncing and 85% have noticed mood improvements, according to Flo Living.
Callie Jardine, 23, a holistic health coach in South Florida, decided to stop taking hormonal birth control in 2020 because she wanted more control over her body.
That decision led to acne, irregular periods and mood swings, she told Fox News Digital, prompting her to try cycle syncing.
“Before I started [it], I felt disconnected from my body,” she said.
Now, Jardine said she recommends the practice to others.
“[It] not only can help reduce painful period symptoms, but it also gives us a deeper love and understanding of our bodies during the weeks when we may feel tired and bloated,” she said.
Pennsylvania-based OB/GYN Dr. Kristin Friel told Fox News Digital that she doesn’t see any risks with timing healthy lifestyle habits to the phases of one’s menstrual cycle.
“I would say to try it,” she said. “If the tips are motivating and help you to stay on track with healthy eating and movement routines, then that’s already a great benefit.”
The recommendations associated with the cycle syncing method — eating less sugar, drinking less alcohol and exercising more — are all positive, said Friel.
Not every woman will experience hormone shifts in the same way, however, and the method will only work in those who regularly ovulate during the ovulatory phase, Friel noted.
“For instance, this would not work with anyone using contraception, which is many women,” she said.
Flo Living also offers nutrient-infused supplements that women can order after taking an online assessment. They can also use the app to track their cycles and get more tips.
“I’m proud to have done something to really help women, to put their biology at the center, to teach them how to care for their cycle phases properly, but also to have shifted our narrative a bit, so that we feel more positive about our bodies,” Vitti said.
She recommends speaking with a doctor before deciding to stop taking birth control and before starting any new supplements.
Hormonal birth control uses synthetic hormones to stop ovulation, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Because these hormones override natural hormones, cycle syncing “doesn’t really apply” for those who are taking birth control.
Photos of Vitti were contributed by Max McQueen.