Ever wondered what your hormones are doing across your menstrual cycle? Having a period involves a complex interaction between brain and body to regulate hormone levels and to prepare you for a possible pregnancy.
While we don’t see this happening, our bodies and emotions can give handy clues as to what these hormones are really going throughout your cycle and how this affects you.
So what is progesterone and how does it affect me?
Progesterone is a hormone made by your body and is a super important ingredient for healthy fertility and menstruation. It’s released into the body from a temporary endocrine gland in your ovary, called the corpus luteum.
Progesterone is a hard working hormone and its main job is to prepare your body for a potential pregnancy!
It works together with estrogen to thicken the lining of your uterus (to prepare for pregnancy) and stops muscle contractions from happening within your uterus (so your body doesn’t accidentally reject an egg).
Progesterone also gets involved in:
- Stopping the release of more eggs (if you’re pregnant)
- Supporting a healthy pregnancy
- And, if you don’t become pregnant, falling progesterone levels cue the start of your period
It’s due to these falling levels that you might experience premenstrual syndrome symptoms and feel sad, or moody before the start of your period.
What happens to progesterone throughout my cycle?
The purple line shows how progesterone levels naturally rise and fall across a menstrual cycle, with levels at their highest in the second half of your cycle and lowest at the start of your period.
Week one: menstruation
The start of your period marks the start of your cycle. Progesterone levels are at their lowest which cues your period to start. This is your body’s way of removing the thickened uterine lining.
This is often a time when your energy levels are at their lowest. Try giving yourself plenty of time to rest now, and soothe your body with hot baths and heat packs.
Week two: follicular phase (before the release of an egg)
You’ve just finished your period and your progesterone levels are still low. This lets your body know it’s time to produce Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and start to develop a follicle (fluid-filled sac containing an egg).
You’ll likely feel more energetic at this time and, thanks to low progesterone and increased estrogen/testosterone you might feel happier and more confident.
This can be a great time to be social, and to get some things crossed off your to do list. Make sure to drink plenty of water and continue to make time to rest.
Week 3: ovulation (egg releases)
Progesterone levels are still quite low during ovulation (releasing of an egg into the fallopian tube). This is the time that you’re most likely to get pregnant.
You might notice an increase in your sex drive during ovulation, and increased confidence and energy.
This is a great time for increased physical activity and any big events you have planned.
Week 4: luteal phase (after the release of an egg)
This is the time when progesterone levels start to peak in order to prepare your uterine lining for possible pregnancy.
And, you’ll likely experience some PMS symptoms now. You might have food cravings, physical discomfort and feel grumpy or sad about nothing in particular.
Try increasing self care, eat lots of greens and drink plenty of water, do yoga or other stress-relieving activities and slow down where you can.
For most folks who bleed, this monthly cycle continues until menopause.
Keen to learn more about progesterone and how it affects your body? Check out this blog post for simple tips to support your mind and body.[insert link].
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