Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance, PCOS & Fertility

fertility hormones pcos
Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance, PCOS & Fertility

A science-based guide to seed cycling for hormone balance, PCOS and to support fertility. Learn what seeds cycling is, how it supports your hormones, and how to incorporate it into your daily routine.

What is seed cycling?

Have you heard of seed cycling? Due to modern lifestyles, many women struggle with symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles, PMS, acne and hormonal skin breakouts, PCOS, peri/menopause symptoms, or struggle with symptoms when coming off hormonal birth control methods. Seed cycling is an effective natural and nutritional method that can be used to gently support the balance of hormones that change through the different phases of the menstrual cycle, thereby supporting a more regular, symptom-free menstrual cycle.

The seeds used in seed cycling contain specific nutrients including lignans, fibres, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that support the balance of sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone throughout the menstrual cycle and omega-3s to help reduce inflammation.

The method of seed cycling involves consuming 1 tablespoon each of flaxseed and pumpkin seed in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle (day 1-14) to support the balance and detoxification of oestrogen, and 1 tablespoon each of sesame seed and sunflower seed in the luteal phase (day 15-28) of your menstrual cycle to support the production of progesterone. 

Get your menstrual cycle back on track with seed cycling

First let me explain your menstrual cycle to understand seed cycling better. An average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days (however 25-35 days can be considered normal). 

The first phase of the menstrual cycle - the follicular phase - is from day 1 (first day of your period) until approximately day 14 (or when you ovulate, which will be slightly later in a longer cycle). In this phase oestrogen is rising to build the lining of the uterus and plays a role in boosting libido (alongside testosterone).

During the second phase of the menstrual cycle - the luteal phase - which is the 10-14 days from ovulation until your next period (typically day 15-28 in a 28 day cycle), progesterone is rising. Progesterone is made from the corpus luteum, an important organ leftover after an egg is released from ovulation. Progesterone is responsible for maintaining a pregnancy in the first trimester and is an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and metabolism boosting hormone.

Oestrogen and progesterone need to be in balance, otherwise symptoms like irregular cycles, painful periods, PMS, or skin breakouts, can occur.

Should I use seed cycling for PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)?

Not a lot of scientific studies have been conducted on seed cycling as yet. However a recent 2023 study conducted on 90 PCOS women between the ages of 19-40, compared seed cycling with a portion control diet to Metformin with a portion control diet, to no treatment. The seed cycling group lost weight, had a reduction of excess follicles (cysts) on the ovaries, improved hormonal balance including lowered androgens, and improve thyroid function. The study also found the seeds contain omega 3s which help reduce high insulin and cholesterol that causes PCOS symptoms, and beta-sitosterol which lowers androgens that cause PCOS symptoms.

Furthermore, several studies have found flaxseed (used in the follicular phase of seed cycling) improves metabolic and hormonal balance in PCOS women and supports weight loss in PCOS.

Can seed cycling support fertility?

Nutrition plays a key role in supporting fertility for a number of reasons:

  • helps to balance hormones, regulate the menstrual cycle, and support ovulation and progesterone production, which is critical to be able to fall pregnant and maintain pregnancy
  • increases antioxidants to improve egg (and sperm) quality to increase the chances of falling pregnant and improving pregnancy outcomes
  • reduces inflammation to increase implantation 
  • provides the essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support reproductive health

Whilst there is little research to directly support the relationship between seed cycling and fertility, there are correlations between the nutrients and essential fatty acids provided by flaxseed, pumpkin seed, sesame seed and sunflower seeds, and reproductive health. 

It certainly wouldn't hurt and may help using seed cycling as part of your fertility friendly nutrition! Tip: ensure your seeds are certified organic to reduce any endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that may impact hormones, reproductive health and fertility.

How to start seed cycling

Simply include 1 tablespoon each (2 tablespoons total) daily of flaxseed and pumpkin seed during your follicular phase (day 1-14) and 1 tablespoon each daily of sesame seed and sunflower seed during your luteal phase (day 15-28).

 Image thanks to The Seed Cycle


What if I have an irregular cycle?

