Most menstruating people are aware of the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone during their cycles. Estrogen peaks right before ovulation and progesterone peaks right after. Both hormones take a steady dip before bleeding begins. What most of us aren’t aware of, however, is that these hormones are also related to serotonin and endorphin levels.
How exactly does that work?
In a nut shell:
High estrogen = high serotonin and high endorphins.
Low estrogen = low serotonin and low endorphins.
Endorphins are in charge of dampening pain signals that are received by our brain. These are most potent when estrogen levels are high. It suddenly makes perfect sense that menstrual cramps can be wildly debilitating; our estrogen levels are at their lowest, so our endorphins are less effective. If you’ve ever been told to ‘tough it out’, you now know how to defend yourself due to the way your hormones affect how your body deals with pain.
Progesterone is responsible for helping us feel calm and relaxed. It has a similar effect on the brain as depressive drugs like alcohol and sleeping pills. The hormone interacts with an amino acid called Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain to increase feelings of bliss. Since progesterone drops shortly before we menstruate, it’s totally understandable that we can feel more anxious or even irritable at this time.
Serotonin, the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, is increased by estrogen but can remain relatively steady in some menstruators. For those who suffer from PMS, however, serotonin will drop when estrogen does. Actually, those with low levels of serotonin are more likely to suffer from PMS. It should be noted that while progesterone and estrogen rise and fall in all bleeders on a regular basis, some will be more sensitive to the changes than others. This could be why your menstrual cycle is kicking your butt more than your friends’. And it’s completely normal to have varying responses since we’re all living in different bodies that respond in their own way.
Hormones affect more than your mood though
They’re also tied to appetite, sleep cycles, metabolism and temperature. If you’re suffering from other symptoms such as: low libido, insomnia or poor quality sleep, vaginal dryness or skin problems, it is possible you might have a hormonal imbalance. You should talk to your doctor to see what can be done as far as testing and treatment based on your results. Our menstrual cycle is a vital sign of our health, so paying attention to all aspects of it and even taking notes can help point us in the right direction.
Which came first: PMS or inflammation?
PMS affects us in both physically and emotionally. Most common symptoms are: breast tenderness, abdominal pain, mood swings, forgetfulness and everyone’s favorite: bloating. Bloating is often thought of as fluid retention, but that’s not always the case, sometimes it’s inflammation. Our levels naturally increase in-between ovulation and menstruation. This is a good time to focus on anti-inflammatory practices in your lifestyle. The biomarker of inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP), which is produced by the liver. High levels of CRP in the blood have been associated with PMS. So is PMS causing our inflammation, or is it the other way around? Researchers are starting to believe the latter, so the question has to be asked: If we can prevent inflammation, can we prevent or minimize the symptoms of PMS altogether?
Semaine PMS & Period Support is full of potent anti-oxidants that were specifically selected to help support body when it needs it the most. It is gentle enough on your system to take every day of the month, and powerful enough that you'll wonder how you lived without it. While we recommend using it a few days before and during your cycle, we specifically formulated it so you can take it whatever way is best for your symptoms.