12 Aug You’re more easily grossed out in your luteal phase
- Hormonology Guide: You’re more easily grossed out by offensive odors and sights, like rotting meat, infected wounds and dirty food, in the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle due to elevated progesterone, research shows.
AUGUST 12, 2021—We all have gross tasks we need to do at some point, such as throw away moldy food we found in the back of the fridge or pull a knot of goopy hair out of the shower drain. And sometimes, we actually want to do stomach-churning stuff, like watch a gory movie.
Well, there are days in your menstrual when you’ll handle these stomach-churning to-dos just fine and other days in your cycle when it’s best to avoid them. That’s because your hormones impact how sensitive you are to offensive odors and sights, research shows.1
Read on to get a quick rundown of what you can expect during your cycle….
Day 1 through ovulation (Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)
Get all your grossest chores in during your follicular phase–the first half of your menstrual cycle, starting with the first day of your period and lasting through ovulation (aka your Week 1 and Week 2). On these days, rising estrogen and bottomed-out progesterone mean you’re able to handle unappealing sights and smells a lot more easily. Found a piece of stale bread that’s so green from mold it looks like lettuce? You’ll whip it into the trash no prob. A big ol’ bug is crawling on the living room wall? You’ll capture it in a cup and chuck it outside without breaking a sweat. Your freshly-made toast falls on the floor? You’ll invoke the “five-second rule”, pick it up, dust it off and put it on your plate.
Same goes with queasy-inducing entertainment. If you’ve wanted to watch a fright-fest movie marathon, dig into an excrutiatingly-detailed murder mystery novel or try your hand at cooking with stinky durian fruit, schedule it for these cycle days. Your hormones will make them all seem a bit less icky. In fact, as mood-boosting estrogen climbs, you’ll probably enjoy the adrenaline spike you get from this kind of revolting fun.
Day after ovulation (Day 15 in a 28-day cycle) through the day before your period (Day 28 in a 28-day cycle)
Heads up: You’re more sensitive to disgusting smells and off-putting sights during your luteal phase–the second half of your menstrual cycle, spanning the day after ovulation through the day before your period (aka your Week 3 and Week 4). The reason? Researchers point to elevated progesterone. In case you got pregnant during ovulation, this hormone suppresses the immune system so your body doesn’t perceive a fertilized egg as a harmful invader and attack it. With your immune defenses down, your body then tries to steer you away from anything that could be a health hazard by making you more aware of odorous or visible jarring red flags that could indicate trouble. As a result, you get squeamish when seeing your dad’s infected toenail, gag at the bathroom smell your roommate left behind and throw the bowl of salsa out after you spot your friend dunk her half-chewed tortilla chip back into it. So, it probably goes without saying that you should also totally avoid looking at the pore-unclogging strip after you peel it off.
Want to track other ways your hormones impact you? Chart every facet of your menstrual cycle with my customizable Hormonology Menstrual Cycle Tracker Journal–a paperback journal that makes period tracking easy and is 100% private. Available at Amazon.
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(1) Diana S. Fleischman, Daniel M.T. Fessler, Progesterone’s effects on the psychology of disease avoidance: Support for the compensatory behavioral prophylaxis hypothesis, Hormones and Behavior, 59 (2011): 271-275
Agnieszka Żelaźniewicz, et al., “The progesterone level, leukocyte count and disgust sensitivity across the menstrual cycle”, Physiology & Behavior, 161 (2016): 60-65