If you have an irregular (or even missing) menstrual cycle, you can still incorporate seed cycling to help bring your menstrual cycle back into balance! Instead of rotating the seeds with your menstrual cycle, you can follow the moon phases as a guideline. 

Following the image above, you would consume flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds for 14 days, from day 1 of a new moon. Then switch to sesame seeds and sunflower seeds for 14 days from a full moon. 

It may seem a little woo-woo, but women's natural balanced cycles often sync with the lunar cycle / moon phases (which is around 29 days). The moon's luminance and gravitational pull is suggested to impact women's menstrual cycle phases. Given the cycles are approximately the same length of time, it gives guidance as to an easy way to incorporate seed cycling to help bring your menstrual cycle back into balance.

Nutritional components in seeds


Flaxseeds and sesame seeds contain lignans that support the balance of oestrogen. As well as the lignans in flaxseeds helping to bind to excess oestrogen, flaxseeds are phytoestrogens and exert weak oestrogen effects on the body, thereby balancing oestrogen in either high or low oestrogen states. Flaxseeds can also help to lengthen the luteal phase to increase progesterone production. Lignans in sesame seeds have also been shown to support hormone balance, improve blood lipids and increase antioxidants in postmenopausal women. Seed cycling can truly be effective at all stages of life!


Flaxseed and pumpkin seed are rich in omega 3 fats, which are an essential fatty acid. Omega 3s reduce inflammation, improve blood flow to the uterus, help maintain healthy cell membranes, and support fertility.


Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are good sources of zinc. Zinc plays a number of key roles in hormone production, reduces skin breakouts, reduces androgens in PCOS that cause menstrual cycle irregularities and other PCOS symptoms, and supports fertility. Zinc also improves the formation of the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone after ovulation.


Further hormone supportive nutrients in the seeds include vitamin E which help egg quality for fertility and boosting progesterone for hormone balance and fertility; magnesium for oestrogen elimination, sleep quality, mood, blood sugar balance, and reducing period cramps; iron which is depleted during your period and is important for energy and thyroid function; and selenium, a powerful antioxidant that supports fertility, thyroid function and heart health. Seeds really are a powerhouse of nutrients!

How to incorporate seed cycling in your daily routine

It is recommended to consume 1 tablespoon of each seeds (2 tablespoons) daily in your seed cycling routine. Raw, ground seeds are best, especially for flaxseed. You can grind seeds in a coffee grinder or Nutribullet. Seeds are best stored in an airtight container in the fridge to keep the oils fresh. Where possible, opt for certified organic seeds to reduce exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Some easy ideas you can use to incorporate seeds cycling include:

  • Sprinkle over yogurt and berries, oat porridge, overnight oats, or chia seed pudding
  • Sprinkle over nourish bowls or mix into salad dressings and drizzle over salads and nourish bowls
  • Make a herb seeded pesto 
  • Make a homemade seed butter
  • Sprinkle over toast
  • Add to smoothies

The Seed Cycle - Australia's first seed cycling solution

The Seed Cycle is a done for you seed cycling solution that was founded and run by an Australian woman (I personally LOVE supporting women in business!). The Seed Cycle Phase 1 includes flaxseed and pumpkin seed and Phase 2 includes sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, which you can buy on subscription to conveniently have this delivered to your door. They also have 2 baking mixes, one for each phase, making seed cycling easy and delicious. The products are certified organic, reducing our exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. To purchase The Seed Cycle products, read their incredible blog and resources (including an amazing recipe book!) click here. Mel and The Seed Cycle team have offered 20% off for my community with the code TRIS20 to receive your discount.

Need more help with balancing your hormones?

Tris is a women's health Clinical Nutritionist passionate about educating, empowering and supporting women to reduce and resolve symptoms of PCOS, PMS, perimenopause, acne and irregular menstrual cycles. She uses functional testing and science backed methods to get to the root causes of your symptoms, and provides practical and achievable nutrition and lifestyle advice to help you thrive. Tris has an online clinic, seeing clients from all over the world. For more details on how Tris can help you, book a complimentary Wellness Discovery Call here.


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