Why Am I In A Good Mood After My Period Starts?
You're likely well acquainted with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the set of symptoms that can occur in the days leading up to your period. But have you ever noticed that once your period actually starts, the clouds seem to part, and you suddenly feel a whole lot better?
It's not just your mind playing tricks on you. There's actually a scientific reason for why you might feel in a good mood after your period starts and why your mood can seem to change throughout the month.
It all relates to hormones and how they shift once your period starts. Let's look at hormones throughout your cycle, especially around your period, and how they can affect your mood.
Menstrual Cycle 101
I've covered the complex dance of hormone changes throughout your cycle in more detail in this article, but to make sure we’re all on the same page, let's just quickly review the basics.
Your menstrual cycle is controlled by two main sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone (you’ll want to see that other article for how your brain is involved). These hormones fluctuate throughout your cycle, with estrogen levels rising in the first half and peaking around ovulation and progesterone levels rising in the second half and peaking just before your period.
The first phase of your cycle is called the follicular phase because it's when the follicle that contains the egg develops.
The second phase of your cycle is called the luteal phase. The egg is released, and the follicle becomes the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and estrogen.
Throughout your cycle, estrogen and progesterone fluctuate. As they shift, it can impact how you feel physically and emotionally. The balance between these hormones can also influence your mood, as we'll discuss below.
Period Mood Swings, Both Happy and Sad
Since we are all different, and there's no single way that our bodies respond to hormonal changes, it's not surprising that some of us feel good after our period starts while others take a little longer to feel better.
Some people notice an immediate change when they start their period, while others need to wait a few days for the mood-boosting effects of estrogen to start kicking in. And some just feel not-so-great for the entire period.
It's also worth noting that not everyone experiences premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and not everyone experiences the same symptoms if they do have PMS. And the same is true for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Hormone Levels During Menstrual Cycle Phases
You're not alone if you're someone who usually feels pretty good during your period or right after it starts. In fact, there's a scientific reason for why you might feel this way. When hormone levels increase during the follicular phase of your cycle, it can positively affect your mood.
On the other hand, changes in estrogen and progesterone can have the opposite effect.
Let's take a closer look.
The Follicular Phase: Mood Enhancer
The follicular phase tends to be when you may notice your mood is lighter and you have more energy. It lasts around two weeks until ovulation.
Day one of your follicular phase is the first day of your period. So, even though estrogen levels are low at the start of your period, they don’t stay there for long. Estrogen starts to rise as the follicular phase progresses. Estrogen (plus follicle-stimulating hormone, FSH) is needed to develop the follicle that contains the egg and thickens the uterine lining in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg.
As estrogen levels increase, you might notice a positive effect on your mood. It may take a few days, but those symptoms of PMS irritability or low mood start to dissipate once your period starts. By the time your period ends, you'll (hopefully) feel more social and happy.
One reason could be that estrogen is linked to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood. As estrogen levels increase, so does serotonin production, and this can lead to feelings of happiness and well-being.
Progesterone levels remain relatively stable and low during the follicular phase until they start to climb in the luteal phase following ovulation.
The Ovulatory Phase is Your Menstrual Cycle Midpoint
Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary and usually occurs midway through your cycle. A sudden rise in estrogen levels plus a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers ovulation. This is the point in your cycle when the body is prepped to make a baby (even if it's not in your plans).
Some people may feel temporarily low mood when estrogen drops back down from its pre-ovulation spike, but since it climbs again a few days after ovulation, it's usually short-lived.
The Luteal Phase Can Lead to Low Mood
After ovulation, the corpus luteum, the temporary endocrine structure left behind in the ovary following ovulation, begins producing progesterone. This phase is called the luteal phase and lasts for the remainder of your cycle until you get your period.
Progesterone levels rise for the first half of the luteal phase to prepare for a possible pregnancy. You may feel relaxed and sleep better as progesterone increases because it can stimulate calming neurotransmitters in the brain.
But as you get closer to your period, things can change. If there is no HCG (the pregnancy hormone) available to keep the corpus luteum producing progesterone, it will degrade. This triggers the fall of progesterone and estrogen, which is normal if there has been no implantation of a fertilized egg (pregnancy). Serotonin can also decline with the dip in estrogen. Serotonin has been linked to low moods and symptoms of depression.
While the above can be characterized by mild shifts in mood, motivation, and energy, which is normal, there are situations where mood changes are not considered normal in the luteal phase.
PMS and PMDD in the Luteal Phase
PMS or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) occurs towards the end of the luteal phase, right before your period starts. PMDD is much more severe than PMS, although both should be taken seriously by your provider.
In certain cases, PMS can be an issue of too little progesterone, leaving estrogen to stimulate cell receptors. If you’re struggling with mood and hormone symptoms, I encourage you to grab my free Hormone Balancing Starter Kit to help you get a handle on those symptoms.
When it comes to PMDD, research now tells us that there is a genetic component where women with PMDD are more sensitive to estrogen and progesterone. It’s also believed to be higher among people with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.
