When female hormones go crazy, it can affect everything from our weight, mood, sleep and sexual desire. Here are 7 things we should know about them
When female hormones go crazy, it can trigger everything from mood swings, to weight gain and tiredness. But on the plus side, they’re also the key to better orgasms, improved productivity and inner calmness. So we figured it was time we got to know our body’s most powerful chemicals a little better, and then use them to our advantage…
1. They influence your outfit choices
Why is it, some days you want to wear bright neons and statement jewellery, and others you’re in more of a monochrome mood? ‘During pre-ovulation, we feel more body confident, so we dress in tighter, bolder clothes,’ explains Miranda Gray, author of The Optimized Woman: Using Your Menstrual Cycle to Achieve Success and Fulfillment. ‘In the menstrual phase, we usually wear darker, looser clothes.’ So wardrobe planning just got a whole lot simpler, then.
2. They make you look good (mostly)
That major party/ big wedding/ hot date you’ve been counting down to? It’s worth knowing that we’re at our most alluring during ovulation, about two weeks before your period, according to a study in the Oxford Journal of Human Reproduction. Your face and breasts become more symmetrical, there’s a natural rouge to your lips and cheeks and men are attracted to subtle changes in your voice and scent. Two days before your period, on the other hand, might not be your finest hour thanks to skin breakouts and major fatigue.
3. You can track them with an app
What to do when female hormones go crazy? Yeah, there’s an app for that. Now you can avoid unexpected emotional outbursts, chart your fertility, or make the most of a hormonal surge in horniness, by using a free hormone-tracking app. Here are the best ones to download now, to help plan life around your period:
Monitor your basal body temperature (BBT), cervical fluid and menstrual cycle to calculate the best days for a breast exam, smear test or when to expect mood swings.
This app allows you to pinpoint the optimum time in your cycle for productivity (and that meeting with your boss), lust (hello, date night!) and calmness.
The app that gives you greater control of your fertility by charting basal temperature ‘shift’ to help you better achieve or avoid pregnancy.
4. They make you feel horny
Interestingly, women who are not on the Pill have more sexual fantasies than those who do take the Pill, because oral contraceptives suppress the natural hormones that increase libido, according to the Kinsey Institute. During the first stage of the hormone cycle, fantasies focus on physical sex, but once women ovulate they’re more turned on by emotions. Cue: unexpected lusting after strangers on the bus, and inappropriate thoughts about Harry Styles (perhaps). Unsurprisingly, when female hormones, go crazy, alcohol can play role, and there’s a reason why you feel horny on a hangover. Sex releases oxytocin, a natural pain and stress reliever, so forget the Nurofen and go back to bed because sex is nature’s best cure.
5. They help signpost bigger health issues
In her book Period Repair Manual, Dr Lara Briden explains how to spot a hormonal imbalance. This usually means you’re making too much or too little oestrogen and progesterone, which can trigger health issues, from acne to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. But what are the signs?
• You’re in bed by 10pm most nights, but not ready to wake up by 7am.
• You get seriously hungry if you don’t eat every two hours.
• You’ve called in sick to work because of period cramps.
• You’ve noticed excess hair on your face, arms and chest, or experienced hair loss.
• Your concentration span has got worse.
If you recognise these symptoms, first go to your GP, but Dr Briden also suggests managing stress to keep the hormone cortisol in check. ‘Get enough rest, relaxation and fun into your schedule and take magnesium and phosphatidylserine supplements, and herbal remedy Rhodiola.’
6. They could be stopping you from sleeping
Just before your period, you may find it harder to sleep, and wake at night. This is down to dips in progesterone and oestrogen, leaving you without their soothing qualities. Dr Lara Briden says:
• Go tech-free an hour before bed. Blue light stops your body producing enough melatonin to make you sleepy.
• Try magnesium supplements, which relax the muscles and lower your adrenalin
7. They can help you lose weight
Forget fads and instead go for a sustainable diet, by eating and exercising in sync with your cycle. Alisa Vitti, author of Womancode, explains how:
• Cut out white carbs and sugar to avoid making the hormone insulin (which controls glucose levels in the body) soar and crash. This helps your blood sugar to stabilise and stops the production of extra fat cells.
• High-intensity exercise, like spinning, raises body temperature, releasing the hormone irisin, which reprogrammes fat cells to burn energy instead of storing fat.
• Rest between exercise days. Tiredness and anxiety cause high levels of cortisol, which makes you crave unhealthy foods and triggers the production of belly fat.