By Lisa Gill, Founder, TOSSIBLES
“By understanding menstrual patterns, we can empower ourselves to navigate the waves of our menstrual journey with greater self-awareness and compassion, fostering a holistic approach to mental health.”
The complexity of hormones within a woman's body orchestrates the remarkable journey of the menstrual cycle. While this cycle is often associated with physical changes, its influence extends far beyond the physical realm. In this article, we will delve into the connection between the menstrual cycle and mental well-being, shedding light on how hormonal shifts can impact mood and mental health.
Before we explore the connection, let's briefly understand the menstrual cycle. It's a monthly process involving hormonal changes that prepare the body for pregnancy.
The cycle consists of four phases:
- the follicular phase
- the luteal phase and
The relationship between hormonal fluctuations and mood is complex, with each phase of the menstrual cycle potentially affecting emotions differently.
During the Follicular Phase (days 1-14) estrogen levels rise and there is an increase in serotonin production. Serotonin, often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter, plays a key role in mood regulation. As estrogen levels climb, many women experience improved mood, energy, and a sense of well-being.
The Ovulation Phase (around day 14) is when estrogen peaks and so does confidence and sociability for many women. This is when women may feel their most energetic and outgoing.
The 3rd phase, the Luteal Phase (days 15-28) is when estrogen levels decline after ovulation, and progesterone takes the spotlight. Progesterone can have a calming effect but may also contribute to mood changes. Many women experience premenstrual symptoms (PMS) during this phase, including mood swings, irritability, and anxiety.
Lastly, menstruation occurs. This is when estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Some women might experience a dip in mood, leading to feelings of sadness or irritability.
While these general patterns exist, every woman's experience is unique. Some may go through their menstrual cycle with minimal mood fluctuations, while others might face more intense emotional shifts. By understanding menstrual patterns, we can empower ourselves to navigate the waves of our menstrual journey with greater self-awareness and compassion, fostering a holistic approach to mental health.