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Seed Cycling: Should You Try It for Your Menstrual Cycle?

Seed Cycling: Should You Try It for Your Menstrual Cycle?

 Seed Cycling: Should You Try It for Your Fertility?Seed cycling is gaining momentum in the natural health world to help balance hormones and improve the menstrual cycle. You may be thinking seed what? Cycling, oh I don’t do that at the gym! Know that seed cycling is all about eating certain seeds (yes, the foods) in your daily diet at specific times throughout the menstrual cycle. It’s being recommended for everything from hormone related acne, to PMS, menstrual cramps, irregular cycles and infertility, but how does it work? Can seed cycling really benefit fertility?

It’s important to keep in mind that natural therapies like seed cycling are nutritionally supportive choices and that it may take time to reap the rewards. In addition, for complex fertility issues, seed cycling may be only one of the avenues you need to pursue for renewed health and fertility. Still, seed cycling is very easy to do, and enhances your Fertility Diet with essential fats!

Seed Cycling Basics

The basic concept of seed cycling is simply to consume flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds at specific times during the menstrual cycle to promote hormone balance and support the phases of the menstrual cycle according the Annie Hall, Herbal Academy General Manager.

Here’s why it works:

“The concept is fairly simple: The seed hulls contain lignans, which are chemicals that help bind up excess hormones, while the seed oils contain essential fatty acids that provide the building blocks for making hormones,” states Nicole Jardim, renowned Women’s Health & Functional Nutrition Coach.

1) Lignans in seeds have gentle phytohormone activity, which help to eliminate excess estrogen, a common concern linked to genetics, excess body fat and chemicals in the environment.

2) By balancing estrogen levels, seed lignans help to encourage healthy hormone balance.

3) Seeds are an excellent source of essential fats, which your body utilizes in its own natural hormone production.

  • During the follicular phase (the first half of the menstrual cycle), flax and pumpkin seeds are used to balance excess estrogen and encourage progesterone production for normal ovulation. Flax seeds are an especially rich source of lignans that bind to excess estrogen to help the body eliminate it. Pumpkin seeds are used for their essential fats and zinc content, important for progesterone production.

    Hall shares, “…a study in 1993 found that women taking one tablespoon of flax powder daily lengthened the luteal phase (latter half of the cycle) and resulted in fewer anovulatory cycles (months with no ovulation). The researchers determined that while flax had no significant effect on luteal phase progesterone concentrations, “the luteal phase progesterone/estradiol ratios were significantly higher during the flax cycles” (Phipps et al., 1993).”

  • During the luteal phase (the second half of the menstrual cycle), switch to sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Sesame seed lignans help balance excess estrogen but are not as potent as the flax seeds used in the first phase. Sunflower seeds offer natural selenium content for liver support and hormone regulation as the menstrual cycle comes to an end.

How To Use Seed Cycling To Fit Your Cycle

We know there are many varying cycle lengths and each woman may ovulate on a different cycle day.

  • For women with 28-30 day cycles, start your follicular seeds from cycle day 1 (the first day of your period) to around day 14 (or whenever you know you ovulate). Switch to luteal phase seeds after ovulation (around day 15 to day 28 or 30).
  • If a 20-24 day cycle is normal for you, chart your cycle and follow the seed cycle recommendations for your specific follicular and luteal phase patterns.
  • For women with irregular cycles, experts from Laura’s Natural Life suggest beginning your follicular seeds at the next full moon and switching to the luteal seeds 14 days later. Click the following link for our guide to BioRhythmic Lunar Fertility Charting if interested.

Tips for Seed Cycling

1. Invest in a good grinder (a coffee grinder used only for seeds/nuts works great).

2. In order to benefit from the oils and lignans, buy organic, raw, whole seeds and grind them immediately before adding them to your favorite foods choices. Otherwise, your seeds may pass through your digestive system completely undigested.

3. Aim to consume 2 tbsp of ground seeds daily, using equal amounts of the suggested seeds for each phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in.

4. Fresh ground seeds can be added to many delicious foods! A few of our favorites: Fertility Smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or homemade granola bars, homemade salad dressings too.

5. If you’re using raw seeds, you can soak them overnight for easier digestion. After soaking, rinse them and drain well, then dry roast them in the oven for 10 minutes at a heat no higher than 300o fahrenheit.

6. Seed oils become rancid over time. To preserve the freshness of your seeds, store them in the refrigerator or freezer, especially if you’re grinding more than one serving of each seed at a time, and use them as needed.

Seed cycling round-up

Be consistent and give it time. Experts suggest it takes at least three complete menstrual cycles to experience changes and benefits from seed cycling. It’s a good idea to note your symptoms in a journal. I also recommend Charting your Cycle to see if you experience changes in your follicular and luteal phases.

Seed cycling is a convenient, affordable and nutritious choice to encourage healthy hormonal balance. Additionally, while we are still only learning about seed cycling, it may offer benefits with few (if any) drawbacks for fertility. Try it for yourself and share your story with us. We’d love to hear your feedback and experiences!


Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull is a University-trained Obstetrician/Gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She delivered over 2000 babies and specializes in gynecologic diseases such as menstrual disorders, infertility diagnosis and treatment especially pertaining to tubal blockage and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Dr. Langdon is the inventor of 6 patent pending medical devices, and attended Ohio State University from 1987-1995 receiving her Medical Doctorate Degree (M.D.) with Honors in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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  1. Avatar

    I have hypothyroidism. Can I still intake flax seeds or should I substitute it with another tablespoon of pumpkin seeds instead?

  2. Avatar

    I started seed cycling last month. My cycles ranged from 28,29, 30 day, this months has only been 23 day long, ahh. Is this normal until my body finds balance?

    • Dear Faye,

      Any time the horomones shift the cycle can shift. While I completely understand the alarm this can cause, the point of seed cycling and other natural therapies is to support hormonal balance. Shifts are seen as a good sign the body is responding and should work themselves out within 1-3 cycles of use.

  3. Avatar

    I have been seed cycling for two cycles now and so far have already noticed some great benefits. My periods are not as long or painful, my flow is much more bright red and less dark and clumpy.
    I am wondering how long I should continue to seed cycle? 6 months, a year, forever? What is usually recommended?

    • Dear Anna,

      This is great to hear! In general, it is best use natural therapies consistently for at minimum three month time, often longer. They can be used for 6 months to a year. So, pay attention to the changes you see and if they stay consistent then perhaps you can try to cut back. That said, these seeds are fine to consume long term. They provide many healthy nutrients.

  4. Avatar

    Hi Elizabeth ,I´ve heard about this nutritional support method and I´ve done some scholar research myself. I have a question for you. Is it ok to use chia seeds instead of flaxseeds. I think their composition is very similar.
    As I´ve had a uterin fybroid (external one) removed I am a bit worried about adding estrogens to my diet. I have had very heavy periods for some years now, I guess that due to hormonal changes-, as the doctors don´t seem to find a reason for that (cause the myoma was external).
    Do you think seed cycling is a good idea for heavy periods? Mine is quite regular now.

    • Hello Maria!

      So Chia and Flax seeds are not exactly the same. They do differ some in terms of what nutrients that offer, although both very nutrient rich. Flax has a slight upper hand though for supporting hormonal balance because of the lignan content. I hope to help explain why they are beneficial to fertility and hormonal balance in an easy way…

      Lignans have been found to be anti-estrogenic. The high fiber and lignan content of Flax seeds helps to remove excess bad estrogens from the body and help prevent healthy cells from free radical damage.

      My colleague Dalene Barton shared, “Studies have shown high levels of estrogen in the urine of people that consume flax daily. This shows the ability of flax to remove excess estrogen from the body, while promoting healthy digestion and balanced estrogen levels. Flax oil [and seeds] is also an extremely healthy source of omega 3 fatty acid. Omega 3’s have been shown to aid the body in hormonal balance, production of healthy cervical mucous, and healthy blood flow.”

      The use of Flax seeds in the follicular phase is for their ability to support healthy estrogen levels and the idea that they are going to make your body estrogen dominant (or feed an estrogen dominant fertility condition) is actually misleading. Note: In order for flax seeds to be beneficial they must be ground fresh, or an oil that contains the lignans.

      Given what I know about seed cycling, I wouldn’t swap Flax seeds for Chia seeds. But I would also eat chia seeds in my diet!

  5. Avatar

    Hi, I started seed cycling because I want to balance my hormones (I tend to be estrogen dominant and have fibrocystic breasts). I’m now day 8 of my cycle and my breasts are already sore, which never happened. I read that phytoestrogens are safe and help balancing excess estrogen, but I wonder if this is really the case or I’m making things worse… can I use seeds only during luteal phase ?

    • Dear M,

      To me it sounds a bit like this is a sign the body is showing you it’s using the seed’s benefits and starting to shift. Where are you at in your menstrual cycle?

      Seed Cycling can be used for only one phase the cycle, yet it may be most beneficial to use them both phases. One would still benefit from all the healthy, anti-inflammatory fats.

  6. Avatar


    I would like to try this for excessive bleeding (too many days). I was wondering if you measure the seeds (2tbsp) before grinding or after grinding? Also you mention roasting seed, should we grind seeds after roasting or just eat 2 tbsp roasted seeds?
    Thank you for such a great article!

    • Hello!

      Raw seeds are soaked, then roasted before grinding, and the aim is to consume 2 Tbsp of ground seeds each day.

    • Avatar

      Thank you! One more question, is it ok to do other things for hormone balancing like use essential oils topically at the same time, or will it interfere (thyme oil, clary sage) Can we take a fish oil supplement every day also (for other reasons)

      Thanks for such an informative article!

    • Hello again!

      Essential oils can be combined and should interfere with the actions/benefits of seed cycling. And yes, a fish oil supplement is fine to take while seed cycling and using essential oils.

