My Hormonology

I recently taped a series of three videos that go into a bit about me and my background–and as I watched them, I laughed at how gravelly and low my voice sounded. It reminded me of my grandmother’s voice after she smoked for 60+ years straight.

Then, I remembered I’d taped these videos during the second half of my monthly cycle–my Week 3 and Week 4–and that my hormones were behind my huskier vocal tone.

See, a 2017 study in the Journal of Voice exploring the physical changes that occur in vocal cords and surrounding tissue shows that in the two weeks after ovulation, these throat areas swell and sag, which can make you sound hoarser and deeper. The reason is higher levels of progesterone–a hormone that prompts fluid retention. And, its effects peak when progesterone peaks at the end of your Week 3.

What your voice is like all cycle long

This isn’t the first study to examine voice changes throughout the menstrual cycle, but it does add more insight into the physical changes that are prompted by hormones that create these changes.

If you want to time your vocal changes around your cycle–for instance, if you do podcasts, voice-overs or videos–or simply want to know why you sound differently on different days, here’s a quick rundown of what kind of sound you can expect to come out of your mouth during each week of your cycle:

Week 1: Deep start, high finish
Day 1 (first day of your period) to Day 7
At the start of your Week 1 (your menstrual week), you speak with a slightly deeper and hoarser voice, according to a 2011 study in the journal PLOS ONE. The researchers chalk it up to high fluid content in your throat membranes due to water retention. However, as your Week 1 goes on, rising estrogen prompts your body to shed this excess fluid and your voice becomes clearer and higher.

Week 2: Higher and more attractive
Day 8 to ovulation (which is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle or day)
As estrogen continues to rise in your Week 2, your voice continues to be clear and you’re using a wider range of notes as you speak, especially higher-pitched ones. In fact, if you’re a singer, you’ll find it easier to hit hard-to-reach high notes on these days compared to other weeks in your cycle. Additionally, on the days leading up to ovulation (which occurs at the end of this week of your cycle), your voice sounds more feminine, attractive and flirtatious, according to a 2013 study in the journal Hormones and Behavior.

Week 3: Low and monotone
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (which is Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
The start of Week 3 signals a steep descent in estrogen and a rise in progesterone–a combination that has you using a somewhat narrower range of notes and having a slightly flatter sound. As progesterone prompts water retention in this week of your cycle, you may notice by the middle to end of your Week 3, your voice gets a bit deeper and throaty like it did during your menstrual week. And, thanks to that 2017 study, we now know about the changes in your throat making this happen.

Week 4: Flat and shaky
Final 6 days of your cycle
You can expect more of the same kind of mildly monotone voice you experienced in Week 3. On top of that, due to a sharp plunge in estrogen all throughout your premenstrual Week 4, may find it difficult to reach high notes when singing and your voice may sound a bit shaky, according to a 2001 study in the Journal of Voice.

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My Hormonology