Women's business - the influence of estrogen and progesterone on our cycle ....
I am very excited to share this blog as I am the first to put up my hand and admit to being a raging ball of hormones at different stages of my cycle. Yep, whilst I try and keep my frustrations as an inner monologue, on occasions they may slip out, prompting those around me to ask "are you about to get your period"? Ahhhhhh yep that would be why I'm in the cupboard searching for chocolate like a woman possessed, whilst yelling at you to stop fuc*&^% asking me if I'm getting my period! The rage is intense, the cravings are unparalleled AND it happens every month! So I asked one of our former clients and fellow Macedon Primary School mum Lisa Hodge to discuss all things related to our cycles.
Lisa is an experienced Clinical Naturopath and local to the Macedon Ranges. She has been in practice since 2012, and works predominantly in the areas of mental health, women's reproductive health, and children's health. Lisa helps her clients find clarity about the root cause of their illness and uses evidence based forms of natural medicine to help clients take back control of their health. Lisa has put together a great article for us on women's hormones so you can better understand what happens during your cycle and if need be, get a consult to try and help with any issues you may have.
On the topic of women’s hormones and fitness, the most important thing to grasp is that as women, we are cyclical beings. Each month we experience a fluctuation of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. By understanding how our hormones rise and fall each week of the month, we get a deeper understanding of why our moods also fluctuate, and can learn how to better manage our energy throughout the month.
Week 1. (day 1 of menstruation – day 7) - Slow phase
On day 1 of the cycle your estrogen levels are at the lowest point. Estrogen is associated with increased levels of serotonin, the feel-good chemical in the brain, so it's natural for you to feel low during this time. Now is the time to slow down physically, so don’t feel bad about skipping your workout on day 1-3 of your cycle. In fact, you can relish in the fact that by taking it easy for a couple of days you are building your energy reserves for the rest of the month.
By Day 7, your period is probably finished, and your mood is most likely lifting. You may feel increased energy as your ovaries release more and more estrogen.
Week 2 (day 8-14) Energetic phase
Estrogen levels are on the rise and peak at days 12-13. You feel more confident, your skin is glowing, and you may even feel more sexy and flirtatious than usual. This isn't a coincidence. By day 14 you are ovulating so your libido is at its highest. If you are not wanting to conceive, why not channel that energy to your advantage. Now is the time for high intensity workouts, mountain hikes and marathons. If you rested last week, you can make up for it this week.
Week 3. (day 15-21) Energetic and calm phase
Hormones continue to rise, and Progesterone joins the party. Even though main purpose of progesterone is to make your uterus a good place for an egg to implant, it also increases GABBA, which is a brain chemical that makes us feel calm, and grounded. There’s no reason to alter your workout regime during this phase, just make sure it works for you and where your levels are at.
If you do not become pregnant this cycle, your ovaries will stop producing estrogen and progesterone near the end of Week 3.
Week 4. (22-28) Reflective (PMS) phase
As the ovulation hormones decline, so does our energy and our happy brain chemicals. Therefore, during the lead up to menstruation we become increasingly sensitive, and have a reduced ability to hold it all together. The physical and emotional concerns are often more noticeable now - digestive upset, migraines, lack of concentration, acne flare-ups, breast tenderness, emotional instability, lack of tolerance etc. These are all signs of imbalance, and our bodies way of communicating areas that need attention. If you take note, some powerful changes can be made during this phase.
Keep active, the production of feel good endorphins created from exercise can ease the symptoms of the pre-menstrual phase and improve your mood. Increase practices that create more stillness and space for reflection such as yoga and Pilates.
Keep an eye on your salt intake during this week as it increases water retention.
Finally, I saved the best for last - if you are craving chocolate, it could be because it contains magnesium, which you lose as your estrogen levels start to decline, so eat chocolate if you want to (just make sure it's dark chocolate with little sugar).
With menstruation, the uterine lining sheds, and the cycle begins anew.
Please note - I'm using a 28-day calendar, but it's completely normal for your menstrual cycle to last anywhere from 21 to 35 days. If you don't have a cycle, or have an unstable cycle you can still follow these principles.
If you have any questions about your menstrual cycle, or have concerns about your menstrual cycle and mood feel free to drop me a line via my website at https://www.lisahodge.net.au/
Well that explains a few things............ I hope you enjoyed this fabulous article by Lisa and have learned some things about your cycle. Remember there are lots of ways to help alleviate symptoms, so be sure to consult a professional for ongoing advice.