Odd Ways Your Menstrual Cycle Changes You

Published on 03/13/21

Most women know when their period is on its way. Not by physical changes – although those happen commonly – but by subtle changes in their behavior. Sometimes it feels like it’s all in our heads! Sometimes we feel a little crazy! And even though it doesn’t feel normal, it totally is. 

I hope you’re excited to note, there is actual scientific backing for this now! It is a widespread belief in the scientific community that your menstrual cycle can and will influence your behavior. Ever felt moody? Irritable? Sad? And had no idea what triggered it, or made you a little extra sensitive? Well, it’s been proven that your period has a biological basis that is linked to hormone fluctuations in your body. Also known as PMS, or premenstrual syndrome

PMS is now widely known as a condition. A condition that is not entirely understood, mostly, why the menstrual cycle affects our behavior. What we do know is that hormones affect a woman’s mood. Even for an entire month. Not always just right before or after her period. And at times, these side effects aren’t even negative. Either way, there are strategies that can help you deal with any of the symptoms you experience. 

Hormone Level Changes

Our hormones go through a variation of changes during our menstrual cycle. This can occur before and after or even during parts of the month. With these fluctuations, it’s believed you might notice a change in your mood or even physical health. 

Here are some additional phases during your cycle that can affect your well-being:

Follicular Phase

This is considered the happiest part of the cycle phases. This normally starts at the beginning of your period and can last for about two weeks after. This is when the hormone estradiol starts to increase. Most women feel energetic and happier during the follicular phase than most other phases of the menstrual cycle.

Ovulatory Phase

This is when the luteinizing hormone starts to induce ovulation. Some studies have proven this also increases the increase in sex drive in women. And a higher pain tolerance. As well as more attractive overall. 

Luteal Phase

During this phase, the progesterone hormone increase makes women feel moodier and sometimes more stressed. This starts to happen right before your period. 

Other Health Issues

Of course, if the general mental, physical, and emotional changes you feel throughout the month are not enough. Existing health conditions can also be affected by your menstrual cycle’s fluctuating hormones. 

Some of these issues may include:

  • Depression: PMS can make depression symptoms worse. Additionally, women with a history of depression are more likely to experience PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS.
  • Anemia: If you have heavy bleeding during your period, you may develop iron-deficiency anemia. Those who are already anemic may become pale, tired, or weak due to period-related blood loss.
  • Asthma: Your asthma symptoms may worsen during certain phases of their cycle.

How to Manage Your Fluctuations

There are a couple of ways to help deal with unpleasant feelings, specifically, during the luteal phase. Like most things, center on maintaining healthy choices and a healthy lifestyle. Here are a couple of ways to help deal with pesky PMS symptoms and other hormone induced fluctuations:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Get energy from nutritious foods like vegetables, unprocessed proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. Avoid excess salt to reduce bloating.
  • Drink plenty of water. More fluids will help to reduce bloating and keep you hydrated when you’re lacking energy.
  • Avoid alcohol and reduce caffeine intake. Acting as a depressant, alcohol can worsen your mood and impair cognitive function. Caffeine can increase anxiety so try to cut back on it when experiencing PMS.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising produces endorphins while helping boost your mood and giving you more energy.
  • Get enough sleep. When you’re more rested, you’ll have fewer problems with fatigue, clumsiness, concentration, and memory.

Some of the most common side effects of PMS are cramps and bloating. We all know those,

Some women can go through their month with no problems at all. But many have to deal with irritable body changes that they weren’t expecting. Or don’t always attribute to their menstrual cycle. 

You have permission to blame it on the myriad of hormones flowing about freely. We are at the mercy of our bodies. Our moods, sleep pattern, skin conditions, bathroom habits, shopping habits, etc. 

And as much as this is normal for most women, there are varying degrees that are not. If you’re experiencing mild bloating and cramps. That’s normal! If you’re in bed for days with migraine, or debilitating nausea or getting angry every month during your cycle. That’s not totally normal!

