Now that you’ve been reading about Hormonology and checking your daily Hormone Horoscope, you’ve learned about how your hormones affect you each week of your cycle (and if you’re new to Hormonology, you can get a quick overview here).
However, a lot of you have been writing to me asking how you can explain what each week of your cycle is like to the men in your life–whether it’s partners, friends, roommates, co-workers, brothers, sons, fathers, etc.–in terms they can comprehend.
I totally understand the need for a bit of boy translation. After all, I admit I know nothing about fantasy football (or real football for that matter) and no amount of my husband explaining it to me has helped clarify things. And I certainly won’t ever get a straight man’s fascination with breasts. To me, they’re simply body appendages like elbows–only mushier.
Anywho, I’m going to take a crack at helping you explain how each week of your cycle works to the guys in your life so they can understand them more clearly:
Your Week 1 starts off with your period. And this is a terrifyingly scary time for many guys. That’s because all they’ve heard about menstruation on TV and in the movies is that the moment you start to bleed, you morph into a raging lunatic with no control over your emotions. You’re ready to flatten cities and torch historic monuments with the fire you’re breathing out of your mouth.
Obviously, you know this is a myth. And the research shows that as your estrogen rises in your period week, your mood actually improves. Any crankiness you experience is typically a result of menstrual cramps and/or period-related fatigue that can put anyone off their game. But, it’s nothing that a helpful menstrual-cramp buster or little caffeine can’t fix.
So, keep in mind that when explaining this week to a man, you’ll be breaking a long-held belief about periods, which can confuse and befuddle him–kind of like the third time fantasy football was explained to me–making patience key here.
Okay, now here’s what to say when explaining your Week 1 to a man:
While Week 1 of my cycle starts with my period, I will not be morphing into a fire-breathing monster. Repeat, no monster-morphing. I might, however, start out with a bit of painful cramps. (Remember the time you smashed your thumb in the car door? Yeah, imagine that kind of pain going on for hours.) And I can get a bit tired. (Like the time you played Grand Theft Auto for 2 days straight without a break.)
But, besides that, as the days go on I’ll actually be feeling a bit happier, more optimistic and more energetic compared to last week. And that’s all thanks to rising estrogen, which is like adding high-octane gas to my fuel tank. Yep, the good stuff.
During your Week 2, your estrogen continues to rise till it peaks and your testosterone gets a slight bump at the end of this week, too. The result is a happier, more confident, chattier you. You’re also going to want to try anything new, daring and fun. Oh, and your libido is off the charts.
To many male mates, the dramatic rise in libido is the only change they notice about you. Oh, and that you’re way, way, waaaaay more talkative. When you think about it, it’s funny that hormones make us want to talk a guy’s ear off (which is not exactly a favorite activity for most of them) while at the same time making us also want to rip off his clothes. It’s like a weird joke from Mother Nature who thought it would be a hoot to make men suffer through endless chit-chat that they’re forced to patiently nod to in order for a shot at making it to the bedroom.
To explain your Week 2 to a man, try this:
During my Week 2, my high hormones have me at my very best: I’m happier, more energetic, optimistic, sharp, witty, confident and daring. Kind of like you were that miraculous day your team won the Superbowl and you found one last crunchy Cheetos in the bottom of the bag when you thought it was empty.
Now I’m not going to be this way 100% of the time, mind you. You’ll still tick me off if you, say, put the empty milk carton back in the fridge or eat the last cookie. (By the way, never eat the last cookie.) But, these good feelings will definitely be a general trend.
I am prone to being more impulsive and doing way more daring stuff than I normally do. But, hey, we’ve all been there, right? How else would you explain doing a beer bong upside down in that picture I found of you? I’m just giving you a heads-up when you wonder why I’m suddenly singing karaoke–loudly–to the music playing over the PA in the middle of the frozen foods aisle in the supermarket or am taking your go-kart out for a joy ride. Just roll with it and move on.
Here’s an addition for women with male partners:
This is the week of my cycle when peaking estrogen and testosterone are making my libido soar and climaxes easier to reach and more intense. As a guy, you might experience all this on a daily, perhaps even hourly, basis. Especially after a Baywatch rerun. But, for me, this heightened state of pleasure comes around for one week out of the month. And it’s worth waiting for.
