My HormonologyReady for flu season? Suzi, a Hormonology newsletter subscriber, asked me this timely question yesterday.

My answer: Definitely not during your Week 4. I did that last month and, boy, did I regret it. The lingering muscle pain after getting the shot is far more intense because plunging estrogen is depleting your brain of pain-masking endorphins. I recommend aiming to get your flu shot during the second half of Week 1 (four to seven days after the first day of your period). By then, rising estrogen is blunting pain by boosting the output of those lovely pain-masking endorphins. And, as it rises throughout the rest of Week 1 and Week 2, you’ll have less muscle soreness.

Also, if it’s available in your area, I recommend you get the new flu shot called Fluzone Intradermal vaccine. The needle is far shorter and delivers the vaccine just underneath the skin rather than into muscle tissue, so many folks say they don’t experience the post-shot soreness. (For the record, I thought I was getting that shot, but the pharmacist gave me the traditional needle instead. Ergh. So, be sure you double-check before you get poked.)

Want to help make your flu vaccine more effective? Pump iron before getting your shot! Or at least lift bottles of water for a few minutes. When researchers tested the immune response from flu shots in a recent study, women who lifted weights prior to receiving theirs developed more flu-fighting antibodies! One theory why: A short bout of stress tells your body to bolster its defenses to prepare for a challenge.

My Hormonology

Want even more health protection? Look at someone who’s coughing or sneezing! According to an interesting, small study out of the University of British Columbia, simply seeing someone who’s ill (either in person or in a photo) prompts a 23% rise in compounds sent out by white blood cells to fight off bacteria, indicating a stronger immune response. The researchers theorize that the sight of a sick person sends a message to your body that a threat is imminent so it should reinforce its defenses. So, you’re welcome!

Have a question of your own? For instance, how Hormonology works, which is the best week of your cycle to do an activity or how your hormones impact you in a certain way? Ask me! Send your question to gabrielle [at] hormonehoroscope.com. It could end up in the next Hormonology post!

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