Cycles and Relationships: Why your partner should know your cycle

Couple with phone

Tracking her cycle is an essential part of a women’s overall general health awareness. It should be as natural and as automatic as your daily skin routine, morning coffee or brushing your teeth before bed. Monitoring your menstrual cycle is not just about knowing when your period is due so that you can be prepared, it is about viewing your cycle as a daily hormonal fluctuation which influences you, both physically and mentally. Hormones vary during the different phases of your cycle and this has a direct influence on your behavior and appearance.

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But what does this have to do with your relationship? And why should your partner have any interest in your cycle? Well, the most obvious answer to that is PMS and the mood swings, physical ailments and general chaos that it can cause, but there are other, perhaps more subtle, hormonal influences at other times in your cycle too.

Graph of Hormones in a female cycle plus different moods associated with the different phases


Here is what you should be looking out for:

Week 1 – Chocolate bars earn brownie points

Oestrogen levels are low at the beginning of your cycle, this in combination with your period can make you tired, achy and cranky. Towards the end of the week your oestrogen levels are rising which will improve your mood and physical strength. This is the week of your period so an understanding partner with a hot water bottle and a bar of chocolate can earn a lot of brownie points!

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Week 2 – High sex drive

As oestrogen levels rise in week 2 your mood should improve along with your energy levels, making you more sociable and happier. You are energetic, confident and feeling strong. Not only do you feel more attractive - you look it too, subtle shifts in tissue making your face more symmetrical. Studies have shown that the higher levels of oestrogen in the first half of the menstrual cycle improve spatial awareness, imagination, memory and social skills. Use this information to your advantage!

Another good tip is that high estrogen levels are also said to trigger pain masking endorphins in the brain, making this a good time to visit the dentist or get your legs waxed.

Your testosterone levels are also up this week which makes you more competitive and daring. As you are approaching ovulation your libido is increasing and when your testosterone levels spike, so too does your libido. That is information that your partner almost certainly wants to hear!

On the downside, high oestrogen can also sometimes lead to anxiety and stress – be prepared; plan some mindfulness, sport, or whatever you do to chill out.

Week 3 – Feeling extra emotional

After ovulation the levels of oestrogen fall and the levels of progesterone rise. This oestrogen dip can cause irritability and fatigue although it is only a temporary drop and these feelings should only last a couple of days. Rising levels of progesterone however can make you feel tired, quiet and perhaps a little bit emotional. At this stage in your cycle your body is preparing for a possible pregnancy (you are between ovulation and menstruation) and wants you to eat for two, you are hungry and crave high calorie foods. If you don’t eat regularly you might experience a drop in blood sugar, another fun symptom of higher levels of progesterone, leaving you moody and drained.

On the plus side the combination of oestrogen and progesterone means you are burning calories more efficiently when you exercise – this is a good time to lace up your sports shoes.

Although your libido is dropping you might be feeling more loving and emotionally close to your partner. Plan romantic films and cuddles on the couch.

Week 4 – Watch out for PMS symptoms

Oestrogen is plunging and with it your mood. If you suffer from PMS then this is the time of the month to watch out for familiar symptoms. Not all women suffer from PMS and it can be influenced by lifestyle and nutrition. Some women only have occasional symptoms and others only very mild ones. One of the big advantages of tracking your cycle is being able to recognize these symptoms and patterns and therefore being better prepared to deal with them.

The combination of dropping oestrogen levels and relatively stable progesterone levels lead to food cravings; an effort to get our “happy hormone” (seratonins)levels up again. Thankfully the same hormonal combination increases our ability to burn fat during exercise in the days before menstruation.

That’s a lot of fluctuating hormones! What is a partner supposed to do with all that information? As with most areas in life, it’s the little things that count. Heating up a hot water bottle when you are curled up with cramps in week 1. Planning a party for week 2 when you are at your most attractive and feeling fabulous phase. Handing you a tissue in week 3 when you get emotional while watching a movie. Stocking up on ice-cream/chocolate/(add your comfort food here) in week 4 in preparation for the cravings to come. Whether it’s holding you back from the chocolate cake in week 3 or serving that same cake with whipped cream in week 4 it’s the understanding that will make you love them all the more.

A good first step to getting to know your cycle is to download the femSense app and start tracking your cycle. If you want to know exactly when you ovulate you can order the sensor patches directly from the app or from the femSense website. Let us do all the hard work for you!

Sources:

https://www.myhormonology.com

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180806-how-the-menstrual-cycle-changes-womens-brains-every-month

https://www.fairview.org/patient-education/85704