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The Relationship Between Menstruation, Appetite, and Mental Health in Women

Amanda Winstead
The Relationship Between Menstruation, Appetite, and Mental Health in Women

If you’ve yet to explore the relationship between menstruation, appetite, and mental health, you could be missing out on finding effective solutions for the struggles you experience while on your period.

Ignoring your mental health could contribute to an unhealthy appetite. The hormonal changes you experience during menstruation can worsen mental health issues. These are just a couple of ways the relationship between all three manifests itself.

We’ll touch more on these and other aspects of the connection between menstruation, appetite, and mental health. And then, we’ll leave you with tips on how to keep your appetite and mental health in good shape while you’re on your period.

How Menstruation, Appetite, and Mental Health Intersect

Let’s start with how menstruation can ignite an increased appetite in women.

Changes to your hormonal balance occur when you’re menstruating. Your estrogen and progesterone levels drop, increasing your hunger cravings. And stress during your period releases the hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite and makes you want to consume fatty and sugary foods. 

Menstruation can affect your mental health as well. The hormonal changes mentioned above can cause mood swings and increased irritability. Your amygdala is stimulated, causing you to feel more upset and emotional than usual. Stronger feelings of anxiety and depression surface too.

Note that anxiety and depression can contribute to an increased or decreased appetite. If it’s the latter, not eating can worsen your mood swings and period symptoms.

Mental health struggles and tough physical symptoms induced by your period can also make you want to just indulge in what makes you most comfortable, especially comfort foods.

The relationship between menstruation, appetite, and mental health can seem like a vicious cycle of negative impacts during an already challenging time. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Paying attention to your appetite and nurturing your mental health during your menstrual cycle can make a big difference. 

Tips for Keeping Your Appetite and Mental Health In Check During Your Menstrual Cycle

You probably can’t get rid of all of the appetite and mental health woes that come with menstruation. However, you can adopt certain practices to fend many of them off and cope better with the ones that you can’t.
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Focusing on keeping your energy levels up, pursuing personal passions, and being a strong advocate for your health can keep your appetite and mental health in a good place during your menstrual cycle.

Focus on keeping your energy levels up

The hormonal changes you experience during menstruation can do a number on your energy levels. You’re fatigued and not in the best mood. Plus, you probably aren’t eating as well as you should, impacting your energy levels even more.

If you prioritize keeping your energy up throughout the day, each day you’re on your period, you’ll feel better. And when you feel better, you can cope with the hard parts of menstruation healthily.

Start by eating for energy rather than succumbing to your food cravings. Of course, you can have your sweets or other guilty pleasure. But the majority of the foods you eat should boost your energy, such as high-quality proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake and drink mostly water.

Set some personal health goals and achieve them by sticking to a consistent exercise routine. Physical activity betters the oxygen circulation in your body, increases your stamina, and strengthens your heart. All of which contribute to feeling more energized.

Finally, manage what stresses you out during your period with more intention. Being in a constant state of stress can drain you mentally and physically.

So, whether it’s certain people who stress you out, your work schedule, or just being on your period generally, find ways to keep your stress levels low. Give meditation or yoga a try. Binge-watch your favorite show. Turn on some calming music and get some much-needed rest.

Keep your energy levels high so that you can take on menstruation, appetite, and mental health challenges with purpose and confidence.

Pursue personal passions

Although you may not feel like it, digging into your personal passions while your menstruating can take your mind off your cravings and improve your mental health.

You won’t have time to worry about sweets, chips, and fried foods when you’re busy doing something you love. Also, personal passions feed your soul, making your mind happy and inspiring emotional stability.  

What do you love to do? Or, what have you been working on — outside of work and family obligations — that’s just for you? Challenge yourself to make time for whatever this is each day of your menstrual cycle.

Even if it’s for 15 minutes a day. That 15 minutes will give you a mood boost, distract you from your cravings, and ease anxiety, depression, and other challenging mental health symptoms.

Advocate for your health

Only you know the extent of how menstruation affects your appetite, mental, and physical health. If you start to feel so down, in pain, and uneasy with your eating habits, it’s important to visit your primary care physician (PCP).

Be sure to be an advocate for your own health when you visit the doctor. Speak up honestly about what you’re going through, especially when you feel like your PCP isn’t grasping the gravity of your experience.

For example, let’s say your doctor is overlooking how deep your sadness runs when you’re on your period. Give them another example of how your depression shows itself, and then request a referral to a mental health specialist.

Whatever it takes to develop a treatment plan that will give you some consistent relief.

Menstruation, appetite, and mental health are all connected. Each impacts the other. And for many women, that impact is negative. But we hope this article gives you a starting point for finding relief while you’re on your period.


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NannoPad®  is a must-have for a healthier period. Super thin and absorbent, NannoPad is developed to help with your menstrual discomfort in a holistic and effective way. See reviews here. Incontinence version NannoDry® is available too!

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. 

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