12 Oct 4 BIG insights about your hormones
BY GABRIELLE LICHTERMAN
- Here are 4 big insights about the hormones in your menstrual cycle that reveal the power they have to make every day better….
OCTOBER 12, 2021—For countless generations, virtually the only information women got about the hormones in their menstrual cycle were that their hormones made them cranky premenstrually. Or that their hormones made them cranky during their period. Or that their hormones were probably what were making them cranky whenever someone ticked them off.
However, thanks to thousands of studies conducted over the past 50 years or so by researchers around the globe, we now know our hormones aren’t just a catch-all excuse for someone to use whenever they don’t like our tone of voice or behavior.
In fact, the ups and downs of three key reproductive hormones in our menstrual cycle–estrogen, testosterone and progesterone–play an important role in a large part of our lives. For example, they’re responsible for our good moods as well as our memory, energy level, sleep quality, appetite, desire to socialize, purchasing behavior, ambition, pain sensitivity, health and the list goes on.
As a women’s health journalist, I’ve made it my mission to share this vital hormone information with everyone so that we can all understand how our cycling hormones impact us or those we love. It’s why I created Hormonology, which organizes all this valuable hormone information in a way we can use immediately in our everyday lives.
I’m proud that Hormonology has been adopted by millions around the globe, fostering the first generation to have this vital hormone knowledge and encouraging them to share it with future generations.
And today I’m sharing 4 big insights from Hormonology that help you understand the power of the hormones in your menstrual cycle….
You can use your hormones to predict your day.
For thousands upon thousands of years, women woke up then had to wait around while they figured out what their mood was that day, how much energy they had, if they wanted to socialize or stay in, what kind of foods they’d prefer to eat, what kind of activities they’d enjoy most, etc. It could take hours to pinpoint where they fell on all of these spectrums. Or maybe they’d dive headfirst into activities, then realize they didn’t have enough pep for them. Or they’d go to social events, then realize they preferred to be home. Or they’d go food shopping, then realize what they bought wasn’t what they were in the mood to eat later that week.
Thing is, women with regular, healthy menstrual cycles have always had a detailed map of exactly what they would be feeling and wanting and preferring on any given day. This map is right inside their own body.
All they needed to do was track their menstrual cycle. By knowing which day of their cycle they were on–say, Day 1 (the first day of their period) or ovulation (in the middle of their cycle) or their premenstrual Day 28–they would know what their mood, energy, desire to socialize and nearly everything else would be.
And they would know what to expect for the day they woke up as well as what to expect tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, even a year from now.
That’s because the three key reproductive hormones in your menstrual cycle–estrogen, testosterone and progesterone–exert specific effects on you based on whether these hormones are rising or falling and how high or low they go.
For example, as estrogen rises in the first half of your cycle, it boosts mood, energy and a desire for adventure. And these effects intensify the higher estrogen climbs in this phase of your cycle.
Another example: As progesterone rises in the second half of your cycle, it makes you more cautious, increases your appetite and spurs a desire to stay home rather than go out into the world and socialize.
By simply knowing where you are in your menstrual cycle, you can predict with scientific accuracy based on thousands of studies virtually every facet of your day. This means no more surprises. No more wait-and-sees.
You can use your hormones to plan your life.
When you know how your hormones are going to be affecting your mood, energy, desire to socialize and more, you can harness these hormonal effects to make every day better.
That’s because you can use this information to maximize hormonal benefits. For example, you can schedule brunches with friends on cycle days when your hormones are increasing your urge to socialize and chat. You can plan Zoom meetings with clients on cycle days when your hormones are making you more verbally eloquent and mentally sharp. And you can pack more into your to-do list on cycle days when your hormones are making your energy peak.
