My Hormonology

One key benefit of Hormonology is that you now know what’s coming down the pike. No more guessing. You won’t be waking up and wondering if you’ll be up, down, somewhere in between. For the most part, you can pinpoint what your mood, energy, general outlook and more will be like anywhere in your cycle based on real scientific research. Cool, right?

Well, with this ability to get a glimpse into what kind of days are coming up, you can make the next week of your cycle even better while you’re still in the present one. That’s because you can schedule the kind of plans that will match the activities you’ll prefer, the foods you’ll want to eat, the mood you’ll be in and what your energy level will be. And, better yet, you can avoid scheduling the types of activities that don’t match up.

Want to try it for yourself? Here’s how to make the next week of your cycle better when you’re in your….

Week 1: Plan something big
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
While period aches and fatigue combined with low estrogen in Week 1 may make you feel like the last thing you’ll ever want to do is ride a roller coaster, go rock climbing or attend a standing-room only party, remember that Week 2 you is all about excitement, having fun and socializing thanks to high estrogen and testosterone. So, do Week 2 you a favor and schedule at least one great adventure and accept at least one party invitation or, better yet, plan to throw your own!

Week 2: Ramp it down
Day 8 to ovulation (which is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)
During your Week 2, high estrogen and testosterone make it seem like the party will never end. Sadly, however, it does. And that happens at the start of Week 3 when estrogen and testosterone take a steep dive and sedating progesterone rises, prompting you to be more reserved and less social. So, do Week 3 you a favor and accept fewer invites for big, loud bashes that will fall during the next week of your cycle. Instead, plan quieter activities—maybe a walk through a park or a visit to a museum. And be sure to stock the house with healthy snacks since rising progesterone is making you more sensitive to drops in blood sugar between meals, which can lead to the hunger crankies if you go too long without eating. You may also want refill your stash of favorite treats since this same hormone is ratcheting up cravings for much-loved comfort foods. Suffer from sore breasts in the second week of your cycle? Start cutting back on butter, whole milk and other foods high in saturated fat now: Research shows that saturated fat intensifies breast tenderness by triggering inflammation and worsening water retention.

Week 3: Prepare to pamper
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (which is Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
It’s no secret that your premenstrual Week 4 is right around the corner. Luckily, little things you do in Week 3 can help make it a happier experience: If you don’t already, start taking a multivitamin with iron daily. Research shows that even slight deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can worsen PMS symptoms. Continue to keep your fridge stocked with healthy snacks since progesterone still makes you more sensitive to blood sugar drops between meals, which can worsen premenstrual irritability. And give yourself a lot of fun, familiar things to look forward to in your Week 4, for instance, by DVRing re-runs of your favorite shows, planning a movie night or scheduling some pampering, such as a mani/pedi. Not only do favorite fun activities boost flagging levels of feel-good chemicals as you do them, research shows that simply anticipating the fun to come lifts your mood, too, which can ease your transition into Week 4.

Week 4: Be period pro-active
Final 6 days of cycle
Believe it or not, simple actions you take in your premenstrual Week 4 can help you reduce or altogether avoid menstrual cramp pain in Week 1. All it takes is pinpointing the three days before your period (you can guesstimate), then taking one to three ibuprofen (spaced out), one gram of fish oil (containing both EPA and DHA) or popping 200 IU of vitamin E twice daily on those three days. These block the production of prostaglandins—hormone-like chemicals behind menstrual cramp pain—which means a less painful period. Even better? All three methods also reduce bleeding, so you’re likely to get less fatigued from blood loss. Also key: Continue to take that multivitamin with iron I recommended in Week 3 (and try to take this throughout your whole cycle). Replenishing iron you lose during menstruation can help keep your energy and mood elevated throughout your Week 1. Wondering what events to plan in your Week 1? Keep this in mind: During the first half of your period week, low estrogen can have you feeling a bit quiet and preferring to be a bit of a homebody. However, by the middle of Week 1, a rising level of estrogen makes you want to get out of the house, reconnect with pals and chat up a storm, which makes it a perfect time for a fun brunch or dinner party.

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