The Link Between Hormones and Mood: Exploring Mood Changes During the Menstrual Cycle

The Link Between Hormones and Mood: Exploring Mood Changes During the Menstrual Cycle

June 12, 2023
Clinically reviewed by Dr. Mary Oleksowicz

Essential Takeaways

  1. The menstrual cycle and mood are intricately intertwined due to the fluctuating levels of hormones throughout the different phases.
  2. Mood changes with every one of the four phases of the menstrual cycle.
  3. Different foods and exercise can help alleviate symptoms.

The menstrual cycle can have an impact on a person's mood due to fluctuating hormone levels. Here's a general overview of how mood changes can occur during different phases of the menstrual cycle:

  1. Menstruation (Days 1-5): Some individuals may experience mood swings, irritability, or sadness during this phase. Hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, are relatively low during menstruation, which can contribute to these mood changes.
  2. Follicular Phase (Days 6-14): As the body prepares for ovulation, estrogen levels gradually increase. This rise in estrogen can have a positive effect on mood and energy levels, leading to a generally improved mood and a sense of well-being.
  3. Ovulation (Around Day 14): Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary. Some people may experience a brief surge in estrogen and luteinizing hormone during this phase, which can contribute to increased energy and heightened mood. Some individuals may also experience a temporary increase in sexual desire.
  4. Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): After ovulation, the body enters the luteal phase. During this phase, progesterone levels rise while estrogen levels decrease. This hormonal shift can lead to mood changes such as irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or even feelings of sadness or depression. These symptoms are collectively known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and can vary in intensity among individuals. If severe mood changes occur during this phase, it is referred to as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

It's important to note that not everyone experiences significant mood changes during their menstrual cycle. The impact of hormonal fluctuations on mood can vary greatly from person to person. Additionally, other factors like stress, lifestyle, and underlying mental health conditions can also influence mood changes throughout the cycle. If you are concerned about your mood or experience severe symptoms that interfere with your daily life, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and support.

Finding Balance: Tips for Handling Mood Changes During Your Monthly Cycle

Managing mood changes during the four phases of the menstrual cycle can involve various strategies. Here are a few techniques that may help:

  1. Awareness and Tracking: Keep a menstrual cycle diary to track your mood changes and identify patterns. Being aware of the upcoming phases can help you anticipate and manage mood fluctuations effectively.
  2. Self-Care and Stress Management: Prioritize self-care activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, such as practicing mindfulness, engaging in regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
  3. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit caffeine and sugar intake, as they can exacerbate mood swings. Regular exercise can also have a positive impact on mood and overall well-being.
  4. Social Support: Seek emotional support from friends, family, or support groups. Sharing your experiences with others who understand can provide validation and help reduce feelings of isolation.
  5. Relaxation Techniques: Explore relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or aromatherapy. These practices can help reduce stress and promote emotional balance.
  6. Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques can be helpful in identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and developing coping strategies for managing mood changes.
  7. Herbal Remedies: Some individuals find relief from mood changes by using herbal remedies such as chamomile tea, lavender, or supplements like evening primrose oil or omega-3 fatty acids. However, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any herbal remedies.
  8. Medications: In severe cases where mood changes significantly impact daily life, healthcare professionals may prescribe medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or hormonal treatments to regulate mood and hormonal balance.