How & why your moods are affected by hormones
How much influence do our hormones have on our feelings?
As your hormones fluctuate throughout the cycle they can make you feel dramatically different from one week to the next. Understanding when this happens and how it affects you can be really useful when trying to conceive. When possible, planning your diary around your cycle can help you get the most potential out of your life.
The first half of the cycle is full of hope and potential when trying to conceive. Most women naturally feel good at this time. This is also reinforced by the hormones because the first half of the cycle is all about Oestrogen. As Oestrogen rises throughout this cycle week, this hormone will be boosting your mood, energy, and patience. It’ll also increase your desire for socialising and adventure.
Week 1 (days 1-7)
During this time you become more and more optimistic and motivated. Your verbal skills and memory improve and it’s easier to absorb new facts and learn new skills. If you don’t feel good it could be due to not eating enough iron-rich foods. This is to make up for the iron loss post bleed during menstruation. (When iron dips, it can trigger fatigue, fogginess and a down mood).
You may find that chronic or recurring health issues, such as asthma, eczema, and irritable bowel syndrome, crop up at the start of your Week 1 (following the period). This is because, even though your oestrogen level is climbing daily, you still start out with a relatively low level of this hormone. However, as oestrogen continues to climb throughout this week, symptoms generally lessen.
Higher oestrogen triggers a greater output of pain-masking endorphins in the brain, which means uncomfortable activities—such as going to the dentist, will hurt less this week than during other weeks of your cycle.
The high level of this hormone is also making you more self-assured about your appearance.
You tend to be a bit less hungry due to rising oestrogen’s slight appetite-suppressing effect. You’ll find it’s also easier to opt for lighter, healthier foods. This is because oestrogen increases willpower (boosting your ability to resist temptation) and helps your motivation.
Week 2 (Days 7-14)
One other hormone that’s key during your Week 2 is testosterone. Testosterone rises during the latter part of this week. When that happens, it tends to make you more impulsive, daring and competitive. Your libido is high all during your Week 2, however, when testosterone spikes, it boosts your libido even higher.
One downside of your Week 2: Some women experience anxiety or greater stress during this cycle week. This is due to high oestrogen triggering excessive arousal in the brain. I think that oestrogen dominance is a growing problem for women due to all the chemical oestrogens in our food and environment. Meditation, yoga, moderate aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) and chamomile tea all help reduce this hormone-fueled anxiety. Plus, individualised homeopathic treatment can help with balancing the hormones. So if you notice your moods are exaggerated beyond the norm, do reach out for help.
Week 3 (Days 14-21)
As you move past ovulation you move into the luteal phase which is the second half of the cycle. The Oestrogen drops and the second half of the cycle is more about progesterone.
Week 3 is really a two-parter. During the first half, you can experience a “pre-PMS” phase. The symptoms are like a shorter, less intense version of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). You may feel irritability, fatigue and a down mood. Like PMS, this pre-PMS phase is also caused by plunging oestrogen. While most women are aware that oestrogen plunges once in their cycle (in the six days before their period). Not many realise there are actually two oestrogen dips every cycle.
Luckily, by the second half of your Week 3, oestrogen rises again. This puts a stop to any annoying pre-PMS symptoms.
Progesterone rises throughout your Week 3. As it does, it slows you down and makes you quieter, more cautious and a bit foggy and physically fatigued. That’s because progesterone is a sedating hormone. If you’re sensitive to progesterone, this can be a cycle phase when you experience bouts of sadness or crying. Homeopathic treatment would be good if this sounds familiar as it can help your body become less sensitive to the progesterone.
During your Week 3, progesterone has you craving your favorite comfort foods that are high in fat and calories. Your appetite is also greater and you’re hungrier more often, so you tend to eat more at meals and snack more frequently. All this is because your body thinks you might have gotten pregnant during ovulation.
If you eat too little during this cycle phase (because you’ve skipped a meal or didn’t eat enough at a meal), you run the risk of experiencing a dramatic shift in mood that leads to you feeling angry or sad. That’s because many women are more sensitive to drops in blood sugar during this cycle week due to progesterone. Simply eating regularly and at the first signs of hunger pangs, can help fix this, and keep your mood stable.
Other side effects of progesterone: It can trigger constipation because it slows down digestion as a way to help your body absorb more nutrients from food in case you got pregnant. And, it prompts water retention, causing temporary bloating.
On the upside, you’re burning up to 30% more fat when you exercise thanks to the combination of oestrogen and progesterone making your body more efficient at using fat for fuel. Bonus: Exercising reduces hormone-triggered water retention by helping you sweat out excess fluid.
Your libido tends to drop significantly as a result of progesterone. However, research shows this same hormone makes you feel emotionally closer to your mate, so you may crave more hugs.
Week 4 (days 21-28)
Oestrogen drops throughout your premenstrual Week 4 and the lower it goes, the more it has the potential to drag down your mood.
However—and this is a big “however”—not all women have bad moods during their premenstrual week. Depending on your genes and how healthy your lifestyle is (if you’re getting good sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and de-stressing), you could have just a little or no premenstrual grumpiness or you could be hit with many bad moods.
Regardless of what type of mood issues you experience, generally, plunging oestrogen can make you more cynical, pessimistic and critical since it has you focusing more on negatives. Because of this, you’re more wary, which makes you prefer safe or fully tested options over anything that’s unconventional or new. For example, when choosing a restaurant, you’re more likely to pick one where you’ve eaten many times before rather than one where you’ve never been.
Surprisingly, this typically isn’t the most tired week of your cycle. That honour goes to your Week 3 when rising progesterone steels your energy. Research shows that as the level of this sedating hormone goes down in this cycle week, you get a bit more energised.
During this cycle week, your libido returns—though technically that’s not due to hormones. Researchers believe it’s because nerve endings down below get stimulated as your body prepares for menstruation.
Descending oestrogen can trigger cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods, such as sweets, pasta, and bread. The reason? As the level of this hormone drops, it drags down levels of mood-moderating serotonin in the brain—and carbohydrates help replenish it, so your body pushes you to eat more of them.
Progesterone is descending during this week. However, because it’s still at relatively high levels, you’ll likely still feel the urge to eat foods high in fat and calories and have a greater appetite.
Need to lose weight?
Looking to keep your weight in check? You burn up to 30% more fat during aerobic exercise up to a couple of days before your period due to the combination of Oestrogen and progesterone firing up your body’s fat-burners.
You may find that chronic or recurring health issues, such as asthma, eczema, and irritable bowel syndrome, worsen during your Week 4. This is due to a low level of Oestrogen.
If any of what is described above gets really exaggerated for you ie: you have extreme PMS, chances are you have some hormonal imbalance going on which is likely to be having a negative impact on your Fertility. Do book in a free chat with me to discuss your symptoms. Homeopathic treatment can be tailored around these hormone fluctuations restoring balance to your monthly cycle.