The emotions you see in people’s faces changes according to where you are in your monthly cycle

/The emotions you see in people’s faces changes according to where you are in your monthly cycle

The emotions you see in people’s faces changes according to where you are in your monthly cycle

happysadBeing able to detect emotions in people’s faces is an important trait since it helps you communicate with others more effectively. For instance, it tells you when a friend is troubled so you can offer help, when a hiring manager is getting bored during an interview so you can pump up your enthusiasm or when you need to stop serving your roommate fried okra because she doesn’t actually like it.

So, you might find it interesting to discover that your ability to detect emotions tends to fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle.

Generally speaking, during the first half of your cycle (from the first day of your period through ovulation) you’re better at interpreting facial cues to figure out what someone is feeling, according to a handful of studies (like this one, this one and this one).

Researchers theorize that it’s because rising estrogen on these cycle days is pushing you to make more social connections and seek out a mate. So, being accurately tuned in to someone’s mood would be important for better and quicker communication.

However, one study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology shows that you may have one weak spot when it comes to interpreting emotions in the first half of your cycle: According to this research, high estrogen makes you less likely to spot sadness and disgust in others on the days leading up to ovulation. It may be because high estrogen is boosting your mood and reducing your worry, so you’re not on the lookout for negative emotions that might indicate trouble.

Contrast this with the second half of your cycle (which spans from the day after ovulation to the day before your next period): On these days, research shows you’re more likely to interpret someone’s neutral facial expression as angry or sad–when, in fact, the person is feeling just fine. That’s because progesterone puts you on higher alert for potential problems to watch out for in case you got pregnant during ovulation and need to be more careful. As a result, you’re scrutinizing the world–and all the people in it–with a more critical, wary eye.

So, what’s the takeaway here? 

When reading someone’s face to gauge their emotional temperature, keep in mind where you are in your monthly cycle:

If you’re in the first half of your cycle, go with your gut because your high estrogen is generally making you more likely to be correct.

However, also be aware that you may be missing signals that someone is sad or distressed, so try to pay closer attention to these cues.

If you’re in the second half and you’re getting a negative vibe, remember that your plummeting hormones are making you less accurate at judging facial expressions. So while you may be assuming that someone is angry or scared, they may simply be concentrating on work, figuring out a problem in their head or daydreaming. So, accept them at their word if they tell you they’re a-okay.

[Photo: Kate Ter Haar]

By | 2017-06-06T18:21:45+00:00 November 2nd, 2016|hormonology tip, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4|0 Comments

About the Author:

Gabrielle Lichterman is the founder of Hormonology, author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods and Potential and creator of the popular Hormone Horoscope menstrual cycle tracker apps. In 2005, Gabrielle pioneered the growing movement among women to live in sync with their menstrual cycles and learn about the many ways their hormones impact their moods, health and behavior with the publication of her book, 28 Days. She's also a longtime women's health journalist whose articles have been published in major publications around the globe. Gabrielle's new updated and expanded version of 28 Days is due to be published December 2018. You can help get this book published by contributing to her crowdfunding campaign at

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