If that sounds familiar, call your doctor. Decide if there are any underlying conditions and if there are over-the-counter medications that can be prescribed to help regulate these inconvenient hormonal swings. 

Have you ever noticed…?

Bad Moods – Mood Swings

During the menstrual cycle where progesterone levels were high and estrogen levels were low, studies show that women would be less susceptible to seizures and anxiety. When progesterone levels are low, the dramatic reduction of the brain causes an increase in the risk of seizures and anxiety. 

Waterworks, Inside and Out

Bloated? Water retention is the culprit! Not only does it affect how you bloat but also can affect coordination, blood pressure, and overall weight. To help get through this, drink a lot of water and maintain a healthy salt intake throughout the month. 

Once the water dissipates, everything will return back to normal. 

A Hard Time Breathing?

You find yourself out of breath every month? You may have something called premenstrual asthma. Shortness of breath can become increasingly sensitive right before you get your period. Which tend to cease around the time you start to ovulate. 

A Higher or Lower Voice?

You may never notice this, but hormonal fluctuations can affect the pitch and intensity of your voice. After your period, your vocal pitch may drop and continue to lower past your ovulation phase.

Habits

Studies show that women who want to quit bad habits are more determined and successful during the end of their menstrual cycle. Wait till after ovulation and plan accordingly. 

Believe it or not, racking up credit card debit can also be linked to your cycle. When it comes to impulse control, you may lose it! Especially in the first phase of your cycle. When women are on their period, they tend to shop more impulsively and spend more than other phases. It’s also been documented that right before ovulation, women tend to spend more on stuff that is designed to enhance our appearance. 

Feeling Hot?

During a woman’s ovulatory phase, a substance called luteinizing hormone increases.

This hormone starts the release of an egg from the ovaries. The ovaries then to the fallopian tubes for fertilization. During this phase, the hormone estradiol starts in significant quantities and with interaction with other hormones can really increase a woman’s sex drive. 

Estradiol also makes insulin more effective. Insulin also tells the body to release more testosterone which regulates sex drive. This is thoguht to be the body’s natural way to encourage women to have sex because they are most fertile at this time. 

Scatterbrained

Ever felt scatterbrained, felt like you couldn’t multitask, or regularly spaced out more than usual? This is normal! Right up until you start your period. Mid-cycle ovulation causes lower serotonin levels and can definitely affect your ability to concentrate. Some people can’t function at all.

Fluctuations in hormones may alter the chemical balance in the brain. This can also induce mood swings women find themselves in during their monthly menstrual. 

These changes can also cause a woman to be more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and even seizures 

Some studies may offer a new molecular scientific basis for why some women experience more severe depression and anxiety leading up to their period. 

Am I Crazy?

PMS hormones can cause us to over-obsess over our self image. It’s hard to remember this is only a side effect and not permanent. But, if this becomes an issue, talk to your doctor. 

Bathroom Habits

Because your progesterone levels combine with chemicals similar to hormones called prostaglandins which signal your uterus to contract and cramp. You may get diarrhea spells and more gas than you’re used to. These hormones and chemicals like prostaglandins send a similar signal to the intestines which are the reason for more frequent bathroom trips during your period. 

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or GI tract conditions, these symptoms may happen even more frequently. 

Urinary Tract Infection

When estrogen drops, this can mimic symptoms of yeast infections and urinary tract infections with itching and vaginal dryness. 

If you experience this every month, what you’re feeling is probably the changes in your vaginal pH. If it is accompanied with discomfort or odor, talk to your doctor. 

Have Questions About Your Menstrual Cycle PMS? Call Rosh MFM in NYC

You can count on the extensive experience of the doctors at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine to identify the cause and effectively treat extreme PMS symptoms that change you during your menstrual cycle. If you have any questions about your menstrual periods, call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or schedule an appointment online.