5 Ways the Menstrual Cycle Phases Can Impact Your Daily Life
Every woman responds differently to each stage of their menstrual cycle, with some women experiencing harsher symptoms than others.
For some women, their menstrual cycles are more predictable as they will get their period often on the same day of each cycle. For others, it will be more unpredictable as to when it will happen.
In either case, it certainly stands to reason that the different stages of menstruation (menstrual, follicular, ovulation, and luteal) will bear different complications or discomforts on women in different ways. However, whether it’s due to a lack of education or access to healthcare, many women may not know that many aspects of their health can be traced back to these influential stages of their period cycle. Learning about all of these effects can not only help you understand your body more, but feel validation in this totally normal and natural occurrence.
1. Your Skin
Right before menstruation, the female body can experience testosterone spikes, which can cause increases in sebum. This can lead to more sebaceous gland secretions and oily hair.
You can usually detect that your period is about to commence if you notice particularly oily hair and new breakouts on the skin. This may be coupled with a more potent smell from any bacterial build-up from higher counts of sebum during this stage.
A woman’s sex drive can also be affected during the different stages of the menstrual cycle. Typically, the libido will have peaks and dips with each stage. Since libido for women is closely dictated by hormone levels, it will be lowest in the week right before menstruation and highest before ovulation occurs.
Anticipating when there will be highs and lows in sex drive is important for maintaining an active sex life around the menstrual cycle. Also, having a grasp on what’s affecting any desire for sex or a lack thereof is important to communicate to your partner
3. Mental Health
The hormones that increase in a woman’s body during menstruation can be linked to many behavior changes, such as irritability, anger, and even fear. As estrogen winds down at the end of the follicular phase, progesterone takes its place, peaking during the luteal phase. However, after progesterone declines and serotonin creeps in at varying degrees is when PMS symptoms begin to be noticeable.
Since progesterone is a significant factor that stimulates the amygdala, a small center of the brain that handles our emotions, attitudes, behaviorisms, and demeanor can be affected by highs and lows, ranging from extreme happiness and extreme depression.
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This is where we get the term Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), but it can also devolve into something much worse, that is, premenstrual dysphoria disorder (PMDD).
PMDD is worse in many cases since it borrows all of the same symptoms from PMS and makes them all more intense. Where PMS might cause depression, PMDD might cause suicidal thoughts. Where PMS might cause tiredness, PMDD can cause exhaustion, making it difficult to complete daily tasks or even go to work.
PMDD is a serious mental health issue that should be consulted for by a doctor, with the potential for medication as treatment.
Try to stay aware of your own symptoms. While most women experience regular PMS symptoms, you’ll have to gauge for yourself the severity of your own symptoms to determine if you might have PMDD or not.
GERD is experienced by many beyond just women, but its symptoms can be commonplace before and during women’s menstrual cycles and even present right after ovulation during the luteal phase.
It’s typically associated with heartburn, gas and bloating, pain or discomfort in the chest, bad breath, regurgitation, and increased salivation, among other rarer GERD symptoms.
GERD can be extremely uncomfortable at moments, and it can often draw attention to yourself in ways you might not prefer, so finding ways to minimize the effects of GERD is worth considering.
Some ways to counteract heartburn and indigestion from GERD can be mindfulness of what you’re eating right before you menstruate. Try staying away from overly acidic foods like tomatoes and apples. If you’re in tune with your schedule, you’ll be able to anticipate when you’ll have your period and stop eating those kinds of foods before they cause you discomfort.
5. Breast Discomfort
You may notice that during different phases of menstruation, your breasts will vary in both the size and feel.
Normally, the influx of estrogen and progesterone will cause breasts to swell up and even form small lumps. At the later stages of the menstrual cycle, breasts will typically reduce in size back to their normal size if the egg that’s being passed isn’t fertilized. This is a natural phenomenon that happens as the body prepares for pregnancy. If pregnancy doesn’t happen after ovulation, then the hormones that go into prepping the breasts for pregnancy deplete, and the breasts eventually return to their normal state.
Rest assured that many women experience many of these issues we’ve touched on to varying degrees of intensity. You may experience one of these symptoms more than others, and some you may never have to deal with.
What’s important is recognizing any patterns of what your body is vulnerable to during menstruation and putting steps in place to curb pain and discomfort for the future.
For a lot of women, their menstrual cycle is a prepared-for event that, although obnoxious, can be a pain-free experience if they do their own homework to know their body well enough to understand what it needs on a daily basis.
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Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare. Nannocare is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the author of this article, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.