Hormones & Cycles

Cycle Syncing: How hormones can influence your psyche

There are days when you feel beautiful, confident and happy all around. But then there are days when you would like to lock yourself up at home, see nobody and are insecure. The natural female cycle can bring these different emotions with it. That sounds like a constant chaos of moods, but if we learn to understand the cycle, then we can use these emotions positively for ourselves.

Your hormone cocktail is remixed daily

Whether we cope with our problems easily or react annoyed, whether we catch a flu easily or the immune system is in top form - that depends decisively on our inner cycle clock. And for women -after the sleep rhythm- their menstrual cycle is the most important clock in their lives.

In the past, the experience of menstruation was predominantly negative and corresponded to the ideas of illness and suffering. The picture of menstruation today is often still shaped by these traditional ideas. In the meantime, it is known that a negative attitude to menstruation is directly related to the occurrence and intensity of menstrual cramps or discomforts. When young girls are taught about their menstrual cycle and its connections, they are usually amazed and proud of their female abilities. This not only increases self-confidence, but also often improves well-being during menstruation days.

As mentioned before, some biological functions are characterized by periodicity in all humans, e.g. the cardiac sleep rhythm. Women additionally have another special rhythm: During puberty, the activation of the endocrine "axis" between hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary installs the central regulation that determines the interaction of the sex hormones and their ups and downs in about the following 40 years of their life. In men, there is nothing comparable and their functions vary to a much lesser extent. In the woman's organism, on the other hand, the "mix" of hormones shifts and is different every day- even hourly, and for many years these changes are repeated in an individual rhythm, with each woman having different long cycles.

More and more tasks that were previously thought to be the responsibility of other organs are being attributed to hormones - and its the female hormones in particular that have an influence on women's lives. According to the latest knowledge, the female sex hormone estrogen is the best protection against high cholesterol levels, weight problems or hair loss, while the male hormone testosterone is responsible for abstract thinking or spatial imagination. Sometimes only a fraction of a gram of a hormone decides on health and lifestyle. The hormone cycle determines every biological process in a woman's body and female hormones play a much greater role than previously assumed- fitness, sexual charisma and our appearance all depend on the hormone cocktail that our biological clock remixes every day.

Highs and lows: Possible effects of different hormones

Different hormones and their levels can have different effects on your well being. Here are some examples, of how hormones can mess with your emotions:

The relaxing hormone: Progesterone(Corpus-Luteum Hormone)

Progesterone, the yellow body hormone, is responsible for mood swings before menstruation. When metabolized, the hormone has a calming effect on the organism. If this mechanism is disturbed for any reason, the calming effect of the corpus luteum hormone, is also absent. Women then often suffer from depression and other unpleasant moods. The absence of progesterone can have fatal consequences even during puberty. It is a phenomenon that after the onset of puberty, between the ages of 12 and 18, young girls are often particularly sensitive. Anxiety states, panic attacks, phobias, but also eating disorders occur two to three times more frequently in these times than in young boys. This mental vulnerability can at least partly be attributed to the hormonal situation and the (still developing) sexual maturity. Puberty often leads to menstruation, but not always to ovulation. Then the progesterone responsible for the corpus luteum phase is missing and its absence can be partly responsible for the fact that women also get these problems after puberty.

The energy hormone: Estrogen

For other women, it is decreasing estrogen levels, that play a decisive role in the development of moodiness. Some women who go through menopause report that everything is fine, they lead a pleasant life and have a nice home - but are still depressed. The cause of these conditions can be a drop in estrogen levels. The estrogen has a strong stimulating effect on the mood and is energizing. If there is a lack of estrogen, which like progesterone is produced in the female ovaries, there is a corresponding lack of this stimulating “motor”.

The power hormone: Testosterone

The most important male sex hormone, testosterone, also plays a significant role for women and their mood. A lack of the power hormone, which is essentially responsible for our libido, can lead to frustration and bad mood. Women who take the pill are particularly often affected by a testosterone deficiency. Otherwise, testosterone decreases continuously in women over the age of 60 or 65, and in some cases even around the age of 40. The lowering of the testosterone level can lead to a decrease in libido, which ultimately also affects the psyche, mood and well-being. In women, testosterone is produced in the ovaries or adrenal glands.

The relationship hormone: Oxytocin

Oxytocin is for example released during sexual intercourse and helps to establish a bond between the sex partners. This bond is in the interest of reproduction. A deficiency of oxytocin is difficult to detect, as it is very short-lived, but the lack of oxytocin can cause various mental disorders. In contrast to progesterone, estrogen and testosterone, oxytocin, which also plays an important role in breastfeeding, is produced in the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus.

Interaction: Your mood influences hormones

Just as various hormones can influence moods, feelings and emotions also have an effect on the hormonal situation: (Emotional) states such as stress, sadness, and grievance are interrelated to hormone levels. The various states have an effect on the hormones, so that, for example, menstruation can suddenly stop. This can happen not only during puberty, but also whenever a strain becomes too big.

How exactly does this happen? The psyche is ultimately also a biochemical process in which neurotransmitters are released on a large scale. And neurotransmitters such as serotonin or adrenaline act on the hormone-producing glands. If, for example, a woman is exposed to great stress and is permanently sad, the psyche signals this to the ovary, which is an extremely sensitive organ. As a result, everything slows down, and the ovary is thrown into hibernation by the psyche so to speak.

So what helps if mood swings, bad temper and irritability are a problem in the premenstrual phase or if an emotional roller coaster is a burden during the cycle or menopause?

Exercising is always good because exercise increases testosterone levels. The female body is able to produce estrogen from testosterone and estrogen lifts the mood. In addition, a conscious lifestyle is generally recommended: eat moderately, avoid alcohol, sleep well. If the impairments are more serious, specialist advice should be sought from a gynaecologist.

Your diet can also have an influence on bothering occurrences during your cycle, such as pms symptoms. Many women for example experience an increased appetite for sweets and sugar during their luteal phase, which can lead to an aggravation of premenstrual syndrome. When cravings like this come to show, it’s best to for example go for a piece of dark chocolate which is a powerful source of antioxidants. With rising estrogen and energy levels during the follicular phase it’s an optimal time to start your healthy eating plan- keep it fresh and light with for example green vegetables and fish. For optimal individual diet plans a functional nutritionist can be of great help.

If you want to be sure about what phase of your cycle you're in, it is best to download a period tracking app. Here it is advisable to pay attention on how exactly the app tracks your cycle: Most of the apps work by simply counting your cycle days and then give you statistical estimations about your ovulation date. To know exactly where you are in your cycle and what is going on inside your body, it is best to use an app that tracks your actual hormones, since its hormones which set your cycles tone.