04 May Hormonology Guide to your energy each week of your cycle
BY GABRIELLE LICHTERMAN
- Want to be able to predict when your energy will be high or low? All it takes is knowing which day you’re on in your menstrual cycle.
UPDATED MAY 4, 2022 (originally published May 7, 2015)—Wish you knew ahead of time which days you’d wake up brimming with energy so you could fill up your to-do list, plan a more intense workout or schedule a project that requires lots of physical oomph, like moving?
Or wish you knew ahead of time which days you’d be low on pep so you could avoid cramming too much into your calendar and skip fatiguing activities or people that drain the little juice you have left?
Great news: If you’ve got a healthy, natural (no hormone birth control) menstrual cycle, you can predict which cycle days you’ll be filled with zip and which cycle days you’ll be petering out.
That’s because the ups and downs of three key hormones in your cycle–estrogen, testosterone and progesterone–impact energy levels.
Once you know what kind of energy you can expect, you can plan your day, week or month better by syncing up high-intensity activities with high-pep days and low-intensity activities with low-pep days.
And when you can’t sync up your activities with your monthly cycle, you can anticipate the hormonal hurdles affecting your energy and compensate for them. For example, you can perk yourself up with a midday nap or caffeinated beverage.
Or, you can simply have peace of mind knowing that when your energy is flying off the charts or you’re more tired than a sloth after a big lunch, it’s just your hormones.
Okay, ready to find out all about your energy? Here’s what you can expect from your pep each week of your cycle:
Week 1: Slow lift-off, buzzy finish
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
There’s no doubt about it–for many women, the first few days of your period can be a real drag on your energy level. That’s because you’ve got a few things against you: Though estrogen is climbing, it starts off super-low; iron loss during menstruation can put you in a stupor; and, if you get menstrual cramps, they deal the final blow to your pep.
However, within a few days (maybe even sooner), you’ll notice your energy start to take off as estrogen slowly rises.
You’ll feel this zippy effect even faster if you take an iron supplement and/or eat iron-rich foods to make up for the iron loss and if you quiet menstrual cramps with your favorite menstrual cramp remedy.
By the end of your Week 1, you’ll likely be feeling a full surge in estrogen-fueled energy.
And, if you’re sensitive to rising estrogen, you may actually feel a bit too buzzy–perhaps, experience a bit of jitteriness or an on-edge feeling. If that’s the case with you, steer clear of stimulants, like caffeine and nicotine. If you need to take the edge off, try low- to moderate-intensity exercise, sipping chamomile tea, meditating and/or yoga, which all help usher in soothing calm.
Week 2: High-flying
Day 8 to ovulation (which is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)
This is the week of your cycle when physical and mental energy peak. Credit goes high estrogen, which rises throughout this phase, and a short spike in testosterone that occurs during ovulation.
While this sounds awesome, it’s more of a good news/bad news situation.
The good news: You can speed through tasks faster, tackle mentally or physically challenging project with more ease, stay up late and get up early (or pull an all-nighter) and generally push the limits of whatever you want to do.
The bad news: This soaring mental energy can make you way more easily distracted. As a result, it may be difficult to focus all your high energy on one project and see it through to the finish without starting another one and another one and another one…without fully completing any. So, your challenge is to rein in your brain and use tools to keep you on task. For example, you can write reminders on sticky notes and post them in places you’ll see them, like your coffee mug. Or you can set alarms on your phone or computer to ensure you reach certain points of a project by specific times.
Do you rarely if ever experience a surge in pep during your Week 2? This is a sign that there’s a health issue that needs to be addressed. Just some example include an overwhelming amount of stress, a vitamin or mineral deficiency or a thyroid condition. If you and your healthcare provider can pinpoint the cause–and find a fix–you can enjoy this high-energy phase, too.
Is nothing wrong with your health, stress is low and you still don’t experience a Week 2 spike in energy? Then, you could be a “hormonally opposite” woman.
Week 3: Screeching halt
Starts day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (that’s Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
Grab your hanky and wave bye-bye to all that soaring energy you enjoyed in the first half of your cycle. A sudden–and steep–dip in estrogen coupled by a rise in sedating progesterone is slamming the brakes on your pep.
Depending on your sensitivity to this hormonal combination, you could feel a tad sluggish and foggy or you could feel so sapped, you’re thisclose to a nap all day long.
Chances are, you’ll poop out way sooner than you did in your Week 2, so don’t plan too many late nights unless you also intend to ingest copious amounts of caffeine or take pre-emptive naps in the middle of the day (which may not even help keep your eyes open past 10 pm).
If you’re doing a high-intensity activity that requires more mental or physical oomph than you have, try going for a brisk walk, eating a bit of dark chocolate, sipping a caffeinated beverage or drinking fruit juice All are study-proven ways to clear the cobwebs and up energy.
Week 4: A less foggy finish
Final 6 days of your cycle
Your premenstrual week is so often maligned. Well, here is one really good reason to look forward to it: Your body’s level of progesterone dips this week of your cycle–and this means you’re less foggy and tired than you were in Week 3 of your cycle.
Oh, you’re not hopping over shopping carts in a single bound or entering sailor knot competitions just yet. Estrogen is also on the downswing, which keeps your energy at low levels.
However, freed from the tiring shackles of progesterone, you may feel like you can get more accomplished and feel a bit more clear-headed.
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Want to be able to predict when your energy will be high or low? All it takes is knowing which day you’re on in your menstrual cycle. Learn more: MyHormonology.com/whats-your-energy-like-week-to-week-in-your-cycle.
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