Hormones & Cycles

Cycles and Your Psyche

There are days when you feel beautiful and confident, like the world is yours to explore. But let’s be honest, that isn’t everyone, everyday. We all have days where your bed and Netflix are the only goals, and you’re not trying to interact with anyone. Menstrual cycles have a lot to do with these emotional cycles, as hormones all influence mood and emotions differently. If you learn to understand your cycle, it can become a useful tool for emotional regulation.

A Hormone Cocktail; re-shaken daily

So much of our lives depends on our inner cycle clock. The ability to cope with a problem easily vs getting annoyed. Whether we fight off a virus easily, or come down with a cold. After the sleep cycle, the menstrual cycle is the most important biological clock for women.

During puberty, the connection between hypothalamus, pituitary and ovaries, is activated. This interaction determines your sex hormones for women, and their ups and downs, for the next 40 years! There is nothing comparable for men, and their hormonal functions vary much less. For women, the "mix" of hormones shifts; they are different daily, or even hourly. For many years, these changes are repeated in an individual rhythm, with each woman having different cycles.

Recently, more and more tasks that were previously thought to be the responsibility of other organs are being attributed to hormones. According to the latest knowledge, estrogen is the best protection against high cholesterol levels, weight problems or hair loss, while testosterone is being marked as responsible for abstract thinking or spatial imagination. Sometimes only a fraction of a gram of a hormone can bring about huge changes in health and lifestyle. The hormone cycle determines every biological process in a woman's body. Research is showing that fitness, sexual charisma and appearance, all depend on the hormone cocktail that our biological clock’s “bar” remixes every day.

Highs and lows: Possible effects of different hormones

Different hormonal levels can have different effects on well being. Here are some examples of how your hormones can affect your emotions.

Relax, put your feet up: Progesterone, the calming hormone

When progesterone is metabolized, it has a calming effect on women. On the other hand, progesterone can also be responsible for mood swings commonly attributed to PMS. If your progesterone levels are disturbed for any reason, its’ calming effect is also absent, causing many women to suffer from depression and/or unpleasant moods. Even during puberty, if there is an absence of progesterone, this can have damaging or even fatal consequences. This can cause preteen girls to experience anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, and even eating disorders. These tend to occur two to three times more frequently in young females than young males. This mental vulnerability can at least partly be attributed to hormonal development during sexual maturity. Puberty often leads to menstruation, but not always to ovulation: the progesterone can then be missing in the interim, causing preteen women to experience these mental and emotional side effects.

Turning the lights up: Estrogen, the Energy hormone

For other women, decreases in estrogen levels can create lower moods and emotional upset. For some post- menopausal women, they report that life is fine or pleasant, but they are still depressed. The culprit behind this depression can be found in a drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen has a strong stimulating effect on the mood and is energizing. If there is a lack of estrogen, there is a corresponding lack of energy or “motor” to get up and go.

Hello, libido: the Testosterone Effect

Known mostly for its role as a primary male sex hormone, testosterone also plays a significant role for women and their mood. Testosterone is responsible for the libido, so a lack of this hormone can lead to frustration and unpleasant moods. Women who take birth control are often affected by testosterone deficiency. Otherwise, testosterone decreases for women over age 60, which can lead to a decrease in libido and affect the psyche, mood and well-being.

Cuddle Drug: the Relationship Hormone, Oxytocin

Oxytocin is the hormone released during sex, to help establish a bond between the sex partners. Biologically, this bond helps continue the species through continued reproduction. A deficiency in oxytocin is difficult to detect, but the lack of oxytocin can cause various mental disorders. What you experience as the “honeymoon” phase in the early stages of relationships may partly be a result of oxytocin in your system! So basically, cuddles are good for you. Thanks science!

Mood and Hormones

Just as hormones influence moods, the reverse is also true. Feelings and emotions also have an effect on the hormones. States such as stress, sadness, and grievance have an effect on the hormones. Occasionally, they can even cause menstruation to stop. How exactly does this happen? Well, the psyche is biochemical; neurotransmitters are released continuously, such as serotonin or adrenaline. These act on the hormone-producing glands. If a woman is exposed to great stress, causing depression, the psyche signals this to the ovary, an extremely sensitive organ. As a result, everything slows down, and the ovary can be thrown into “hibernation” by the psyche, so to speak. So, creating positive mental states and situations that put you in that headspace, can create physically positive changes in your body.

What can I do about it? If mood swings are a problem in the premenstrual phase, or if you’re experiencing a hormonally affected emotional rollercoaster, there are things you can do to positively affect your hormones!

Get your body moving: Exercise increases testosterone levels. The female body also produces estrogen from testosterone, and estrogen lifts the mood. In addition, a conscious lifestyle is generally recommended: eat moderately, avoid alcohol, sleep well. If the impairments are more serious, we recommend talking to your OB/GYN.

You are (feeling) what you eat: Diet can also have an influence on mood and symptoms of PMS. Many women experience an increased appetite for sweets and sugar during their luteal phase, but sugar can also lead to an aggravation of PMS symptoms. When these cravings hit, it’s best to go for a piece of dark chocolate, containing less sugar and more antioxidants. After ovulation, rising estrogen and energy levels create an optimal time to start your healthy eating plan. This is a great time to keep it fresh and light with green vegetables and fish. For more individualized advice, seek the advice of nutritionist in your area.

Cycle Tracking One way to track what phase of your cycle you're in is to download a period tracking app. Most of these apps count your cycle days and then give you statistical estimations about your ovulation.

However, to know exactly where you are in your cycle, and therefore what is going on inside your body, it is best to use an app that tracks your actual hormones, since its hormones which set your cycles tone.

From there, you can have all the information to make informed choices that can affect your mood, wellbeing, and create positive changes for your cycle and your body.

Happy tracking for a happy cycle, from us at Pearl!

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