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Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.
Written on 11/23/20
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body, taking care of complex processes like metabolism, growth, and fertility. In addition to influencing your reproductive system, they also impact your behavior. They can dictate your energy and mood, making you feel happy and upbeat on some days, then irritated and moody on others. What gives?
During your cycle, there are two main hormones at odds: estrogen and progesterone. They are equally important and each has their own time to shine! If you feel on a high during days 1-14 of your cycle (the follicular phase) or a bit off on days 15-28 (the luteal phase) of your cycle, you may be experiencing the effects of estrogen and progesterone.
For starters, estrogen is a hormone released by ovaries once you have achieved puberty. The hormone is secreted with each monthly menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels tend to rise during the follicular phase, triggering the release of an egg for ovulation and thickening the uterine lining in preparation for implantation. After ovulation, estrogen levels drop.
Progesterone is the other hormone that works to balance the effects of estrogen in your body. This hormone is produced after ovulation and dominates the luteal phase. The main job of progesterone is to stabilize the uterine lining and make it “sticky” enough to receive an egg.
Long story short, estrogen is the star during the first half of your menstrual cycle, and progesterone is the queen during the luteal phase of the cycle.
Estrogen is the star during the first half of your cycle and progesterone is the queen during the second half.
So, how do you know if you have adequate levels of estrogen or progesterone or if your hormones are out of balance? Here, we have listed a few common symptoms to help you out:
Symptoms of low estrogen: painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, mood swings, breast tenderness, depression, headaches, irregular menstrual cycle
Symptoms of high estrogen: weight gain, depression, uterine fibroids, PMS, fatigue, changes in your cycle
Symptoms of high progesterone levels: fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness, moodiness
Symptoms of low progesterone levels: weight gain, fibroids, decreased libido, depression, mood swings, gallbladder problems
As you can see, a lot of these symptoms overlap among themselves. If you suspect your hormone levels may be out of balance, we recommend consulting your doctor who can perform further hormone testing.
Estrogen is one of the main hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle of a woman. Healthy and balanced estrogen levels optimize the production of neurotransmitters, making you feel good throughout the month. However, problems may start when estrogen levels are out of balance.
When your body produces higher quantities of estrogen relative to progesterone, this can lead to a condition called estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance can lead to mood swings and irritability.
Too little estrogen
When your body produces too little estrogen, you end up feeling confused and depressed. Low estrogen levels in your body also interfere with critical thinking, short term memory, and other cognitive functions.
These problems often worsen during perimenopause when estrogen levels fluctuate noticeably, and during menopause when the hormone takes a dip and stays low.
When estrogen levels are higher in relation to progesterone levels, this can lead to a condition called estrogen dominance.
Estrogen is responsible for increasing testosterone and cortisol levels. As a result, when your estrogen levels are high, you feel energetic and energized. This is the reason that you may feel the best during the first half of the cycle.
When you are feeling energized from high estrogen levels, you might like to use it to your advantage and get some exercise. Running, speed walking, or any kind of cardio is perfect when your estrogen levels are high. Additionally, if you feel like lifting weights estrogen enhances your strength.
Also known as nature’s anti-anxiety hormone, progesterone has a more calming effect than estrogen. This hormone protects your nerves, helps the brain reflex, and supports myelin that protects neurons.
As a result, when progesterone levels are in sync with estrogen, sleep is promoted. You’ll likely feel calm and peaceful. But when this hormone goes out of control, progesterone effects lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, brain fog, and sleepless nights.
When progesterone levels are in sync with estrogen, sleep is promoted. You’ll also likely feel calm and peaceful.
Progesterone is released during the luteal phase, after ovulation — days 16-28 in a 28-day cycle. During this time, your energy levels are low. The luteal phase is when you should invest your time in calming, reflective activities to boost your well-being.
We will highly recommend you try yoga to deal with the progesterone effects. Yoga is a perfect fit when progesterone levels are high, and can help relax the muscles and lower cortisol levels.
You may also like performing other activities that keep you calm like cooking, painting, and singing – anything that relaxes you inside-out.
Your hormones are not only important to fertility, but they also keep various other important processes in check. Promoting a healthy hormone balance is vital to living a healthy life!