In our new series, There’s A Podcast Episode For That, we dig deep into the podcast archives to find the best answers for some of life’s biggest questions. This week, we share the best podcast episode for anyone who’s trying to make sense of how their period affects their sexual desire.
I like to think that I know everything I need to know about periods. I am an educated, adult woman who’s had regular periods for well over 15 years, after all. But the truth is that my period still surprises, worries and frustrates me in new ways each time we meet. One thing that really catches me out is the rollercoaster of moods I experience on my period cycle: one minute I feel too sexy and confident for the men of this world, the next I want to stay in bed all day because I feel drained and crappy.
That’s why I recently plugged into Maisie Hill’s new podcast, Period Power – and I am getting a much-needed education.
Hill – who is an acupuncturist, a certified life coach, and the author of Period Power – created the podcast to help people being held back by their hormones get a handle on their menstrual cycle, and use their periods to get what they want from life. This speaks to me, a lot of my friends, and my colleagues, massively.
And for all those questions we have about how our hormones affect our moods, the first episode of Period Power has the answers many of us didn’t realise we really needed…
Period Power With Maisie Hill: Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle
Firstly, it’s worth noting that what Hill explains doesn’t apply to everybody: your cycle and hormones are unique. However, it’s likely that a lot of women will relate to what she goes into.
Your menstrual hormones massively affect your behaviours
“The aim [of your cycle] is to conceive and reproduce – regardless of whether that’s something you even want or not,” Hill says before detailing what this does to our hormones and external behaviour. “At the start of your cycle [when your period starts] hormone levels are low, which along with the many symptoms you might experience while your bleeding, can help explain why you don’t have much energy, and maybe want to hide away from the world.”
There’s a reason why you suddenly feel sexier and more confident during your cycle
“Then oestrogen gets going,” Hill continues. “I like to think of oestrogen as our Beyoncé hormone: confident, alluring, sexy and ready to conquer the world. Oestrogen wants us out there in the world, on the lookout for someone to mate with, and as you move through your first half of the cycle, oestrogen is increasing and piques just before ovulation.”
It all helps to explain why sometimes you just can’t concentrate
“How does this show up in your behaviours?” Hills asks on behalf of us all. “Well maybe you can’t sit still and get your work done? That’s because oestrogen wants you to be out in the world. Listen: your body does not know about swiping left and right. As far as your body is concerned, it’s thinking that you’re unlikely to find somebody to mate with when you’re sitting at your desk. It wants you to move. It wants you out walking around strutting your stuff and looking for someone to hook up with. Perhaps you’re also more talkative because, you know, usually we talk to humans before we mate with them (although that’s not always the case!).”
She adds: “Maybe you’re got some sass going on? Maybe you’re feeling a bit flirtatious. Again, this all helps with the typical human strategy. Our behaviour is helping us take advantage of the fertile window in the cycle when conception is possible.”
But what goes up must come down
Hill says that when you start to ovulate 10-14 days before your period starts, there is a drop off in hormone production, which leaves you feeling tired and sometimes reclusive.
“I can’t tell you how many of my clients have experienced significant relief simply by understanding this,” she says. “Think about it: one day you’re pumped full of oestrogen and testosterone and maybe living your best life, feeling on top of the world – this is when I’m all, ‘Someone hand me my Wonder Woman outfit because I can totally rock some Spandex right now’. And then the next day all the hormones are pretty much nowhere to be seen.
“In this situation, you can find yourself doubting the decisions and actions you took in the previous days – feel depleted and lacking motivation and asking yourself, ‘What the hell happened to Wonder Woman?”
You have every right to take it slowly when your body tells you to
Hill explains how the second half of your cycle, after ovulation, is mostly concerned with progesterone, which is produced because your body thinks it should be supporting contraception and pregnancy: “Though it does lots of other great things for your body too, it slows you the fuck down.
“Oestrogen is all like, ‘Get out in the world, you’re amazing look at how hot you are, go show everyone how amazing you are and have sex while you’re at it!’ Progesterone is all, ‘Hey girlfriend, you better take care of yourself now that you’re ‘knocked up’ you can’t be going out in that big old dangerous world… And hey, why not get some extra calories down there.’
She concludes: “In the run-up to ovulation your hormones want you out in the world and in the second half they want to keep you safe – so you’re more interested in the internal world than the external world. Knowing this will help you understand why you feel less inclined to be social or only interested in being social with those closest to you.”
Listen to the first episode of Period Power With Maisie Hill
Top image: Getty
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…