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 energy level, mood, libido, how chatty you are, how extroverted you feel, how much money you want to spend, the foods you crave, and virtually every other part of your day. Because these hormones follow the same pattern every month, you can actually predict 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:
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. While the amount of testosterone produced is relatively level all cycle long with a slight increase during the middle of your cycle during ovulation, the amount of testosterone your body uses actually depends on your estrogen level. The more estrogen you have, the more effects of testosterone you will feel. So, if you’re in a high estrogen week, you will feel more effects of testosterone. If you’re in a low estrogen week, you will feel fewer effects of testosterone. For the sake of simplicity, in the Hormone Horoscopes and Hormonology Tips, I pair estrogen and testosterone–for instance, I’ll say, “In Week 2 when estrogen and testosterone are high” or “In Week 4 when estrogen and testosterone are low”.
How testosterone affects you: Testosterone impacts brain skills, impulsiveness, libido, energy, desire for adventure, competitiveness and courage.
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.
Your cycle may be the average 28 days, or it could be shorter, longer or vary from month to month, but hormones will still follow the same general pattern. Now here’s a brief summary of how your hormones affect your emotions, energy, impulsiveness, libido and more each week of your cycle:
First day of period to Day 7
Your Hormone Horoscope: Estrogen and testosterone start at rock bottom and begin a steady climb. Once you get past the achy, fatiguing part of your period, these hormones will be boosting your pep, mood, optimism and brain skills. Estrogen makes you chattier and pushes you to connect with others. It also has a slight appetite-suppressing effect, which makes it a bit easier to eat smaller portions and healthier foods. Meanwhile, testosterone is amping up your libido, confidence and comfort with taking risks. It’s also making you more impulsive so you’re more likely to buy items or make decisions on the spur of the moment.
Day 8 to Day 14 (or ovulation)
Your Hormone Horoscope: Estrogen and testosterone rise till they peak this week, amping up all the effects you experienced during Week 1. You’ll find yourself laughing more easily, dragging your partner into bed, accepting every party invitation offered and letting out your inner wild child. You’re feeling more confident about your appearance and estrogen is, in fact, making you more attractive by making your skin tone more even and and making facial features slightly more symmetrical. High estrogen also has a pain-masking effect, which means Week 2 is the best time to schedule a dentist appointment or surgery, break in new shoes or do anything else that could be potentially painful. However, there is one downside to be aware of: high estrogen makes you more prone to stressing out over issues big and small.
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 evaporate into thin air and is triggering cravings for ooey gooey comfort foods rich in sugar, fat and salt. If you’re sensitive to progesterone, you may find you 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 including a lot of “um”s and “ah”s as you talk.
Day 23 to the end of cycle
Your Hormone Horoscope: During this premenstrual week, estrogen, testosterone 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 PMS and symptoms can be milder or more severe from month to month, often due to diet, stress 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 eat your favorite ice cream, take a bubble bath, watch a much-loved movie, head to the mall or do anything else you enjoy, it helps temporarily boosts these happiness-triggering brain chemicals back up, helping you feel calm and upbeat.
YOUR FREE DAILY HORMONE HOROSCOPE: To find out about the many more ways your hormones will be affecting you every day, come back every weekday to read your daily Hormone Horoscope.
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!