This does not mean I’m going to want to have sex 24/7 without a break. I still need to do work, take a shower and walk the dog. But, if you play your cards right–say, by listening intently to all my work stories or my latest theories on the Universe–then we might be able to set some new records.
During Week 3 of your cycle, there’s a big, big, big shift. Did I mention it’s big?
That’s because a drop in estrogen and rise in progesterone brings down your mood, makes you quieter, saps your energy and puts a huge damper on your recently-raging libido.
You’re also hungrier, have more cravings for high-calorie foods, are less adventurous and more concerned about safety and conserving cash. You’re less likely to travel far and prefer the comfort and security of places and people you know well.
For women in relationships with men, even though your sex drive is waning, progesterone makes you feel more emotionally connected to your guy, which makes you want to cuddle, hug, hold hands and be affectionate in other ways that don’t necessarily lead to hitting the sheets.
So, here’s how to explain your Week 3 to a man:
Hey, so you know how when it’s the last day of vacation and you dread going home because it means no more mai tais on the beach, dirty dancing with strangers till dawn and passing off a bathing suit as evening wear? Well, when it comes to my cycle, the vacation’s over–and I’m homeward-bound.
A dip in estrogen and rise in progesterone are suddenly making me a bit more sedate and level-headed. They’re also sapping my energy, making me less impulsive and more worried about money. It’s kind of like that time you got your first speeding ticket–and had to give up your dream of finally seeing Rush in concert to pay it.
But, cheer up, it’s not all bad! I’m also craving some seriously gross junk food–and I’m willing to share! And because I’d rather be close to home than travel to far and exotic places, I’m totally up for going to the movies or binge-watching one of our favorite TV shows at home. Which means you don’t have to dress up, put on a tie or pretend to like all the new people I’m introducing you to.
For women with male partners:
Another bonus to my Week 3: While my libido may be in a slump (I know that’s hard for you to imagine, but pretend you just read an article about adult circumcision or someone mentioned the word “catheter” and you’ll get it), I’m feeling way closer to you, which means more hugs and cuddles. Okay, maybe that’s more of a bonus for me. But, hey, I’m a lot quieter now, so you won’t have to listen to me talk non-stop as I snuggle into you! And, did I mention that bit about me craving junk food–and being willing to share?
This is your premenstrual week–the final six days of your cycle before your period arrives. And things can really take a turn here as estrogen plunges, dragging down levels feel-good brain chemicals, leaving you more prone to irritability, moodiness, aches, anxiety and the blues.
Now, unless you’ve got premenstrual dysphoric disorder–a severe form or premenstrual syndrome–chances are, these premenstrual symptoms aren’t going to be a constant in your life. More likely, they’re just going to pop up here and there.
How and when they pop up, though, is anyone’s guess–and can really keep guys on their toes.
Lucky for you, there are ways to lessen pre-period woes, such as eating regularly (which keeps your blood sugar level and prevents the hunger crankies), doing relaxing activities (which lowers your risk of a plunging estrogen stress-out) and treating yourself well (which helps bring flagging levels of feel-good brain chemicals back up).
How to explain your premenstrual Week 4 to a man:
Remember that time you quit smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee cold turkey–even though everyone begged you to taper off slowly? And as your body went through this sudden withdrawal, you were irritable, moody, achy, anxious and depressed–and you wondered what you did to deserve a fate more disastrous than the cancellation of MTV Cribs?
Well, my hormones are just as addictive as those cigarettes and coffee. And right now my body is making a lot less–so I’m going through a bit of withdrawal that can affect my mood and intensify discomfort at times.
Now, this doesn’t mean I’m not as capable of doing stuff on these days. It just means that if I get hungry or stressed, I won’t be politely sugar-coating my feelings the way I do during other weeks of my cycle. (And, yes, that was sugar-coating in those other weeks, so you’re welcome.) So, please save anything stupid you want to say to me for Week 1.
What’s more, you can help me enjoy a happier, calmer, more peaceful premenstrual week. All it takes is making sure I have lots of yummy food around (here, I made you a premenstrual shopping list), help me find time for relaxing activities (fyi: for your convenience, I added my favorite bubble bath to the shopping list) and treat me like a queen (or at least give me total control over the remote).
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