Every month like clockwork it arrives. We surf the crimson wave. Watch a little shark week. Put baby in the corner. Whatever name you subscribe to, menstruation leaves many of us irritated, exhausted, and consuming chocolate by the fistful. We've watched men shuffle off to the safest corner of the room, barely a glance in our direction, in case that too should cause us to bristle. Poor guys. If it helps...it's not about you. Here's what's really happening to your body during your period...and our top tip on how to deal.
During Your Period:
Days 1-7 finds estrogen and progesterone at their lowest levels. Prostaglandins, lipid compounds that produce hormone-like effects, cause uterine contractions (cramps), and fatigue. Did we forget something? Oh yes. Studies have found that low estrogen levels may cause forgetfulness and brain fog.
Days 8-14 are sunny thanks to high levels of estrogen and lowered levels of progesterone. With PMS water weight also low...your butt looks great. As estrogen levels rise, your mood and outlook become more positive. Your boyfriend can come out of the corner now. All the better if he complements your glowing skin.
Days 15-20 we experience a surge in testosterone. Cue the assertiveness and competitive spirit. This might be the time to best your numbers at spin or crossfit. While you may have slight cramping or spotting during this week, it's also prime time to burn a few more calories. Research suggests that this may be due to the elevated body temperature during ovulation. We knew there had to be a perk in there somewhere!
PMS occurs during days 21-28 of our cycle. Progesterone and estrogen cycles drop, triggering headaches, fluid retention, and acne- thanks to the stimulation of sebaceous glands. Gee thanks. You may also find yourself saddled with poor concentration, and a short attention span. Is it over yet?
Until PMS vacation days are officially a thing (can we make them a thing?), our number one tip for curbing the roller coaster of menstruation is...drumroll...exercise. Ugh. No. While it's probably the last thing you want to hear...or do, the physiological benefits of exercise are well documented because they work! Regular exercise increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, helping to reduce stress, ward off feelings of depression, boost self-esteem, and improve sleep. Simply take a walk, book a yoga class, ride a bike, take a dance class. Most of all, pay attention to your body and your needs. Follow up with all the dark chocolate you want!