This article has been researched and written by Arelang Naturals® in-house writers.
Hormones, those little chemical messengers running wild in our bodies, can be both a blessing and a curse. And when it comes to the dynamic duo of estrogen and progesterone, they can really wreak havoc on our mood, skin, and energy levels. The ovaries produce them and work together to regulate everything from your mood to your digestion to your sex drive. But did you know that their levels fluctuate between period cycles?
First things first, let's meet our hormone heroes. Estrogen is like the head cheerleader, stimulating the growth and development of our reproductive organs and getting our bodies ready for ovulation. Also called the sex hormone, estrogen helps to regulate the menstrual cycle, stimulate the growth of the uterine lining, and promote the development of secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts, pubic and underarm hair, and widening of the hips in females. Estrogen levels naturally decline as women age and approach menopause, which can lead to a range of symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and decreased bone density.
Progesterone, on the other hand, is like the trusty sidekick, responsible for prepping the uterus for pregnancy and keeping things chill during the luteal phase of our cycle. Its main function is to prepare and maintain the lining of the uterus for implantation. During a normal menstrual cycle, progesterone levels rise after ovulation and help prepare the uterus for a potential pregnancy. If fertilization does not occur, these levels drop, leading to the shedding of the uterine lining and the onset of menstruation.
But, like any good dynamic duo, estrogen and progesterone need to be balanced for everything to run smoothly. Let's dive into the wacky world of hormone fluctuations and see what kind of shenanigans they can cause!
First up, we've got mood swings. Estrogen and progesterone can have a rollercoaster effect on your emotions. During the luteal phase, which is the two weeks leading up to your period, your progesterone levels are high, and this can make you feel like a real grump. You might snap at your partner for leaving the toilet seat up or cry at the drop of a hat. But don't worry, it's not you, it's just your hormones being little pranksters.
Next, we've got breast tenderness. It is that achy, sore feeling that makes you want to wear a sports bra to bed. Well, you can thank estrogen and progesterone for that not-so-lovely symptom. During the luteal phase, your progesterone levels are on the rise, and this can cause your boobs to swell up like balloons. It's like your body is preparing for a party that's never going to happen.
Moving on, let's talk about everyone's favourite topic - acne. We all thought we left it behind in high school, but nope, it can come back to haunt us during the menstrual cycle. This time, we can blame our hormones for the breakouts. Estrogen and progesterone can mess with the production of sebum which is the oily substance that helps keep our skin moisturised. When these hormones go haywire, our skin can go from dewy to greasy in a heartbeat. Thanks, hormones, we really appreciate it, NOT.
And then we've got hot flashes. We usually associate hot flashes with menopause, but a little-known fact is that they can also occur during the menstrual cycle due to fluctuations in estrogen levels. It's like our hormones are playing a game of "let's see if we can make her sweat through her shirt in under 10 seconds." And they can!
Estrogen and progesterone can also really do a number on our tummies. During the luteal phase, progesterone can slow down our digestion which leads to constipation or bloating. It's like our hormones are trying to sabotage our skinny jeans and making unbuttoning your pants in public reality. And, a must-mention here is diarrhea! Yes, our hormones can cause that too.
Now, coming to sex, the hero we all can live with or live without. Estrogen and progesterone hormones can also have an impact on our libido. During the follicular phase, which is the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, our estrogen levels are high, and this can put us in the mood for some lovin'. But during the luteal phase, our progesterone levels are high, making us never want to talk about sex and things. It's like our hormones are playing a game of "now you see it, now you don't."
And all this is happening in the one month between the 2 menstrual cycles. So, how can we keep the estrogen and progesterone hormones in check? Here are some tips to help you slay the hormone beasts:
Get your dates right: Now that you have understood what your body is going through during the phases between the 2 menstrual cycles, being mindful of your dates always helps to understand what phase your body is in currently. Going with the flow and the needs of your body helps your body cope with the changes and the needs of the cycle. Simply put, Estrogen is high during the first two weeks after your period ends. Progesterone is high during the 2 weeks prior to your next cycle.
Get your zen on: Stress is the worst, but managing it is the key to keeping your hormones happy. Try getting in yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to help you unwind and feel saintly and zen.
Watch what you eat like a hawk, especially during the luteal phase to curb the bloating and indigestion: eating too many processed foods or loading up on sugar can cause insulin levels to go haywire, messing with our hormonal balance. The unfortunate kicker here is that we seem to find most comfort in sugary goodies, chocolates, tubs of ice cream especially during the luteal phase. Plus, if we're not getting enough nutrients like iron and magnesium our hormones will act up. Eating whole foods, lean protein, and healthy fats can help support hormone balance. Avoid the sugary and processed foods, which can make your hormones feel like a bad first date.
Get your sleep on: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to give your body the rest it needs to keep your hormones in check. Getting in those zzzs is a blessing in disguise for you and is your 'night' in shining armour. For those that stress easily and carry the stress to bed each night, leading to sleep depravation, the best solution would be to pop in a natural non melatonin sleep chocolate. Satiates the sugar cravings, relaxes the body before sleep, helps restore the body during sleep.
Start liking to move it, move it: Regular exercise can help support hormone balance by reducing stress levels and keeping your weight in check. So, keep moving!
Stock up on supplements: Especially candyceuticals like Rekindle for Women. Natural plant-based ingredients, like black cohosh, soy isoflavones, and shatavari are progestogenic and help balance estrogen levels in the body. Not only do they help balance hormones and elevate mood, but they also help you take it up a notch so you can salvage your sex life! Certain supplements, like magnesium, can help support hormone balance as well.
Start Journaling: Gratitude journals are great but also consider keeping a journal or using an app to track your symptoms can help you identify patterns and triggers. Plus, it's a great excuse to buy some cute diaries and stationery!
So, there you have it, ladies. Hormones may be wild, but with a little bit of TLC, and a better understanding of the hormones between your cycles you can keep them in check and slay your way through the ups and downs of your menstrual cycle. Remember, you're a hormonal superhero, and nothing can bring you down!
If you're still feeling like a hormonal hot mess, it might be time to talk to your healthcare provider.