The hormones circulating through the female body affect our emotions, and these hormones spend the month ebbing and flowing like a crazy roller coaster. The bad news is that this happens no matter what, but good news is that once you are able to become more aware of how these hormones affect your emotions and mental health, the more you will be able to anticipate what emotions may arise next.
Progesterone and estrogen are the two hormones that rule the female cycle, and the rise in progesterone we experience leading up to menstruation tends to bring on depressive feelings, while the rise in estrogen after menstruation actually makes us happier.
Though the idea of progesterone and estrogen fluctuating in the body may sound pretty simple, it may not feel as easy to grasp when you feel like you are experiencing the emotional whiplash that comes with the change in these hormones.
So here is a guide to help you understand why you may be feeling the way you do depending on where you are in your cycle.
At this point in your cycle, there are relatively low levels of both progesterone and estrogen circulating throughout your body. Remember, a rise in progesterone tends to lead to an increase in depressed and anxious feelings, while a rise in estrogen tends to have an anti-depressant effect. So with low levels of both hormones circulating throughout the body it's natural to feel like you are floating through an emotional black hole. You may be feeling moodier or sadder the first few days or your cycle, but this should subside as you near the end of your menstrual cycle.
As your period comes to an end, estrogen levels slowly begin to rise. Estrogen acts as a feel good hormone, but also apart from its antidepressant effects, estrogen also improves memory functioning. So if your mind was feeling a bit cloudy last week, take a moment to notice if you feel more upbeat and clear headed this week. Your ability to focus should also improve, and you most likely won’t be able to recognize the person you were the past two weeks due to the emotions that come along with PMS and menstruation.
Ovulation is a time of celebration, or so says the female body and hormonal cycle. During ovulation estrogen levels peak, and our overall well being and emotional health reaches their peak. This rise in estrogen makes us feel our happiest, as the natural antidepressant surges and circulates throughout the body. And when we feel our happiest, we feel more attractive and it shows. A study found that when female lap dancers were ovulating they actually earned higher tips. The same study found that ovulating women are more likely to attend social gatherings and tend to have more energy.
In this phase, estrogen takes a quick dip, leaving us out all alone to combat the emotions that come as progesterone rises in the body. Now it is important to note that progesterone is not a bad guy, in fact, without it pregnancy and the entire female cycle would not be possible. However, rising progesterone is no walk in the park—the sharp hormonal increase brings on anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings. All of these emotions understandably decrease our ability to focus. So try to slow down this week and practice some self-care, and just remember it’s not you, it’s the progesterone.