solo1Last night, my husband and I hosted our monthly discussion group where we get together with a bunch of friends at a restaurant and chat about science, philosophy and current events. Usually I (rather selfishly, I admit) schedule this monthly event to coincide with my Week 2–when I know high estrogen is making me chatty, upbeat, extroverted, energetic, wittier and sharper.

Unfortunately for me, this month there were scheduling conflicts with everyone else in the group when my Week 2 rolled around. As a result, we had to put off the event till my premenstrual Week 4–when plunging estrogen has the total and exact opposite effects of rising estrogen. And, wow, what a difference I experienced:

Rather than look forward to seeing friends and getting out of the house, I dreaded it. I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed working on my computer with snacks by my side and the soothing sounds of the TV droning on in the background.

Instead of getting dressed up like I normally do, I donned a pair of jeans and my baggiest shirt. Seriously, this top was so shapeless, it must have been a potato sack in a past life. Only at Douglas’s urging did I begrudgingly pretty it up with a necklace.

Once we got there, I really had to push myself to join in the conversation. Normally, there’s no shutting me up and I have to rein myself in to allow others their turn. And on the rare occasions I did pipe up, rather than expound on my many, many, many personal theories about the world and charm everyone with clever turns of phrase, a fog settled into my brain as thick as the warm comforter I wanted so badly to be under at home, making me forget even the simplest ideas I’d come prepared to discuss.

Then there were the little things I found annoying–the light in the restaurant was too bright, the background noise too loud and I was 100% certain the waitress was giving me the stink-eye.

So, why do I bring this up? Because I want to point out how your hormones can impact how you, too, feel about socializing from week to week in your cycle–sometimes, experiencing a dramatic shift from complete extrovert to total introvert.

Luckily, by knowing how social you’ll be feeling during each week of your cycle, you can capitalize on your extroverted days–say, by planning to meet with friends or attend events–and compensate on days when you know you know you’ll feel less like socializing–for instance, in my case, I simply acknowledged I wasn’t going to be as “on” as I normally am and that I’d take a back seat in the discussion that night.

To help you plan your social calendar more effectively, here’s a quick summary of how much you’ll feel like socializing throughout each week of your cycle:

Week 1: Quiet start, chatty finish
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
At the start of Week 1, period-related aches and fatigue coupled with low estrogen may make you feel like cocooning at home. However, this won’t last long: By the time the middle of Week 1 arrives, the combination of rising estrogen and a period that’s petering off is likely giving you the urge to break out of your menstrual hut and get out into the world to mingle. You’ll be joining more conversations, coming up with more of your own ideas to discuss and generally enjoying having more friends and family around you.

Week 2: It’s your time to shine
Day 8 to ovulation (which is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)
Throughout your Week 2, high estrogen is ratcheting up all the traits that make you the life of the party: You’re outgoing, confident, chatty, eloquent, bold, expressive, funny, charming, smart, energetic and willing to roll with the punches. This rising hormone is also making you enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new things, so you’re open to accepting invitations you might normally turn down during other weeks of your cycle.

Week 3: Slowing down, fogging up
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (which is Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
Once your Week 3 rolls around, your desire to socialize starts to change: As estrogen dips and progesterone rises, this hormonal combination has you quieter, tired, less emotive and preferring the company of people you know well to strangers and places you’ve visited many times before to unfamiliar destinations. And remember that eloquence and sharp wit you enjoyed in your Week 2? You can wave buh-bye to those as they’re slowly replaced by a few short-term memory lapses and quite a few “ums” and “ahs” as you form your sentences.

Week 4: Craving one-on-one or solo time
Final 6 days of your cycle
As estrogen nosedives in your premenstrual Week 4, it creates brain changes that make socializing simultaneously less enticing and more difficult to do: It’s reducing your desire to talk, dinging your memory, lessening your confidence, zapping your energy and making you more easily annoyed by people and uncomfortable surroundings. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to hole up in your bedroom all by yourself for your entire premenstrual week: When not enjoying quality alone-time, you probably won’t mind sharing the company of a close friend or family member who knows you well and is totally cool with giving you complete control over picking the restaurant, movie and anything else you do together.

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