You can also use this information to cope with, or even overcome, hormonal challenges. For example, on days when you’ve got lots of meetings that you need to attend, but high progesterone is dragging down your energy, you’ll know that you’ve got to plan strategies to boost your pep back up, such as turning to caffeinated coffee, 100% fruit juice or a brisk walk before heading into the conference room. This way, you can overcome progesterone’s sedating effects and perform at your best.
If you have a regular, healthy menstrual cycle, you can also use your cycle to plan events in the future, such as hosting a party, getting a dental cavity filled, taking a vacation, packing up your home to move and picking a date for your wedding. All you’d need to do is use a calendar to figure out where you’ll be in your menstrual cycle in the future, then sync the event with the phase in your cycle when your mood, energy, pain sensitivity, desire to socialize and more match the activity.
You can use your hormones to sync activities you enjoy with optimal days in your cycle to make them even better.
Imagine a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Now add a dollop of hot fudge. Made it even tastier, right? Or picture attending a concert for your favorite band. Now put your favorite friend in the seat right next to you. Wouldn’t that be even more fun?
Well, a similar happiness-boosting effect happens when you deliberately sync up your favorite activities, foods, events, hobbies and people with the days in your menstrual cycle when you’d enjoy them the most.
That’s because your hormones will be revving your interest in that thing you do.
For example, on the cycle days leading up to and including ovulation, you crave variety, excitement, adventure and being surrounded by people. That’s a result of spiking estrogen, which helps flood the brain with mood-impacting chemicals that give you a bigger rewarding rush whenever you do anything new, daring and social.
These are the only days in your menstrual cycle when estrogen reaches these heights and triggers this kind of euphoria. So, it makes sense to capitalize on this hormonal effect by planning adventurous vacations, trying new restaurants, signing up to try different hobbies, getting tickets for a big concert and other exciting events on these cycle days. Your hormones will make the experience feel even more satisfying.
Another example: In the second half of your cycle, high progesterone has you enjoying quiet, sedate activities you can do by yourself or with a cherished loved one, pushes you to stick close to home, raises your level of caution and has you preferring food, people and activities you know well over trying anything new.
These are the only days in your cycle when progesterone is elevated and exerts these quieting effects. So, it makes sense to capitalize on these hormonal influences by planning favorite activities that you can do solo or with a bestie that match your mellower mood, such as visiting a museum, botanical garden or art gallery, watching a documentary, reading a book or taking a stroll. You wouldn’t appreciate these kinds of activities as much on earlier days in your cycle when rising estrogen is spurring a craving for excitement. But, on these later days in your cycle, these mellow moments are more comforting and nourishing.
You can see when your hormones are the real reason behind impulsive decisions.
Ever have one of those days when you wanted to impulsively quit something you usually enjoy…or at least tolerate…for example, leaving your job, ending your relationship, withdrawing from school or cutting out a friend?
Or, ever have one of those experiences that made you impulsively commit to something new on the spot, for example, you were convinced you were head-over-heels in love with a person after just a first date and were going to be together forever, you signed on for a lifetime membership to a gym after only a quick tour of the facility or you agreed to invest a big chunk of your savings into a colleague’s start-up company before reviewing their business plan?
Chances are, you attributed your hasty desire to quit to problems you’re having that suddenly feel like they can’t be overcome.
Or you attributed your hasty desire to commit to the seemingly guaranteed happiness you’d get from going all-in.
But, there could be another reason behind these impulsive decisions: your hormones.
I know this sounds perilously close to substantiating the awful history of blaming women for so-called irrational behavior on their hormones firing up their emotions. But, hear me out on this. I swear, I have a valid point to make that will actually help you.
There are times in your cycle when plunging estrogen can make smallish problems seem much larger and less manageable than they actually are. That’s because as the level of this hormone drops, it can take mood-regulating brain chemicals, such as serotonin, down with it. The result is that the world…and all its annoying people and events…can look bleaker and feel more stressful.
