While we'd hate ever to admit something like our monthly cycle impacting our ability to do our jobs, the truth is that this is sometimes very much the case.
Menstrual cycles are divided into various phases. Depending on the phase of the cycle, hormonal influences can have profound impact on a woman's daily life.
“In relation to the work/productivity aspect of a woman's monthly, the best time or the most 'feeling good time' for a woman during her cycle would be during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. This begins on the initiation of your period and lasts approximately 10-14 days. Hormonally speaking, FSH (or follicle stimulating hormone) is being secreted, which causes follicular stimulation to be created in the ovaries," says Dr. Kecia Gaither, a double board-certified OBGYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine physician.
It's during this point in the cycle that women are energetic and our minds are the most clear. If there is some project that needs to be taken care of, this is the time of the month to make it happen.
Now, let's discuss the luteal phase of the cycle. This is when the hormone progesterone begins to rise, causing the lining of the uterus to thicken in preparation for menses. “The progesterone also influences the production of another hormone, cortisol—which can cause irritability. In the latter part of the cycle, women can experience mood swings, insomnia, breast tenderness, bloating, and decreased concentration.
This is also the point in the cycle where those salt/sugar cravings present themselves," says Dr. Gaither. In relation to work life balance, the latter part of a woman's cycle may not be the best time to undertake any project that requires substantial diligence to bring it to fruition.
Now, if in the workplace there tends to be a majority of women in close proximity to each other, there might be a menstrual synchrony. “Simply, women working together can have their cycles occur roughly at the same time each month. While the scientific data is inconclusive as to whether this really exists, anecdotally speaking, most women working together can attest to its existence," says Dr. Gaither.
This myth may have since been disproven, but considering women's cycles in the workplace can be a prudent move either way. Especially considering the continuing anecdotable belief in the idea of period syncing. So, if a big work related event is happening and everyone's input is needed, waiting until the latter half of everyone's cycle might be nice.
Yes, women are affected by the changing hormone levels of our menstrual cycles. But different women are affected in different ways, so it's really not possible to say with absolute certainty that one specific time of month is more or less productive. “For most women, these changes are subtle rather than dramatic. And most importantly, while an individual woman may be able to discern certain patterns about herself based on where she is in her cycle, those patterns tend to be individual rather than universal. For example, high progesterone levels during your luteal phase may cause you to feel really down in the dumps, but for someone else, that same hormonal change causes them to feel relaxed and well-rested," says Lea von Bidder, co-founder of Ava, a cycle-tracking sensor bracelet that uses new technology to precisely detect a woman's fertile window in real time.
One more thing to keep in mind: many women are on hormonal birth control, and absolutly none of this stuff holds true when that is the case. “You don't have a real cycle with hormonal birth control, meaning you would not experience any of the changes throughout the month that occur with a natural cycle," says von Bidder.
There are uncommon cases where periods affect productivity. “Some women experience extreme pain, discomfort, and other physical symptoms around their period. This is not very common, it's a disorder, and it can usually be resolved by taking hormonal birth control," says von Bidder.
This piece was originally published on April 12, 2017.
It is terrifying when you do not have all the answers, especially when you are a parent and your children are looking to you for safety.
We are living in a very chaotic time due to the fear of the unknown while a feeling of powerlessness and despair creeps over us. Some of us have many questions while others are not sure what to ask or what to do during this difficult period. The issue is that human beings seek comfort and once they receive that comfort, they either experience life lessons, are destined to repeat patterns until they learn from the lesson, or never understand the lesson at all.
While in crisis mode, we have the opportunity to recognize how to make improvements in our lives, but once the crisis is over, we often return to our typical behaviors such as disconnecting from face-to-face communication and quality time to focusing on technology and "socializing" online with strangers. As we are currently being asked to avoid unnecessary trips outside, the universe is asking us to go inward and identify areas in need of our attention that we have been neglecting. Now comes the test of our inner abilities of adapting and handling change as well as dealing with being out of control and powerless. We are going back to an era where family is a necessity for survival. Some families will break down further, while other families will rise to the occasion and hopefully work through their differences by focusing on what is most important to them.
Bear in mind that panicking is not equivalent to being prepared. Fear can result in illness. We highly recommend that you utilize this time wisely. First, it is imperative to do what we call a "self-check-in," to identify personal concerns and worries in order to avoid instilling those fears in your children and others. Once identifying your personal concerns, fears, thoughts, and feelings, we recommend that each household establishes routine family meetings with age-appropriate information. Prior to providing information to your children, we recommend asking them what they have already heard, what they are thinking and feeling, and whether they have any questions they would like to ask prior to adding more to their plate.
From there, you can provide a general overview of the situation such as stating, "There is an illness going around. Many will recover as there are many helpful nurses and doctors but some will have it worse than others, so it is important to be careful not to spread germs." An overview of proper handwashing would be beneficial as well as teaching ways to interact with others while promoting social distancing, i.e., staying six feet away from one another, waving hello rather than shaking hands, etc.
It is important for children to have guidance and the facts as well as a safe place to share their own concerns and fears. When researching answers to questions that you or your children may have, utilize credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as additional .gov and .org sources. Be mindful of overexposure for children, as the media can sensationalize these situations. Keep in mind that even adults can be overexposed to the chaos, so take breaks from the news for your own well-being. Some healthy ideas for taking breaks would involve quality family time such as: playing board games, building an indoor fort, reading, doing a puzzle together, cooking a meal, exercising, going for a walk, drawing or painting, etc. Children can also be encouraged to identify creative and healthy activities that they would like to do on their own as well as with their siblings, parents, and additional family members.
Should you want to process your concerns and fears with a professional, we highly recommend that you reach out to local therapists and mental health/family therapy centers in your area, as many have established telehealth sessions to accommodate the needs of the public.
This piece was cowritten by Hara Wachholder.
Hara Wachholder is a licensed mental health counselor with the State of Florida and received her master's degree in counseling from Nova Southeastern University. It was after the resolution of the long-winded custody battle between her parents that Hara recognized her calling to help others going through the same struggle. Hara Wachholder is currently the clinical director for a family therapy center located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Karen Kaye, LMHC and Hara Wachholder, LMHC are a mother-daughter team of therapists as well as coauthors of My Parents Are Getting a Divorce . . . I Wonder What Will Happen to Me, an interactive discussion book that helps provide a bridge of understanding between parents and their children based on the personal and professional experience from the authors. The book creates a safe space for children to share their innermost thoughts and feelings while also teaching healthy coping skills for children to empower themselves during a chaotic and confusing time in their lives. The goal is to take children out of the middle and provide them with a voice as well as the tools that will allow them to grow into healthy, balanced individuals. For further information, please visit www.imstillmebook.com.