The ups and downs of women’s hormones
Okay, guys, listen up! We know that you know that women are complex creatures, and that’s one of the things you love about us, right? But sometimes it can be a little overwhelming trying to understand where your lady friend is at, when she’s loving and affectionate one day and Ms Crankypants the next. Over the next three posts we’ll be helping you unravel some of the mysteries of their menstrual cycle, shed some light on PMS, and explain how you can help her through it all….follow along for your sake as much as hers!
First up, we’ll look at the hormonal roller coaster ride women take each and every month. There are three main hormones at play here: oestrogen, luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The menstrual cycle can be split into three phases as each of the hormones peaks and falls to stimulate changes in the ovaries and uterus. Each hormone provides feedback to influence the others – no hormone plays alone.
The first phase features higher levels of FSH, and it’s all there in the name. It stimulates the ovarian follicles, getting them ready to release an egg. As the follicles mature, they secrete increasing levels of oestrogen, which prompts the uterus lining to thicken (proliferate), ready to house the egg if it is fertilised. Oestrogen increases serotonin (the happy hormone) so in this phase women are usually feeling pretty good. So in the ovarian cycle this is called the follicular phase and it corresponds to the proliferation phase in the uterine cycle.
Next up, in the ovaries, we have ovulation. Oestrogen levels hit a peak, and where they were suppressing the luteinising hormone (LH), now they cross a threshold and cause a surge in LH, prompting the release of the mature egg from the ovarian follicles. At this time of the month your lady is likely to look at you with that sparkle in her eye that says she is finding you super attractive! It is typical at this time of the cycle i.e. the middle of the cycle, that she will have lots of energy and a lot more interest in you. Biochemically the body is ready to conceive at this time thus the increase in libido. This is the time to live life to the fullest as you are likely to have a very loving and attentive partner at this time.
Quite often this feeling will only last up until the end of the cycle, the week prior to her period she is likely not to find you quite so attractive as her follicle-stimulating, luteinising and oestrogen hormone levels drop. So this is the time of the month to make plans for a romantic weekend away!