I look innocent, but looks are skin deep. One minute I’m motivated to go to the gym, by the time I’ve changed and done up my hair in the mirror, I want to cry at how ugly I feel. Outrageous! I have gotten plenty of sleep last night, and I feel like I can’t move my limbs because they’re so heavy. A whole week my body complains, then I get my period. Ugh! I hate life. Sound familiar? (And if you feel like this because you’re hungover, you’re on the wrong post!)
I’m sure you’re aware it’s just hormonal changes, but what about when you feel incredibly motivated and social some weeks, and intensely erotic others? It’s not completely random- its more randomly recurrent. I’m going to explain in this post the menstrual cycles FACTS, why periods affect your state of being, and some advantages to being a crazy woman like myself.
It’s no surprise that our species was born to reproduce. As women, our bodies are baby making machines. We are privileged to have menstrual cycles and victim to the utter joy they bring. To an extent, our hormones control us, and you’ll find out how throughout this post.
What Is A ‘Menstrual Cycle’?
It’s not a period, rather it’s the whole month of your hormones and reproductive system undergoing changes, to prepare for pregnancy. The cycle can be divided into four overlapping sections, Follicular, Luteal, Ovulation, Menstruation (Period). It won’t be scientific and confusing because either you NOR me are here for a science lesson! The two categorised phases the cycle can be equally divided, are the Follicular Phase and the Luteal Phase.
The cycle begins in the Follicular Phase on the first day of menstruation- your period, and ends on your next menstruation.
Yay, we just got our period! I’m not excited about it either. But we may feel a little better today than we did the previous week. Thanks to the hormone oestrogen! (More info in next paragraph). What the heck is follicular phase? Going by the common monthly timeline of 28 days, for 14 days our ovaries are developing the follicles that will grow into the eggs we shed. On the day of our period, all the hormones ‘reset’ readying for a new cycle.
A hormone called Gonadotropin (GnRH) secretes, signalling to the pituitary glands in the brain to release Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This is what kickstarts the growth of those baby follicles that increase our oestrogen levels as they upgrade, in preparation for fertilization.
A sex hormone, dominating women. It comes in three forms, each form serving its own purpose, but in general, it stimulates all the physical changes of puberty (breasts, armpit hair, menstrual cycle) and causes the uterine wall to thicken to support a baby. The effects of it supposedly makes you happy.
This phase separates Follicular Phase and Luteal Phase. On the 14th day, the largest mature follicles are so high in oestrogen that it signals the brain to dramatically increase Luteinising Hormone (LH). That hormone is what weakens the wall of the ovaries, allowing the egg to break through. It then travels down the fallopian tube and sits in the uterus.
After ovulation, the follicle around the egg develops into a thing called corpus luteum and starts producing progesterone (more info in next paragraph). They sit in the uterus awaiting their beloved sperm for a few days. The high level of progesterone may increase your sex drive, conveniently the time you’re most fertile for baby-making. But because it keeps rising, you get to experience the adverse effects, such as, headaches, large appetite, fatigue, depression, vertigo. *corpus luteum tips fedora* If todays not the day for baby-making, that corpus luteum will break down (and cry), and the progesterone and oestrogen will drop. This occurs towards the end of the phase. Then you get your period!
A sex hormone that increases growth of blood vessels and glands in the endometrium (uterus) that will supply nutrients to the baby, creating the ideal environment to support the fertilisation of an egg.
Summary of Hormones
When your period starts, you get hormone equilibrium (ahhh, balance) and you get to be a complete wreck about it for the week of your period as everything straightens out to start fluctuating again. For half your cycle, you’ll feel balanced and content, then as hormones shift to start their next phase, your energy and serotonin levels will skyrocket. Going into the next phase, you will feel extremely energised and horny, this is where your partner comes in 😊. Toward the end of your second phase you may experience PMS symptoms, aka, ‘life sucks’ syndrome- a term I just made up- as it all drops again.
I’m Still Emotional, Now What?
Use your hormones to your advantage. They can often be intrusive when you have a heavy schedule and are so fatigued you can barely function. Times like these, I’ve learnt you need to take it as it comes. For example, if you are athletic, don’t beat yourself up if you’re unable to train/ perform at the level you’d like. Take it easy, your body is undergoing natural stress.
How I deal With It
I really struggle emotionally during these times. I adjust my diet to incorporate more iron, protein and less carbs. Protein to combat the appetite and iron to replenish lost blood- it can make a huge difference especially when I suffer with fatigue. Eating carbs intensifies my already sensitive appetite, instead, I eat as deliciously and indulgent as I can in a healthier way. I never sacrifice good food (insert serious Sheldon Cooper face here.)
I will share a list of indulgent foods I eat on a healthy, mainly plant based diet in a future post. Let me know your favourite foods in the comments below!
Adjusting your schedule to fit in more quiet time, such as meditation or gentle yoga, can do justice for your overactive mind. Light some candle, play acoustics, settle down. Oh and, drink water!!
Being female can be annoying and frustrating, but it keeps life interesting. The best you can do is understand your body and be patient- it’s not an excuse to get out of doing hard things either! I’m not intending for any negative effect from this, quite the opposite, I’ll be onto you if you’re not trying your best. I’d love to hear your views and if what I ‘ve said has had a positive impact. And I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing it!
You can email me here, or simply comment below. Thank you for reading! I genuinely appreciate your time and wish you a blissful day.
This information is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition or illness, or dissuade you from seeking medical help. I don’t take responsibility for anything that occurs as a result of reading this.