Caution! 4 warnings for each week of your cycle

My Hormonology

Caution! 4 warnings for each week of your cycle

BY GABRIELLE LICHTERMAN

 

JULY 14, 2020—It’s helpful to know how hormones will be impacting you throughout your menstrual cycle. One reason is because you can take full advantage of the benefits that come your way. But, perhaps an even more important reason is so you can get a heads-up about potential challenges during your cycle so you can use tools to cope with them or even overcome them altogether.

Below I’ve rounded up four warnings to be cautious of during each week of your menstrual cycle, plus easy ways to deal with them. Scroll down to learn more…

My Hormonology

WEEK 1

First day of period (Day 1) through Day 7

Be cautious with…

TEA: Certain compounds in black tea (tannins and oxalates) bind to iron from non-meat food (such as beans and tofu) and supplements, reducing iron’s absorption by about 64%. That’s important since you’re already shedding iron as you bleed. If you limit how much your body absorbs by drinking tea, then your iron level will sink even lower, which can lead to fatigue, anxiety, sadness and/or insomnia.
Easy fix: Drink your favorite cup of black tea an hour before or after you take an iron supplement or eat an iron-rich plant-based meal.

CALCIUM: Calcium can block iron absorption from both plant-based and animal-based food. As you just read with tea, during your period it’s smart to get the full amount of iron from your foods or supplements to avoid low iron-related problems.
Easy fix: If you supplement with calcium, aim to take it one hour before or one hour after you load up on iron.

COLD TEMPS: Chilly temperatures can worsen menstrual cramp pain by tightening uterine muscles and narrowing blood flow to the uterus.
Easy fix: Layer up while in brisk weather, keep cold swims and cool showers short and/or apply an adhesive heat patch, microwaveable rice pack or hot water bottle to your pelvic area to relax tensed muscles and increase blood flow.

PAINFUL STUFF: Low estrogen during your Week 1 can make you more sensitive to discomfort. One reason is that too little of this hormone means your brain is producing less endorphins, a natural pain-killer. This can make small issues more challenging to deal with, such as dental procedures and minor surgery.
Easy fix: If you can, pick a day in your Week 2 for these and other ouchies. Higher estrogen on those cycle days prompts a higher production of pain-masking endorphins, so sensitivity to discomfort is at its lowest.

WEEK 2

Day 8 through ovulation (typically Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)

Be cautious with…

CAFFEINE: Spiking estrogen is already making your mental and physical energy peak on these cycle days. Caffeine may be a mild stimulant, but when you consume too much, it amplifies your hormonal bump in pep, which could end up pushing you into antsy, anxious or jittery territory.
Easy fix: Determine how much caffeine is just enough on your Week 2 cycle days without causing jitters, then stick to that limit.

ALCOHOL: There is a strong chance you could drink too much beer, wine or liquor on these cycle days. The reason is high-and-rising estrogen. When spiking, this hormone floods your brain with a bigger surge of feel-good rewarding chemicals whenever you ingest beverages or foods that have a mood-lifting effect. This could make you want to order another round, then another, then another….
Easy fix: As with caffeine, determine how much alcohol is right for you, then stick to that limit. As a guide, health experts recommend that women consume no more than one alcoholic drink per day, which translates into one 12-ounce beer, one five-ounce glass of wine or a one-and-a-half-ounce shot of spirits.

JUMPING: Research shows that high estrogen loosens ligaments and soft tissue that support your knees and ankles, making them stretchier. The result: A mistimed jump, kick or sudden sprint can result in a knee or ankle injury.
Easy fix: To avoid getting hurt, wear stable footwear. And focus more on how you land and move when active or walking on unstable or bumpy ground.

RISKY STUFF: Studies show that you’re likely to take bigger risks on your Week 2 cycle days. That’s high estrogen’s fault. It makes you more optimistic and daring—a surefire combination for betting more than you should when gambling, driving faster than what’s safe for the road conditions or giving your heart to someone you met like just 10 minutes ago.
Easy fix: To steer clear of losing your money, health or heart, take a few more minutes to consider what you’re doing before you lunge headfirst into it. Or get a second opinion—optimally from a gal who’s not also in her go-for-it Week 2.