Then there are times in your cycle when peaking estrogen and testosterone make people and possibilities seem far more promising than they might actually be. That’s because as these hormones spike, they prompt the brain to churn out far more pleasure-inducing chemicals, such as dopamine. The result is that the world…and all its amazing people and opportunities…can look better and feel more hopeful.
Thing is, these hormonal influences are temporary.
Once estrogen rises again, the problems you had with your job or school or relationship or friend may not feel as terrible as they did.
And once estrogen and testosterone drop, those people and gyms and start-ups you were ready to commit yourself to may not seem like such a great idea after all.
But, that’s not all. These hormonal effects work the reverse way, too!
By that I mean a potential job or person or school or stranger may not seem worth pursuing on days in your cycle when estrogen is dropping. That’s because all those mood-impacting brain chemicals that drop with estrogen can make you focus more on flaws than benefits. For example, maybe the job is great, but the commute seems long. Or the person with whom you’re on a first date is smart and funny, but has a weird laugh. Or the university you’re considering is ranked high for the subject you want to major in, but the campus is small.
Similarly, on days in your cycle when estrogen and testosterone are peaking, you may view people and opportunities as too boring to pursue. That’s because, when high, these hormones can make you more attracted to excitement and newness. As a result, a job opportunity may not seem stimulating enough to accept. Or a first date may seem too dull to warrant a second chance.
Hormones can color how you see people, situations and the world around you. But, this is only for a temporary amount of time–just a few days. By then, a shift in hormones going up or down can change how you feel. Sometimes dramatically.
So, how can you know when you’re making a decision that you’ll be happiest with in the long-term? If you have the time, try to consider your decision through at least one full menstrual cycle.
For example, instead of resigning effective immediately from your workplace, try to see how you feel about your job one week from now, two weeks from now and three weeks from now. If you still feel that your job isn’t fulfilling through each cycle week, then you can feel confident it’s time to quit. Or if you’re considering investing in a colleague’s start-up idea, try to see how you feel about what the return on your investment will be one week from now, two weeks from now and three weeks from now. If you’re still certain that it’s the right money move for you, then go for it.
Naturally, of course, if you’re having severe problems, such as a boss that steals your work and presents it as her own, then it’s time to move on from your job pronto.
And if you want to make a long commitment to something that won’t negatively impact your or someone else’s mental or physical health, finances or safety, then there’s no harm in trying it.
Now, it’s important to point out that while a woman’s hormones can impact how she views the world and, subsequently, the decisions she makes, it doesn’t mean a woman’s hormones make her irrational.
In fact, that point is made moot when you consider this: Men have a hormone cycle, too, and are just as influenced by their hormones. Unlike a woman’s monthish-long cycle, male hormones follow a 24-hour cycle. Testosterone starts off highest in the morning, then it gradually goes down over the course of the day until it reaches its lowest point in the evening. This leads to men tending to be more impulsive in the morning and more waffly on decisions at night due to their hormonal influences.
What’s more, hormones aren’t the only factors that impact our impulsive decision-making. Anyone’s opinion of people, situations and the world around them can also be temporarily impacted by drinking alcohol, consuming excess caffeine, quitting a caffeine or nicotine habit, stubbing their toe or simply having a bad day and winning a scratch-off lottery ticket or simply having a good day.
My point is simple: Yes, women’s impulsive decisions can be influenced by hormones. However, that’s good news since you can use this information to make even better decisions. How? By pinpointing where you are in your menstrual cycle, you can know if your hormones are making you overly-doubtful or overly-hopeful. Then, you can factor that in to the decision you ultimately make.
You can find out about all the ways the ups and downs of hormones in your menstrual cycle impact you or someone you love in my award-winning book, 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals About Your Moods, Health & Potential. It’s the book that launched the cycle-syncing and hormone awareness movement that’s now followed by millions around the globe.
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Did you know you can predict your day and plan your life based solely on where you are in your menstrual cycle? And it’s easy! Learn more: MyHormonology.com/4-big-insights-about-your-hormones
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