Emotional Changes During the Menstrual Cycle

Emotional changes during the menstrual cycle include irritability, anxiety, or a depressed mood, among others. It's useful to know what they are.
Emotional Changes During the Menstrual Cycle

Last update: 11 October, 2021

The menstrual cycle is a period that consists of several phases and usually lasts for 28 days on average. However, it does vary from woman to woman.

Each phase of the menstrual cycle is subject to a series of biological changes. These changes produce emotional changes in women. These influence both their routines and their relationships with others.

In order to get a general idea of what the menstrual cycle consists of, we’re going to analyze it in stages. Then, we’ll explain the main emotional changes of the menstrual cycle.

Woman sad about emotional changes during menstruation

Stages of the menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle involves two cycles: the ovarian cycle and the uterine cycle. The ovarian cycle refers to changes that occur in the ovaries, and the uterine cycle refers to changes in the uterus. This implies that both cycles take place simultaneously.

Ovarian cycle

This consists of the follicular phase and the luteal phase. During the follicular phase, the ovaries prepare to release the egg. At this stage, various follicles are generated in different stages of maturity. One dominant follicle will remain, which will contain an egg to be released by the ovary.

In the luteal phase, this follicle will become the corpus luteum, and it’ll be accompanied by an increase in estrogen and progesterone. The luteal phase closes the ovarian cycle and the follicular phase begins again.

Uterine cycle

The uterine cycle includes different phases: menses (the period), the proliferative phase, and the secretory phase.

The term

Menses, a term that’s popularly known as a period, implies bleeding that comes from old uterine tissues that are expelled through the vagina.

Proliferative phase

The proliferative phase involves the growth of the inner lining of the uterus to compensate for the loss of tissue expelled during menstruation. After the proliferative phase, ovulation takes place.

Secretory phase

The inner lining of the uterus secretes chemicals necessary to host a pregnancy in the event that the egg is fertilized or shed if fertilization doesn’t take place. The secretory phase closes the uterine cycle and the period begins again.

With so many physiological changes in the body during the menstrual cycle, it’s hardly surprising that this leads to a series of emotional changes in women.

Next, we classify these changes according to whether they’re premenstrual or postmenstrual symptoms since there are variations in hormonal levels between the two.

Premenstrual symptoms

Just before menstruation, estrogens and progesterone are extremely low, leading to a set of characteristic emotional changes:

Irritability

This is considered one of the most frequent changes. In fact, many women recognize it as a sign that their period is imminent.

It’s an extremely easy symptom to detect because it increases the tendency to irritation or anger.

Anxiety

Anxiety is another common symptom. This is because, before menstruation, the body has prepared to develop a possible pregnancy, which involves oscillating hormonal changes.

Depressed mood or fatigue

A depressed mood is also characteristic of the premenstrual period. This is usually associated with a decrease in energy. That’s because the body is allocating a lot of energy to modify the states of the ovum and to detach uterine tissue.

Sleeping problems

Hormonal changes are parallel to changes in the body’s circadian rhythms. They involve alterations of chemical substances that regulate sleep and wakefulness in the body.

In the premenstrual period, these substances are disturbed and can lead to sleep problems or insomnia. Although these aren’t actual emotional alterations, they can originate due to accumulated fatigue.

Woman in bed trying to sleep

Postmenstrual symptoms

The emotional changes during the postmenstrual menstrual cycle aren’t as varied or as frequent. They basically consist of the following:

Increased energy and enthusiasm

After the period of low energy and fatigue, there’s a stage in which there’s an increase in energy in the body. Therefore, the woman experiences a state of increased activity and enthusiasm.

It must be borne in mind that the root of this set of emotional changes is the hormonal alteration experienced by the body.

Depression and fatigue

The alterations we’ve mentioned aren’t only at the level of the ovary or uterus but also connected with the brain. These concern variations in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s closely related to depression, fatigue, or problems falling asleep.

In conclusion, it’s important to know about the menstrual cycle, as well as to have an idea of any symptoms that may occur. Knowing these will help us to understand them and treat them effectively, naturally, and without prejudice.

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  • Gutiérrez-García AG, Contreras CM, Díaz-Meza JL. (2000). Cómo actúa la progesterona sobre el sistema nervioso central. Salud Mental, 23 (2).
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