WEEK 3

Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (which is typically Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)

Be cautious with…

DIETING: When you restrict calories and eat less on your Week 3 cycle days, elevated progesterone can make you more sensitive to dips in blood sugar. The result: A sudden energy crash, spike in anger or an all-out cry-fest. Go too far, you can even get dizzy and faint, which can then lead to a serious head injury or broken bone.
Easy fix: When trying to curb calorie intake, opt for safe, healthy methods that keep blood sugar stable. These include eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, loading up on a greater amount of filling low-calorie foods (such as whole vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains and lean protein) and including a little healthy fat (such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado), which  slows digestion, balancing blood sugar and making you feel fuller longer.

LATE NIGHTS: One of the biggest challenges in your Week 3 is a significant drop in mental and physical energy. That’s due to a steep decline in estrogen during the first few days of this cycle week along with a steady rise in sedating progesterone throughout your Week 3. If you try to stay up late to watch a movie, read or work, the lack of sleep combined with hormone-fueled fatigue could have you feeling like a zombie the next day.
Easy fix: To try to preserve your pep despite sedating hormones, not only is it wise to try to get to sleep on time, try to squeeze in a little more sleep than usual by turning in earlier or waking up later. Also consider taking a daytime nap if you need to recharge, avoid large, heavy meals (which use up more energy as you digest) and/or enjoy a fun bout of exercise.

LOOSE BRAS: You may have breast tenderness during your Week 3 due to hormone fluctuations that affect sensitive breast tissue. And the more you walk, run or climb stairs, the more pain you could feel.
Easy fix: There’s one easy way to keep breast pain at bay that researchers swear by: Wear a snug-fitting bra. Studies show this simple step prevents most cycle-related breast pain by keeping inflamed breast tissue firmly in place so it doesn’t stretch or pull.

SAD STUFF: A steep drop in estrogen coupled with a rise in sedating progesterone can make you more prone to experiencing moments of sadness. And you’ll be even more easily pushed to tears by sad movies, books, songs and news.
Easy fix: If you don’t have time for a full-blown cry, opt for uplifting, mood-boosting entertainment and news on these cycle days.

WEEK 4

Final 6 days of your cycle

Be cautious with…

DIETING: Just like with your Week 3, you can be more sensitive to drops in blood sugar when reducing your food intake due to elevated progesterone.
Easy fix: Follow the same simple protocol as suggested in your Week 3 to keep your energy and mood stable, which includes grazing on small meals, loading up on low-calorie healthy foods and including a little healthy digestion-slowing fat.

CAFFEINE: During your premenstrual phase, estrogen is plunging, which can make you more likely to experience moments of anger or anxiety. Unfortunately, adding caffeine can make you even more prone to getting hit with these uncomfortable mood changes. That’s because it’s a stimulant, which means it takes an edgy mood and makes it even edgier.
Easy fix: Ramp down your caffeine consumption a little to avoid triggering or worsening mood changes. But, don’t skip caffeine entirely if you’re an avid drinker since you don’t want to spur a bad mood from caffeine withdrawal either.

STRESS: Many studies show that stress worsens premenstrual symptoms, such as irritability, sadness, pain and sleep troubles. One reason may be because of inflammation that stress causes in the body and brain.
Easy fix: While it’s often frustratingly impossible to get rid of what’s stressing you out, it is often possible to fit stress relievers into your day, such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, exercise, art-making, nature walks and soft, lulling music. Try out a variety of stress relievers to find out which work for you.

PAINFUL STUFF: As with your Week 1, low estrogen can make you more sensitive to discomfort in your Week 4.
Easy fix: If you can, try to avoid scheduling shots, medical procedures or anything else that may have the potential to hurt a lot on these cycle days.

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