Symptoms of PMDD can look like PMS, but the critical difference is the severity and duration of symptoms like:
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Changes in appetite
- Breast tenderness
In most cases, your mood should improve once your period starts and hormone levels stabilize again. If your PMS or PMDD is seriously impacting your everyday life, please reach out to your doctor for help. You don't need to suffer.
Anxiety Before Your Period
One reason you may be feeling relief with the onset of your period is due to the anxiety that can arise as part of the luteal phase. Anxiety is often a symptom of too little progesterone. You’ll find 12 ways to reduce anxiety before your period in this article, but here are a couple of things that have helped my patients, in addition to what you’ll find below.
PhosphatidylSerine is an amino acid that helps bring cortisol into balance by supporting the body’s natural rhythm, which is why it is best taken at night. We’ve included this amino acid, along with other nutrients that support healthy progesterone and cortisol levels at the right time in our Adrenal Calm formula.
Inhale to the count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 4. Congratulations, you just did a round of box breathing that can help calm the nervous system and lower anxiety.
Eating magnesium rich foods (click the link for a list) and considering 300 mg nightly may help improve moods and promote healthy sleep.
Vitex (chaste tree berry)
If you’re low on progesterone, this little herb may be one of your greatest allies. We have a Vitex guide that goes over all the details, but in short, it helps your body do its job in making the mood calming progesterone you need. I generally recommend it as part of our Balance Women’s Hormone Support formula.
@drjolenebrighten If these are the tips you’re looking for, check the LaNK in my bio for dosages of the supplements mentioned + how to give your hormones the love they need to keep your #mood in check! If you’re feeling the problem is you once a month, it might actually be your hormones. Your brain has receptors for your #hormones. So yes, your hormones can influence your #neurotransmitters and therefore, your mood. Check that article I mentioned for #menstrualcycle hormone #moodtips! #moodboost #hormonehealth ♬ Anti-Hero – Taylor Swift
Support Your Mood Throughout Your Menstrual Cycle
Small shifts in mood don't necessarily mean something's wrong (because life happens), but they can be tough to deal with. If you're struggling with your mood during your cycle, there are a few things you can try to help.
- Get enough sleep. Being tired makes everything feel harder. Plus, lack of sleep can increase cortisol and worsen PMS symptoms. If you are having a hard time with sleep, start by ensuring your sleep environment is set up for success. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet, and try to disconnect from screens an hour before bedtime.
If you wake up at 3 am and can't get back to sleep, chances are your adrenals need a little love. You can try a nourishing adrenal supplement that includes ingredients like Ashwagandha or magnesium (both are also helpful for hormones).
- Eat a blood sugar-balancing diet. Ever seen a child after eating too much sugar and no protein, fat or fiber to accompany? Adults aren't so different. Foods that don’t keep us full, but instead signal a spike in insulin, can wreak havoc on hormones. When blood sugar is all over the place, so are our moods. Diet is so important for even energy levels and mood. Blood sugar balance is especially crucial for hormone balance and mood.
Bump up the fiber and protein at each meal and snack to help stabilize blood sugar. Add healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts, which are all great for hormone balance, and limit simple carbs and sugary foods, which can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. You can grab a free meal plan and set of recipes here to help you get started.
- Reduce stress. Stress can make every symptom feel worse, so finding ways to relax is essential. If you're feeling overwhelmed, try a few stress-relieving techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. In fact, stress can mess your periods, ovulation, and certainly be culprit in mood swings.
Supplements to nourish the adrenals work here too, like Ashwagandha, Passion flower, magnesium, or L-Theanine. You’ll find this blend in our Adrenal Calm formula, which is the perfect bedtime companion.
- Exercise. Movement promotes those feel-good endorphins to mitigate stress and boost your mood. Just find what you love and do it, whether going for a walk outside, taking a yoga class, or dancing around your living room. If you feel like your mood is low, get outside and walk. Walking is an unsung hero in the mood elevating conversation. If you’re feeling anxious, try to move big muscles with some jump squats, lunges, or even just squat at your desk. If you’re in the two hour window before bed, stretch, do a gentle yoga routine, and practice your deep breathing. This will promote quality sleep and help you calm the mind before bed—you know, that time when the “to-do list goblins” try to get us.
- Connect with friends or loved ones. Social support is one of the most important factors in overall well-being. When we feel connected to others, we have an increased sense of belonging, worthiness, and gratitude. So reach out to your people when you're feeling down—even if it's just a text or phone call. And if you feel at a loss for a reliable social network, try a new hobby, join a class, go to the gym, find a moms group, or engage in community service programs.
And of course, if you're struggling with severe mood changes, always reach out to your healthcare provider.
Mood and Menstrual Cycle: Key Takeaways
Your menstrual cycle and period can clearly affect your mood. Hormone balance is key to feeling better before, during, and after your period. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress can help. Exercise and mood-supporting supplements may also be helpful.
If you struggle with hormone balance and aren't sure where to start, check out my free Hormone Kit filled with recipes, a meal plan, and the resources you need to better understand and take care of your hormones.
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