9 Ways Your Menstrual Cycle Can Affect Your Wellbeing & Mood, According To Experts

That time of the month rolls around... great. That's probably the feeling that resonates with most ladies out there. Unfortunately, periods can affect our moods and well-being, and often not for the better, advised medical experts in interview at Everyday Health. However, understanding the menstrual cycle at large, and how it can affect your mood and wellbeing at different points, can help you better understand your body and how best to work around these swings.

As a certified health coach, and a female, I can attest to period woes. Having a period makes me hungry, moody, bloated, and overall not as fresh, energized, and happy as I would like to be. However, while there are reasons behind why our periods affect our moods and behaviors so much. And there's certainly no reason to sulk and feel miserable without at least trying to shift your perspective, maintain confidence, and just accept your cycles for what it is and move on. It's time for a brighter outlook when the week hits you hard. In the weeks around it, you might even notice feeling peppier and sexier, so try and channel those feelings even when you're dealing with the flow. Here are nine ways that your menstrual cycle can mess with your mind and body and how best to not let it interfere with your ability to feel good and motivated overall.

1. It Can Cause Inflammation

According to Dr. Douglas Bibus, Coromega Scientific Advisory Board Member, via an email to Bustle, our bodies can become inflamed and bloated during a period, and without adequate healthy fats, our moods can suffer. “Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce discomfort and inflammation associated with cramps. They can even decrease other symptoms such as headaches, nausea and fatigue. To reduce period blues, a daily dose of omega-3s can help," Bibus says. "Try Coromega’s Omega-3 Big Squeeze, which provides 3,000 mg of fish oil, in three delicious flavors including, Mango, Lemon and Tropical Orange + D.”

2. It Can Cause Anxiety

According to Dr. Charles Galanis, a Board Certified Surgeon in Chicago, and Robert Dorfman, Research Fellow at Northwestern Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, in an email to Bustle: "Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a group of symptoms, such as anxiety and bloating, that classically occur one to two weeks before menstruation. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it is estimated that 85% of women experience at least one symptoms of PMS per month."

3. It Can Cause Super Intense Mood Swings

"As progesterone levels increase, this is when the female may begin to feel moody, since progesterone may help stimulate cortisol, a stress hormone," say Galanis and Dorfman. However, when we are ovulating, we might be peppier than usual (which is always preferable!), as "the rising levels of estradiol can help tone down the effects of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones), and this may play a role in inducing happy moods," according to Galanis and Dorfman.

4. It Can Cause Soreness

The pain we ladies often feel in our breasts is real. "Breast tenderness during the menstrual cycle is common," say Galanis and Dorfman. So, be gentle! Wearing comfortable bras and perhaps sticking with exercises that don't require much jumping (like choosing yoga and elliptical workouts over running and crossfit, for instance), might help ease the pain.

5. It Can Cause Cravings

The chocolate and pizza cravings are no joke, and luckily there's a reason behind our urges. Galanis and Dorfan point to a study from the Journal of Consumer Psychology showing that "women were more likely to eat high-calorie foods during this progesterone secretory phase of their menstrual cycle." Resisting temptation and trying to eat as many whole foods and healthy, nutritious ingredients as possible can help us minimize these symptoms.

6. It Can Cause Severe Pain

"If you are having severe pain during your period, definitely bring this up to your physician," say Galanis and Dorfman. "It is normal for one to feel discomfort during their period, but it is not normal for there to be pain with menstruation. Dysmenorrhea is a term used to describe painful menstruation, and dysmenorrhea is often associated with endometriosis. Endometriosis presents with dysmenorrhea as well as pelvic pain, and it may cause infertility."

7. Super Heavy Bleeding Can Occur

Heavy bleeding is the worst. However, it could signal a greater problem, and it should be shared with your physician, if so. "Menorrhagia refers to heavy menstrual bleeding, defined as more than 80mL of blood loss or periods lasting longer than 7 days," say Galanis and Dofrman. "However, this heavy bleeding occurs at normal intervals. Menometrorrhagia refers to heavy menstrual bleeding that occurs at irregular intervals. This heavy bleeding can actually cause iron deficiency anemia, which often presents as fatigue and a lack of energy."

8. It Can Not Happen At All

Absent periods can signal greater health problems at large, according to Galanis and Dorfman. "Amenorrhea refers to a complete absence of periods in a woman of reproductive age who is not pregnant or breastfeeding," they say. Some factors can cause an absence in flow, such as excessive exercise, starvation, and low BMI, as well as stresses that can trigger such reactions.

9. It Can Up Sex Drive

During ovulation, we might be more likely to feel sexual and frisky. "Some studies have shown that women are more likely to display sexual behavior before ovulating. Furthermore, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, women may be more likely to purchase clothing and makeup, aka items that make them more attractive, just before ovulation," Galanis and Dorfman say.

No matter how we feel throughout our cycle, whether we're feeling more bitter or peppier than usual, it's important to be in tune with our menstrual cycles and understand how they affect our well-being and mood. Each phase won't last too long, so remaining positive during the lows and riding out the highs is our best bet at happiness long-term.

Images: Pixabay (12); Bustle