  7. Avatar

    Thanks for the helpful article, I have been seen cycling for six months and it has helped. I have a regular 28 day cycle. I ovulate earlier than mid cycle. Should I switch the seeds when I ovulate or stick to 14+14? Happy hormoning 🙂

    • Dear Kat,

      We are glad this article is helpful. The article’s author Sarah shares that it is known to be best to follow the cycle “stick to 14+14”.

  8. Avatar

    Hi – me again. I haven’t really be able to locate any encapsulated whole pumpkin and flax seeds. But what if i made my own? Ground up the seed and placed the recommended dosage in a capsule. That should work as well?

    Your help is much appreciated!

    • Hi Lesa!

      It most certainly would I think. Do try to encapsulate them quickly after grinding, while keeping the ground flax in particular cool. It is said that the benefits of flax can decrease quickly after grinding. I grind a large batch and keep it in the freezer to prevent this.

  9. Avatar

    I have PMDD and i’m about 2 1/2 months into seed cycling. So far the results have been great! I have a dilema. I’m traveling out of the states in a few weeks and i’m wondering if a pill replacement for the flax seed and pumpkin seed would work ok? Any help advice would be much appreciated!

    • Dear Lesa,

      This is so great to hear!

      If you can find encapsulated whole pumpkin and flax seeds, then this should work. The author and I think it’s best to avoid products that are the oil or an extract of the seed… using the whole seed is best.

      Safe, happy travels!

  10. Avatar

    Hi, I just went off the pill after ten years and have been doing 2 tbsp of flaxseeds, 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds and 1 tbsp of chia seeds every day. I just learned about seed cycling, what is the difference between just doing flax and pumpkin every day and switching to sunflower/sesame seeds? My main concern being off the pill is acne. Thank you!

    • Hi Leslie!

      Scroll back up to Seed Cycling Basics: Here’s why it works: #3. Sesame and sunflower seeds aren’t as potent as flax seed and sunflower seeds offers a bit of differing support and the cycle ends and another is about to begin.

  11. Avatar

    Does heating the seeds after soaking them destroy any benefits use for seed cycling?

    • Dear Emily,

      Dry roast raw seed in the oven for no more than 10 minutes at a heat no higher than 300o fahrenheit is fine and will not damage any beneficial nutrients.

  12. Avatar

    I have irregular periods and am trying to conceive. I started seed cycling this cycle and my follicular phase was the longest ever. I’m thinking about switching over to the lunar cycle as recommended, but I don’t want to mess with my luteal phase just in case I’m ever pregnant. Should I start pumpkin & flax on the first day of my menstrual phase then switch to sesame & sunflower on day 14 no matter when I ovulate (I’m tracking via temping, cervical mucus, OPK)? Or should I start pumpkin & flax today with the new moon (I am ~7 days to my menstrual phase)?

    • Dear Michelle,

      Thanks for reaching out to the team! I’m so sorry you’re having this challenge. Irregular cycles can be very frustrating. It’s ok to follow your normal seed cycling plan for irregular cycles.

      Seed cycling is a very safe, flexible approach. You can switch to your luteal phase seeds after your known ovulation day, or you can switch to them earlier (around day 14) if your follicular phase is very long.

      The seeds really just help to support the body properly metabolize the hormones of each phase. It is quite gentle.

      I hope this helps!

    • Avatar

      Hi Michelle!
      Did you have any success with getting a more regular period cycle and/or conceiving?

    • Avatar

      I have the same situation. So if my cycle is super irregular, I just stick with 14 day/14day seed rotation no matter what my cycle is doing in order to regulate it? Do I switch to flax/pumpkin seeds at the end of the first 28 days even if my period hasn’t started??

    • Dear Sarah,

      It is best to try this yes!

  13. Avatar

    Please were can i get the seed cycling?

  14. Avatar

    There are several controversial articles online that say flax seed actually has estrogenic effects that are harmful for women with fibroids. How can it be both harmful & helpful at the same time?

    • Dear Anne,

      Flax seeds do contain small amounts of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens can bind weakly to estrogen receptor sites in the body. What is important to understand is that in order to promote healthy estrogen balance within our bodies, we have to consider how herbal phytoestrogens protect us from harmful xenoestrogens (toxins), which come from human-made chemicals (herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers to name a few) and are found in conventional foods, personal and body care products, paper products… a great many of the things many use in their daily lives. Xenoestrogens may cause estrogen dominance. They are “excess estrogen”. Excess estrogen in one of the main culprits in causing not only fibroid growth, but also hormonal imbalance which then causes disordered ovulation, etc. When the body has properly detoxified from toxins (fiber from flax seeds) and excess estrogen properly metabolized, our good, beneficial hormones are able to connect with hormone receptor sites and benefit various body systems and maintain hormonal balance (while working to prevent fibroid growth).

      I would not say that consuming flax seeds is harmful personally.

      I hope this is a helpful explanation!