Menstrual Cycle Hormones And Mood

Menstrual cycle, menses, periods, menstruation, or ‘that time of the month’ are different names for the monthly blood discharge that happens in females during their reproductive years. 

There are many hormones responsible for the proper functioning of the menstrual cycle. These hormones play a vital role in our well-being, but they also have some side effects such as mood swings or bloating associated with them. 


Menarche or the first menstrual cycle occurs in girls around 11-16 years old. For some girls, it can start from age 8. Periods last for around 3-7 days, and the average menstrual cycle is 28-40 days.¹ 

Menopause is the duration when the menstrual cycle ends. This happens when a woman is around 45-55 years old.² It lasts for a few years when cycles become irregular with heavy bleeding or spotting.

The menstrual cycle consists of four phases.³ These phases are from day 1-28 of a menstrual cycle. But some women have a 40-day cycle too.

  1. Menstrual phase: This phase, also called bleeding, is from day 1-5. For some women, it may also last up to 7 days. The lining of the uterus, also called the endometrium, is shed along with blood through the vaginal opening. Women lose around 30-80 ml of blood during a normal menstrual cycle.
  2. Follicular phase: This phase is from day 1-13. During this phase, the oestrogen hormone rises, which results in the thickening of the endometrium. Another hormone called the Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is secreted. This hormone is responsible for the growth of egg cells in the ovaries. The egg cells are held in a sac-like structure called the follicle. The egg cells mature in the follicle around the 13th or 14th day and become mature eggs. This mature egg is also called an ovum.
  3. Ovulation: This phase is around the 14th day of the menstrual cycle. Luteinising Hormone (LH) is secreted, which results in the release of an egg from the ovary into the fallopian tube.
  4. Luteal phase: This phase is from day 15-28 of the menstrual cycle. The egg travels to the uterus where it waits for the sperm cells for fertilisation. Progesterone hormone helps to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If the egg is fertilised by the sperm (fertilisation), it gets attached to the uterine wall (implantation) which results in pregnancy. If the egg doesn't meet the sperm, then there is no chance of pregnancy. Now, the level of hormones oestrogen and progesterone decrease. This leads to the uterus shedding its thick lining, causing bleeding. The menstrual cycle then starts again. 

How do menstrual cycle hormones affect your mood? 

  1. Menstrual phase 

During this phase, bleeding occurs from the vagina. Some women bleed heavily, while some experience spotting. A need to change your pad, tampon, or emptying your menstrual cup every 4-8 hours is considered normal during heavy flow days. A need to do this every 1-2 hours is considered heavy bleeding (menorrhagia). 

Oestrogen and progesterone hormones dip sharply, causing the uterine lining to shed.

The physical symptoms experienced during this phase may include menstrual cramps, bloating, and nausea. Cramping is due to prostaglandin, a hormone-like substance.  

  1. Follicular phase 

During this phase, the Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) helps the egg cells to grow into a mature ovum. 

Levels of other hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone start increasing. Oestrogen is linked to serotonin, which is said to brighten the mood. This is the most cheerful or stress-free phase. Some symptoms experienced during this phase are a heightened sense of smell, clear thinking, and increased sex drive. Symptoms vary in women. The levels of progesterone remain low during this phase.

  1. Ovulation 

During this phase, the levels of Luteinising Hormone (LH) start increasing, leading to the release of an egg into the fallopian tube. 

The levels of oestrogen and testosterone peak during this phase, resulting in a further increase in sex drive and good mood. However, some women might experience low moods for a short span of time. Other physical symptoms include acne, tenderness in breasts, or weight gain.

  1. Luteal phase 

During the first half of this phase, the levels of progesterone increase as the body is preparing for pregnancy. Females may experience a good mood during this phase. Some women might feel a bit warm or bloated during this time.

In the second half of this phase, levels of oestrogen and progesterone start decreasing if implantation doesn't happen. Low oestrogen decreases serotonin levels, thus the good mood phase starts to dissipate. This causes a variety of symptoms collectively called Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Anxiety, irritation, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and mood swings are associated with PMS. 

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS. The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are heightened. PMDD results in social and professional life imbalances, so they need to be treated by medical professionals. 

The exact cause of PMS or PMDD is still not known, but lifestyle changes and medications can improve the symptoms over time.⁴,

How to manage your mood during the menstrual cycle 

Most women experience cramps during the menstrual phase, which can be incredibly stressful. Relaxing can help in relieving stress. Medications such as Advil or Tylenol can help ease menstrual cramps. Hot water bags, avoiding caffeine, or drinking herbal teas can also ease cramps.

The luteal phase is likewise a stressful time, potentially bringing with it anxiety, depression, mood swings, and bloating. All of these symptoms fall under PMS, but may be PMDD in more severe cases. 

Lifestyle changes, such as exercising, reducing caffeine intake, reducing stress, eating a balanced diet, avoiding processed foods, refraining from smoking and drinking can ease the symptoms of PMS or PMDD. 

Diet can be a powerful factor in combating the adverse effects of the menstrual cycle. Eating foods rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin B, and iron are good for the menstrual cycle. Iron-rich food such as eggs, green leafy vegetables or lentils are good for replenishing blood lost during the menstrual phase. Magnesium-rich foods such as bananas, salmon, or nuts can also help in easing menstrual cramps. 


The menstrual cycle is a natural process which lays the foundation for pregnancy. All the phases of the menstrual cycle depend on hormone secretion. Hormonal fluctuations are a common occurrence throughout the cycle. PMS and PMDD are incredibly difficult for many women to deal with.

The exact cause of these hormonal fluctuations are unknown. But having a balanced and healthy diet, exercising, and staying away from processed foods and sugars can ease out the troubles to some extent. If these measures don't ease your symptoms, it is better to consult a doctor. Start making a note about your symptoms and keep a track of what food items bring out these changes. These might help your doctor in diagnosing and treating you.


  1. Starting your periods [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from:
  2. Menopause [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from:
  3. Menstrual cycle (Normal menstruation): overview & phases [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from:
  4. Ovulation hormones: here’s how the menstrual cycle phases affect your mood [Internet]. Woman’s Day. 2019 [cited 2022 Dec 24]. Available from:
  5. Brighten DJ. How hormones affect mood throughout your menstrual cycle [Internet]. Dr. Jolene Brighten. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 24]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Simmi Anand

B.Sc. Nuclear Medicine, Manipal University
MBA Healthcare Services, Sikkim Manipal University

An experienced Nuclear Medicine professional with a passion for writing.

She is experienced in dealing with patients suffering from different ailments, mostly cancer.

Simmi took a career break to raise her daughter with undivided attention.

During this time, she fine-tuned her writing skills and started writing stories for her child. Today, Simmi is a published author of 'Story time with proverbs' series for young ones. She also enjoys writing parenting blogs on her website

Simmi hopes to reignite her career as a medical writer, combining her medical knowledge with her zeal for writing to produce informative health articles for her readers.

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