The easy clues that reveal where you are in your cycle right now

My Hormonology

The easy clues that reveal where you are in your cycle right now

magnifying1I know I should be dispensing Hormonology Tips in some kind of orderly way–maybe cramp-busters on Mondays, mood-lifters on Tuesdays, surprising new research on Wednesdays.

But, I’m just not that organized. Oftentimes, you’re right there with me as I unearth fascinating new hormone research. Or you’re along for the ride as I (or my friends and family) have a hormone-related experience and then I show you how it relates to your own hormone cycle.

That’s why I’m sharing with you that this morning I had to readjust the cycle length setting on my Hormone Horoscope App (seriously, if you haven’t downloaded this free app yet, what are you waiting for?). That’s because I realized my cycle length had changed and I transitioned from Week 2 to Week 3 today–which is one day ahead of schedule.

See, women who have the same length cycle month after month have it easy–they know exactly how long their cycle will last, when they transition from Week 1 to Week 2 to Week 3 to Week 4, and when their period will arrive.

Women like me who have a cycle that varies in length from month to month aren’t as lucky: We have to figure out where we are in our cycle as we go along.

Luckily, Hormonology makes this so much easier. That’s because it shows you how each week of your cycle comes with a set of distinct clues that help you pinpoint exactly where you are.

For instance? Well, this morning when I woke up, I groused about the lousy sleep I had, I was super-irritated at the littlest things (like how cold my slippers were and why the guy down the street has to use his leaf blower so early in the morning), and I started to get a headache–all hallmarks of plunging estrogen.

Then, I was so foggy-headed I forgot to put my teabag in my mug after pouring in the hot water, my eyes instantly filled with tears after picking up a t-shirt with cat claw holes made by my beloved kitty, Bella, who’d recently passed away, and I suddenly craved toaster sticks and syrup like crazy–all hallmarks of rising progesterone.

There was no doubt about it: Plunging estrogen + rising progesterone = me entering Week 3.

So today I’d like to share the clues you can look for that can help you pinpoint which week of your cycle you’re in–in case you ever lose track or your cycle length varies:

Week 1
First day of period to Day 7
During your Week 1 estrogen starts out at rock-bottom and begins a steady climb. While you may feel achy or fatigued during your period, once you’re past it, rising estrogen will be boosting your pep, mood, optimism and brain skills. This hormone makes you chattier and pushes you to connect with others both socially and romantically. It also has a slight appetite-suppressing effect, which makes it a bit easier to eat smaller portions and opt for healthier foods. In general, you’ll find that as your estrogen rises, you get a bit more curious about the world around you, want to have fun, enjoy shopping for items even if you don’t need them and prefer to be out of the house and among other people.

Week 2
Day 8 to Day 14 (or ovulation)
Estrogen continues to rise throughout your Week 2, amping up all the positive effects you experienced during Week 1, so you’re likely to be more upbeat, optimistic, chattier and confident, plus have a sharper memory, think faster on your feet and be pondering romance far more frequently. The high level of this hormone is also making you more self-assured about your appearance. You may notice you’re using a wider range of notes as you speak and that you’re smiling and laughing more easily. However, there is one downside to be aware of in your Week 2: High estrogen can amp up anxiety, making you prone to stressing out over issues big and small. By the latter part of this week, testosterone also rises, and this hormone makes you more impulsive, daring and competitive. It’s also prompting a sharp spike in your libido and makes your orgasms more intense and easier to achieve.

Week 3
Day 15 (or the day after ovulation) to Day 22
The first half of Week 3 is what I call your “pre-PMS” phase. The symptoms are like a less intense version of PMS–they may include insomnia, irritability, fatigue and a down mood. Like PMS, pre-PMS is caused by plunging estrogen. Luckily, by the second half of Week 3, pre-PMS disappears as estrogen rises, which levels out your mood. All throughout Week 3, rising progesterone has you feeling sleepy, quiet, less interested in socializing and more cautious. It’s also causing your libido to rapidly decline and is triggering cravings for ooey gooey comfort foods rich in sugar, fat and salt. If you’re sensitive to progesterone, you may feel a bit blue or weepy. Progesterone may make you feel a tad forgetful and can make it more difficult to speak eloquently, so you may not recall the exact word you want to say or you may end up adding in a bunch of “um”s and “ah”s as you talk.

Week 4
Day 23 to the end of cycle
During this premenstrual week, estrogen and progesterone plunge, which can trigger moodiness, the blues, aches, insomnia, headaches and a wide variety of other PMS-related symptoms. Not every woman suffers from premenstrual syndrome and symptoms can be milder or more severe from month to month, often due to diet, stress, medications, exercise habits or your body’s personal sensitivity to hormones. During this premenstrual week, declining estrogen can amp up negativity, making you feel a bit pessimistic, cynical and critical of others as well as yourself. But, it’s not all bad news. In fact, this week your libido returns, though technically that’s not due to hormones. Researchers believe it’s because nerve endings down below get stimulated as your body prepares for menstruation. Many women even rely on this as a clue that their period is arriving soon.

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