09 Nov What’s your mood like from week to week in your cycle?
- The ups-and-downs of hormones in your menstrual cycle have a profound impact on your mood. This week-by-week guide shows you when you’ll be upbeat, downbeat and somewhere in-between.
UPDATED NOVEMBER 9, 2021 (originally published August 24, 2015)—Ever wonder why some days you feel optimistic, hopeful, even downright giddy? Yet, other days nothing can put a smile on your face?
A key reason could be your hormones.
Your mood, outlook and confidence are impacted by the ups-and-downs of hormones throughout your menstrual cycle.
That’s because rising and falling estrogen and progesterone trigger changes in levels of brain chemicals that impact emotion.
Curious how your mood changes throughout your menstrual cycle? Check out the Hormonology Guide below that shows you how hormones impact your emotions from week to week. You’ll also find easy tips to help you make every phase of your cycle happier.
One important note: Keep in mind that even though hormones can have a profound impact on your mood, they are still only one factor that affect emotions. There are many other factors that impact how you feel, such hunger, stress, medications, how well or poorly you sleep, illness, pain, starting a new job, falling in love, suffering heartache and so on.
But, knowing how your hormones influence you is still important since it can give you insight into yourself and help you plan your day, week and month ahead.
Read on to find out more about your….
Week 1: Slow start to an upward climb
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
Estrogen starts off at its lowest point at the onset of your period, then slowly rises throughout your Week 1. Depending on your sensitivity to this rising hormone, you could feel your mood, outlook, confidence and optimism rise just a few hours after menstruation begins or it could take a couple of days for this hormone-fueled brightness to kick in. No matter what your sensitivity, most women tend to notice a distinct surge in good feelings by the middle of their Week 1–around Day 4.
The reason estrogen can have such a positive impact on your mood is because it helps the brain produce feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. And the higher your estrogen level rises, the more mood-lifting chemicals your brain churns out.
Make this week better: Not feeling the upward climb in emotions during your Week 1? You may be low in iron, which is a common issue when you menstruate since you lose iron as you bleed. When your body’s level of iron dips, it can cause sadness, irritability, fogginess and/or fatigue. If this is your issue, you can help your mood improve more quickly in your Week 1 by eating iron-rich foods (such as beans, lean meat, spinach and tofu) or taking an iron supplement (15 mg. for women ages 14 to 18; 18 mg. for women ages 19 to 50) all cycle long to keep iron from dropping too low during your period. (Note: Talk with your doctor before supplementing and avoid if you have an iron metabolizing condition, such as hemochromatosis.)
Week 2: Your joy peaks
Day 8 to ovulation (which is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)
For most women, Week 2 is the time when your inner happiness reaches its cycle-long peak. Credit goes to estrogen, which rises throughout this cycle phase, spurring the production of more mood-elevating brain chemicals.
While this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be grinning ear-to-ear, sprinkling fairy dust and drawing rainbows 24/7 while in your Week 2, it does mean that you’re more prone to feeling upbeat, confident and optimistic. And, you’re more likely to bounce back from annoying setbacks faster thanks to this hormone boosting your resilience and flexibility.
One caveat: If you’re sensitive to estrogen, you may find that the high level of this hormone puts you on edge or makes you anxious.
Make this week better: Think that because estrogen is already super-high in your Week 2, you can’t make good feelings even better? Not so! Thanks to this elevated hormone, whenever you do something you enjoy–such as hobbies, hanging out with friends or exercising–your brain delivers a greater surge of happiness-lifting chemicals than it would if you did the same fun stuff in other weeks of your cycle. This makes it a perfect time to schedule your favorite mood-boosting activities.
If you’re among the women who experience antsiness or anxiety from peaking estrogen, skip anxiety-worsening stimulants (such as caffeine) and turn to your favorite relaxation techniques (such as meditation, yoga or nature walks) to usher in calm.
Week 3: The tide turns
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (which is Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
During the first half of your Week 3, your level of estrogen drops sharply. As a result, the amount of mood-elevating brain chemicals drop with it, which has the potential to trigger a bit of the blues, frustration or anxiety.
At the same time that estrogen is plunging, progesterone rises–and this hormone continues to rise all throughout this cycle phase. Depending on your sensitivity to progesterone–which is a hormone with a sedating effect–you could feel mellow or possibly blue or weepy.
By the second half of your Week 3, estrogen rises again, taking off that edgy feeling you may have experienced as this hormone dropped in the first half. However, because sedating progesterone is rising along with estrogen, you won’t experience that super-elevated joy and confidence you felt in your Week 2. You’re more likely to experience something like a gentle calm.
Make this week better: Elevated progesterone makes many women more sensitive to dips in blood sugar between meals, which means if you get hungry, you could also experience sudden anger, frustration or sadness. So, it’s key to eat regular meals throughout the day–no meal-skipping or excessive calorie restriction. And you may want to keep nutritious snacks (such as low-fat granola bars or yogurt) nearby so you have something quick to munch if you notice your stomach start to growl to avoid a sudden mood-killing drop in blood sugar.
Week 4: A bumpy finish
Final six days of your cycle
It’s no secret that during your premenstrual week, things can take a downward turn. You could feel moody, irritable, sad, weepy, pessimistic and/or cynical. That’s because estrogen drops steadily throughout this final phase of your cycle, which can drag down levels of mood-managing brain chemicals with it.
Thing is, how frequently or intensely you experience negative emotions throughout this week can depend on many factors. These include your personal sensitivity to this hormone fluctuation, how much sleep you’ve gotten, how regularly you’ve been eating, how nutritious your diet is, how much stress you’re under, if you’re ill or in pain and if you’re on any medications–just to name a few.
And, just to keep you on your toes, your sensitivity to this dipping hormone can change from cycle to cycle due to one or more of these factors.
Generally speaking, the healthier your lifestyle (exercising regularly, eating good-for-you foods, getting seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, reining in stress, etc.) the better your premenstrual mood is.
I’ve reported on many other ways to reduce negative premenstrual moods in my Hormonology blog, which you can read here.
The good news is that bad moods are typically not a constant presence in your pre-period Week 4. They tend to just pop up here and there, interrupting an otherwise mellow day.
Make this week better: Your estrogen may cause mood-managing brain chemicals to rise and fall, but, hey, it’s not the only thing that impacts these key brain chemicals! You can counter plunging estrogen’s effects and rev positivity by temporarily boosting feel-good brain chemicals back up a variety of other ways, for instance, with exercise, doing your favorite hobbies and treating yourself to something special, such as taking a bubble bath. Make time to enjoy joy-lifting activities in your day and you’ll increase the likelihood of a happier premenstrual phase.
Important: If you get intense mood swings, uncontrollable anger, depression and/or anxiety that interferes with your life on your premenstrual days, you could have “premenstrual dysphoric disorder” (PMDD)–a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). If this sounds like you, talk to your healthcare provider about it because there are treatments for it. Learn more in my PMDD guide.
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Curious why your mood goes up, then down, then up again for no good reason? Could be your hormones! Learn more: MyHormonology.com/whats-your-mood-like-from-week-to-week-in-your-monthly-cycle-and-how-can-you-make-it-better
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