Female Hormone Cycle

You can predict your day based on your hormone cycle—and it’s easy! Here’s why: Three key hormones that rise and fall each month of your cycle—estrogen, testosterone and progesterone—affect your mood, energy level, romantic life, chattiness, extroversion, shopping habits, cravings and virtually every other part of your day. Because these hormones follow the same pattern month after month, you can predict with scientific accuracy what these effects will be every day of your cycle.

Here a simple snapshot of what your hormones are doing all month long from your teens until peri-menopause:

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Estrogen: This hormone rises throughout Week 1 and Week 2 of your cycle. It then falls sharply in the first half of Week 3, then rises again for the second half of Week 3. Once your premenstrual Week 4 arrives, this hormone falls again all week long until it reaches its lowest level at the end of your cycle.
How estrogen affects you: Estrogen impacts your mood, optimism, brain skills, chattiness, energy, appetite, extroversion, stress, desire to find a mate and pain threshold.

Testosterone: This hormone that’s traditionally associated with men is also produced in a woman’s body–although in much smaller amounts. The amount of testosterone produced in your body is about the same all cycle long with a slight increase during the middle of your cycle during ovulation. However, in general, the amount of testosterone your body uses depends on your estrogen level. Typically, the higher your estrogen level, the more effects of testosterone you will feel. So, if you’re in high estrogen Week 2, you’ll be more impulsive, daring and in the mood for romance because high estrogen is enhancing testosterone’s effects. But, that’s not the whole story with testosterone: This hormone gets a little complex: For instance, research shows that in Week 1 when estrogen is low, it allows testosterone to shine through and enhance your spatial skills since this hormone directly impacts that specific ability. And in your premenstrual Week 4, you can be bothered by unwanted lip and chin hair because your estrogen level is too low to blunt testosterone’s effects on facial hair growth.
How testosterone affects you: Testosterone impacts certain brain skills, impulsiveness, libido, energy, desire for adventure, competitiveness, courage and facial hair growth.

Progesterone: This hormone typically associated with pregnancy rises in Week 3 of your cycle, then falls throughout Week 4.
How progesterone affects you: Progesterone impacts your appetite, cravings, desire to “nest” (meaning to make your home more comfortable) and desire for safety. It also makes you sleepy and can make you forgetful and less eloquent as you speak.


Hormonal effects you can expect each week of your cycle

hormonecyclelogo1Your cycle may be the average 28 days, or it could be shorter, longer or vary from month to month, but the hormonal ups-and-downs–and how these hormonal changes affect you–still follow the same general pattern. Here’s a brief week-by-week summary of how your hormones affect your emotions, energy, impulsiveness, libido and more each week of your cycle:

Week 1
First day of period to Day 7
Your Hormone Horoscope:
Estrogen starts out at rock-bottom and begins a steady climb. Once you get past the achy, fatiguing part of your period, estrogen will be boosting your pep, mood, optimism and brain skills. This hormone makes you chattier and pushes you to connect with others both socially and romantically. It also has a slight appetite-suppressing effect, which makes it a bit easier to eat smaller portions and opt for healthier foods. In general, you’ll find that as your estrogen rises, you get a bit more curious about the world around you, want to have fun, enjoy shopping for items even if you don’t need them and prefer to be out of the house and among other people.

Week 2
Day 8 to Day 14 (or ovulation)
Your Hormone Horoscope: Estrogen continues to rise throughout your Week 2, amping up all the positive effects you experienced during Week 1, so you’re likely to be more upbeat, optimistic, chattier and confident, plus have a sharper memory, think faster on your feet and be pondering romance far more frequently. The high level of this hormone is also making you more self-assured about your appearance. And, in fact, estrogen is actually making you more attractive by prompting subtle changes to your facial features that make them slightly more symmetrical. High estrogen triggers a higher output of pain-masking endorphins in the brain, which means normally painful activities–like a dentist appointment or breaking in new shoes–will hurt less this week than during other weeks of your cycle. However, there is one downside to be aware of in your Week 2: High estrogen can amp up anxiety, making you prone to stressing out over issues big and small. By the latter part of this week, testosterone also rises, and this hormone makes you more impulsive, daring and competitive. It’s also prompting a sharp spike in your libido and makes your orgasms more intense and easier to achieve.

Week 3
Day 15 (or the day after ovulation) to Day 22
Your Hormone Horoscope: The first half of Week 3 is what I call your “pre-PMS” phase. The symptoms are like a less intense version of PMS—they may include irritability, fatigue and a down mood. Like PMS, pre-PMS is caused by plunging estrogen. Luckily, by the second half of Week 3, pre-PMS disappears as estrogen rises, which levels out your mood. All throughout Week 3, rising progesterone has you feeling sleepy, quiet, less interested in socializing and more cautious. It’s also causing your libido to rapidly decline and is triggering cravings for ooey gooey comfort foods rich in sugar, fat and salt. If you’re sensitive to progesterone, you may feel a bit blue. Progesterone may make you feel a tad forgetful and can make it more difficult to speak eloquently, so you may not recall the exact word you want to say or you may end up adding in a bunch of “um”s and “ah”s as you talk.

Week 4
Day 23 to the end of cycle
Your Hormone Horoscope: During this premenstrual week, estrogen and progesterone plunge, which can trigger moodiness, the blues, aches, insomnia, headaches and a wide variety of other PMS-related symptoms. Not every woman suffers from premenstrual syndrome and symptoms can be milder or more severe from month to month, often due to diet, stress, medications, exercise habits or your body’s personal sensitivity to hormones. But, it’s not all bad news. In fact, this week your libido returns, though technically that’s not due to hormones. Researchers believe it’s because nerve endings down below get stimulated as your body prepares for menstruation. Also good to hear: This week, treating yourself to your favorite indulgences is actually medicinal! Why? As estrogen plunges, it depletes your brain of mood-boosting chemicals, leading to irritability and negativity. But, when you take a bubble bath, watch a much-loved movie, go for a walk or do anything else you enjoy, it helps temporarily boosts these happiness-triggering brain chemicals back up, making you calmer and more upbeat.

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MEN HAVE A HORMONE HOROSCOPE, TOO!
Now that you’ve learned about women’s hormones, find out how a man’s 24-hour hormone cycle affects his moods, energy and more here.

 

 

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