Aside from some perks – sometimes slightly bigger breasts, and confirmation that you’re not involuntarily pregnant – there is no shortage of downsides.
Periods are never fun.
From cramps to mood swings to break-outs to exhaustion, most women dread the menstrual and luteal (pre-menstrual stress) phases of their cycle.
But there is no period more painful and arduous than the one that comes in January, according to Alisa Vitti, a nutritionist and hormone specialist.
Poor sleep and gluttonous diets in December mean most women see a huge drop in their micronutrient levels, and a more intense period in January, says hormone expert Alisa Vitti
‘It’s a pattern I’ve observed over the past two decades,’ Vitti, founder of hormone advice center Flo Living, explained to Daily Mail Online.
‘Over the holidays, there are so many things which disrupt our endocrine system, leading up to that January period.
‘Many of us are traveling, you have disrupted sleep because of all the parties and family events, you’re also trying to finish things up at work which is stressful.
‘On top of that you’re eating a lot of sugar and carbs, which are endocrine-disruptive.
‘All of that is depleting the levels of essential micronutrients you need in your body to balance your hormes.
‘By the time you reach January, your hormone system is way more off-balance than usual, which means PMS and cramps are much worse.’
Vitti added: ‘This is precisely the time that you want to start the year fresh and when you’re feeling this way it’s really hard.
‘You shouldn’t expect garden variety PMS, expect it to be worse in January.’
THE 4 PERIOD PHASES
Phase one: menstruation
Once menstruation starts, most women feel a sense of relief.
In the days before, it is common to feel tense, irritable, and bloated, with pelvic pain, bad skin and sore breasts.
This hormonal shift typically makes women feel tired.
Phase two: follicular
This is the stage when women tend to feel fantastic.
As estrogen levels rise, so too does a woman’s libido and energy.
For about 10 days (time length varies from person to person), women tend to feel particularly attractive and strong.
It is called the ‘follicular phase’ because it is when the follicles in a woman’s ovaries get the eggs ready for release.
This happens because the pituitary gland releases Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH), which stimulates the follicles to mature.
Phase three: ovulation
Ovulation happens in the middle of your cycle – 14 days before your period starts.
It can happen anywhere between day 12 and day 16 of a woman’s cycle.
This stage is when mature eggs are released and pushed down the fallopian tube to be fertilized by sperm.
The egg is available for fertilization for about 12 to 24 hours. Sperm can survive in the uterus for up to five days.
Women are at their most active in this stage – and their sex drive is at its peak.
Phase four: luteal
This phase is long. The first two days will feel good. The rest is the hardest bit of the entire cycle.
Essentially, your uterus is being prepared for a possible pregnancy and the lining of your uterus becomes thicker.
Estrogen and testosterone levels plummet, and the body produces more progesterone, an anti-anxiety hormone that will make you feel calm and tranquil, as if you want to rest.
Then is the tough stage.
Pre-menstrual stress (PMS), cramps, headaches, break-outs, pain, lethargy, anger, tender breasts, weak legs, intense hunger – it all happens at this point.