Mood swings are probably the most stereotypical hormonal symptom out there. Indeed many people think PMS is synonymous with moody. While we may have a laugh about it and low key blame our snappiness on our upcoming period, for some women the mood swings are anything but funny.
Talking to a friend a few days ago, she was recalling a time when her hormones were messing with her mood so much that she’d end up in ridiculous arguments with her partner threatening to break up with him if he didn’t agree with her extreme demands.
On the other end of the spectrum many women experience sadness, anxiety or a sense of overwhelm so strong that they can’t carry on with their lives until the hormonal phase is over. Mental health is a serious topic, so we’ve put together a wee guide for you to start deciphering what might be behind your mood swings, and what you can do about it.
If you are...
Irritable and emotional and have heavy periods, possibly with clots (fibroids).
This could be a sign of a couple of imbalances linked with oestrogen.
Firstly, your oestrogen levels may be high leading to symptoms of oestrogen dominance. When our oestrogen levels creep up higher (or they are just higher in relation to our progesterone levels) our bodies tell us that something isn’t right by delivering symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Heavy and/or periods
- Weight gain
Secondly, these signs could be a flag of poor oestrogen metabolism. Our bodies metabolise (process) our hormones through our livers when we are finished using them. There are three different pathways your oestrogen can travel down: 2-OH-E1, 4-OH-E1 and 16-OH-E1.
The first one, 2-OH-E1, is considered more friendly and anti-inflammatory. The other two are considered more inflammatory and can lead to the symptoms of high oestrogen or oestrogen dominance listed above.
The good news here is that the crazy person you feel like when you’re in this high oestrogen place isn’t really you. Your oestrogen levels are directing the show, and there are things you can do to support a more balanced approach.
Some tips if this sounds like you:
- Eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and cabbage are super powerful in supporting balanced oestrogen levels. These veggies contain a nutrient called DIM which is great at mopping up excess oestrogen.
- Flaxseeds are a phytoestrogenic food, and can encourage healthy oestrogen metabolism.
- Cut down on the wines! Alcohol puts extra strain on the liver, which may be busy trying to process your excess oestrogen safely.
If you are...
Feeling sad and anxious, and have light, short periods that may be irregular.
This picture may be linked to low oestrogen levels.
Oestrogen helps to build a nice cushion-y lining in the uterus, so that if your egg is fertilised when you ovulate, it has a nice comfy environment to grow in. So if oestrogen is low you may not be building up much of a lining, and therefore might not have much to shed during your period.
Some other signs of low oestrogen are:
- Low sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
- Moodiness or sadness
Oestrogen has a nice relationship with one of our happy neurotransmitters; serotonin. So when oestrogen is low it can have a knock on effect on this brain chemical making us feel anxious or down. Again, it’s not you. It’s just your body’s way of telling you that it might need a hand.
If this sounds like you, here are some tips:
- Being phytoestrogenic, flaxseeds are also great for supporting building oestrogen levels up if they a little low.
- Maca powder is an adaptogenic herb that, along with supporting stress management, can also be powerful in supporting oestrogen levels.
- Resistance exercise (e.g. with bodyweight or weights in the gym) has been shown to be support low oestrogen levels to healthily rise. We’re not talking about high intensity here (HIIT, functional workouts or CrossFit), as these types of movement could actually have the opposite effect.
If you are...
Feeling super anxious or moody, and having trouble sleeping; coupled with brown spotting at the start and end of your period.
If this is ringing a bell in your brain you may be dealing with low progesterone.
Progesterone gets released from the corpus luteum after you’ve ovulated around the middle of your cycle. When we get a nice dose of progesterone, this soothing hormone makes us feel nice and chilled and as though life is a-okay. If that dose of progesterone is not sufficient the opposite can happen: anxious feels and as though life is anything but okay.
The brown spotting? This is actually oxidised blood left over from your last cycle.
Other signs of low progesterone can be:
If this sounds familiar, here are some tips:
- Cut out the high intensity workouts. We’re talking CrossFit, HIIT, functional fitness etc. Even if you don’t ‘feel’ stressed, that doesn’t mean your body isn’t under stress from these types of exercise. Progesterone (and ovulation) needs a calm, ‘safe’ environment to thrive and high intensity workouts don’t always provide that.
- Say sayonara to your coffee. We know you love it, but your progesterone doesn’t.
- Load up on B6-filled foods. Eggs, turkey or chicken and legumes all contain this nice nutrient. So does BePure One.
Low progesterone is often seen coupled with either high or low oestrogen. So depending on whether either of the oestrogen pictures above sounded familiar to you, they could also be part of the picture. Hormones don’t lead, they follow; meaning that if one hormone is unbalanced it’s highly likely other hormones will also become unbalanced.
If none of these quite fit your picture, don’t panic. We’re all unique, and that’s why testing really is the best way to figure out what’s going on inside. You don’t need to put up with your mood swings and anxiety. You can take charge of your health and start making choices that will support you in feeling your best.
Looking for more information? Head over to our FAQs page where you can find out about Eve, what the Eve Hormone Balance Test measures, when the best time to test your hormones is, and more.