Final 6 days of your cycle:
Estrogen and progesterone plunge
Estrogen drops throughout your premenstrual Week 4 and the lower it goes, the more it has the potential to drag down your mood and make you sad, irritable or anxious.
However—and this is a big “however”—not all women have bad moods during their premenstrual weeks. Depending on your genes and how healthy your lifestyle is (if you’re getting good sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and destressing), you could have just a little or no premenstrual grumpiness or you could be hit with many bouts of bad moods.
Regardless of what type of mood issues you experience, generally, plunging estrogen can make you more cynical, pessimistic and critical since it has you focusing more on negatives than positives. Because of this, you’re more wary, which makes you prefer safe or fully tested options over anything that’s uncoventional or new, for example, when choosing a restaurant, you’d likely pick one where you’ve eaten dozens of times already rather than one where you’ve never been.
Surprisingly, this typically isn’t the most tired week of your cycle. That honor goes to your Week 3 when rising progesterone saps your pep. Research shows that as the level of this sedating hormone goes down in this cycle week, you get a bit more energized.
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 estrogen 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.
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 estrogen 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 estrogen. Talk with your healthcare provider about symptoms that reappear regularly at certain times in your cycle since many treatments can be tailored around these hormone fluctuations to prevent them ahead of time.