Your menstrual cycle has a butterfly effect that impacts so many parts of your life. We’ve already covered how it can affect your sex life (read it here!), but what about everything else? From food habits, to relationships, here are a few more things to consider when it comes to your period and beyond.
We’ve all succumbed to the call of the chocolate in the cupboard during our period! The craving struggle is real, and a 2016 study suggests food cravings come thanks to hormones, particularly the ones at play during the luteal phase. Not only do we often crave more food, but we crave specific foods due to hormones like leptin which affect taste sensitivity. This means we tend to lean towards the sugary, carby, salty variety.
One study suggests that people eat more food per day in the 10 days after they ovulate, than during the 10 days before, and food cravings typically happen around 7-10 days before your period begins, just in time to run parallel with other PMS symptoms like changing bowel habits, headaches, acne, bloating and more. Great timing, hormones! All these things make you less likely to stick to a healthy diet, and instead, seek out comfort food in the name of making yourself feel better.
Plan ahead by having healthy alternatives in the cupboards, and don’t be hard on yourself by denying cravings - remember your mental health is just as important.
It’s perfectly safe to exercise during your period. If you lose a lot of blood each month then you may want to rest more, in order to let your body replenish before doing any strenuous exercise, but for the most part, being active is encouraged during your period. The problem is, most of us probably won’t feel like it.
One study found people who exercised 3 days a week for at least 30 minutes had less menstrual pain than those who didn’t, so exercise during and before a period could actually reduce symptoms. It’s also been known to reduce fatigue and improve mood, so if you often find yourself suffering from low mood during certain points in your cycle, incorporating a little exercise can be a good thing.
If you follow a training regime, you may wish to continue with this throughout the month, and of course there are no medical reasons to say you shouldn’t. However, you may notice your energy fluctuates during the month. If that’s the case, it’s best to work around this instead of powering through it. A great example of this in action is Chelsea Women’s Football Club, who in 2020, became the first team to tailor their training schedule around the players’ own menstrual cycles, and as a result, were able to improve performance and reduce injury rates - genius!
Don’t worry about sticking rigidly to your training schedule throughout your cycle. Switch it up and keep it gentle when you’re feeling less than your normal, active self.
Partners everywhere will be dying to weigh in on this one! If you get PMS and find yourself moody at times, then you may notice this affecting relationships with your significant other, friends, or family members in some way. Symptoms of PMS include everything from increased anxiety to low mood and depression to diminished self-esteem, so it’s no wonder this can spill over into your relationships, or even the person you are dating, if you are single.
You’re not going crazy; it’s all in the hormones. Studies have found that our emotional and sexual attraction to a partner could change throughout the menstrual cycle, so if you find yourself intensely irritated by your other half, don’t worry about it!
Understanding your pattern of emotions and anticipating the changes can help you figure out your feelings and pre-emptively avoid rifts in your relationships.
Just as our cycle impacts everything else, it’s naturally going to have some effect on the place many of us spend half our life - our job. While some find it difficult to continue working as normal, others believe that learning about your own cycle and anticipating how you will feel at certain points can be hugely beneficial. It helps us preempt PMS symptoms and anything that will potentially impact our performance, but also maximise the times when we are more productive and efficient.
By paying attention to our diet, exercise, and stress management, we can help improve our body’s ability to cope with the changes in hormones, and even take more advantage of what they offer us. When it comes to productivity, hormonal fluctuations can make a big difference as they change your brain’s energy levels and functionality. This essentially means you should cut yourself some slack during the times you are experiencing PMS symptoms or bleeding, and focus on working hard during the times you have the most energy.
Remember, if your period is impacting your daily life and preventing you from going to work or getting anything done, you should consult your GP to see if anything can be done to limit such severe symptoms.
There are many lifestyle factors affected by your menstrual cycle, and knowing what to eat, how to exercise, and how to navigate symptoms can be overwhelming. Yoppie is all about period care designed for real life (not just your TOTM), and we recently announced the exciting launch of our range of highly-targeted, symptom specific supplements that will help you be your best self through the full month.
Do you find that your menstrual cycle affects any of the above areas of your life - positively or negatively? Chat to us over at our private Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised menstrual cycle care subscription box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements, and much more. delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox.
Dehnavi Z, Jafarnejad F, Kamali Z. The Effect of aerobic exercise on primary dysmenorrhea: A clinical trial study. J Educ Health Promot 2018; 7: 3.
Shimoda R, Campbell A, Barton RA. Women’s emotional and sexual attraction to men across the menstrual cycle. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arx124.
Walsh S, Ismaili E, Naheed B, et al. Diagnosis, pathophysiology and management of premenstrual syndrome. Obstet Gynaecol 2015; 17: 99–104.
Fact checked by Doctor Brooke Vandermolen.
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