As estrogen plunges during Week 4 of your cycle (your premenstrual week), it brings down the brain’s level of pain-masking endorphins with it, which makes you more sensitive to discomfort, like headaches, sore muscles and chronic conditions, like fibromyalgia. And now researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands say that there’s another culprit behind worsening pain in women: an angry or sad mood. How they proved it: When female study volunteers were asked to think about situations that made them either irritated or blue, their sensitivity to pain caused by electric currents rose significantly compared to when given the same electrical current while thinking of something neutral. While this study didn’t look at the cause, past research has shown that stress hormones produced during negative moods intensifies pain.
Unfortunately, as any woman knows, an angry or sad mood is practically the hallmark of Week 4 of your cycle. So, what can you do to avoid pain? Anything you can to lift your mood, such as go for a walk, talk with a friend, treat yourself to something you love, play miniature golf, watch a funny TV show or sniff your favorite fragrant flower. Not only does doing something you enjoy distract you from discomfort, it actually lifts levels of endorphins, serotonin and other mood-regulating brain chemicals and puts the kibosh on pain-magnifying cortisol, so you feel happier and more comfortable!
[photo: Orin Zebest]