Remember when you were basically a teenager, and PMS was something you joked about but rarely experienced outside of the occasional bout of menstrual cramps and cravings for Doritos?
Then, sometime in your 20s, PMS became a very real monster that you began to dread more than your period itself.
The adjustment to this new reality was tough. You may have asked yourself if your body was punishing you for something, and you probably seriously wished you could've been born a man.
Well, if all of that rings true for you, I have some more bad news: You're in for six more of these hormonal phases in your lifetime, and they'll affect WAY more than just your mood and your period.
So, strap in because womanhood is a bumpy-ass ride.
Phase 1: Puberty (ages 13 to 21)
Puberty is a time when the menstrual cycle is fairly irregular simply because it takes many years for the body to build up a concentration of hormones.
This explains why so many women experience little to no PMS symptoms, until their adult menstrual years.
Phase 2: Adult Menstrual Years (ages 21 to 35)
To be perfectly blunt about it, this is when shit gets real.
Exposure to caffeine, alcohol, drugs, etc. can have a huge influence on your hormones and may cause changes in your premenstrual symptoms.
Acne, headaches, body aches and mood swings are in full effect, or you may just experience a continuation of the symptoms you experienced in puberty.
Either way, now is a good time to focus on preserving your fertility.
And if you know you definitely don't want children, this is still a good time to focus on eliminating the symptoms of PMS by working out and limiting your intake of unhealthy foods and substances that affect your hormones.
Phase 3: Pregnancy (age varies)
Obviously, pregnancy is a hormonal roller coaster ride through hell for whoever embarks upon the journey.
That said, the degree of difficulty you go through depends upon how well you manage your hormonal ups and downs through your adult menstrual years.
Phase 4: Postpartum (age varies)
After pregnancy begins the postpartum period, which lasts for about six weeks.
Estrogen and progesterone (the cozy nesting hormone) drop significantly after pregnancy, as the body and uterus specifically return to a non-pregnant state.
Also a fun fact: Between 11 to 20 percent of new mothers may experience postpartum depression (PPD) at this time, with a higher risk associated with women who have a history with clinical depression.
Because an unhealthy diet can also have an effect on our moods, eating right is also something to keep in mind now.
Phase 5: Perimenopause Part One (ages 35 to 45)
This phase starts at 35 no matter what, but the good news is, you may not feel any symptoms at all if you're healthy.
At this stage, your body will still be on its normal cycle, your skin will be healthy and you should have great muscle tone, unless you have an unhealthy lifestyle.
Your body will give you clues (through hormonal changes) as to what areas of your health you may have been neglecting. So, make sure to pay attention.
These changes may cause vaginal dryness (ugh), wrinkles and dry hair.
It also becomes more difficult to get pregnant as you get older, as evidenced by shorter menstrual cycles.
Phase 6: Perimenopause Part Two (ages 45 to 55)
Part two of perimenopause is marked by two or more skipped periods.
When you think you'll never get a period again, suddenly one will show up. One flow can be light, and the next one heavy.
You'll start to experience hot flashes, which can be characterized by bouts of sweatiness, clammy palms and overall bursts of rising body temperature.
There also may be times of high estrogen levels, which means increased energy.
PMS symptoms and cramps decrease after your final period, but during the year after, they sometimes occur without any subsequent flow.
Breast sensitivity, fluid excretion and mood swings are all symptoms that decrease.
Sounds like fun, right?
Phase 7: Post-menopause (ages 55 and up)
Think of this as a plane coming in for a landing.
Not in terms of, like, being closer to death, but as a decrease in the bothersome symptoms that your hormones have put you through your entire life.
Post-menopause is a time to focus on eating foods that have a high concentration of nutrients because during this phase, your body is more at risk for diseases like osteoporosis and heart disease, due to lower levels of estrogen.
It seems the only constant throughout these phases is a healthy diet, and that by taking care of yourself through all of your life stages, you can in fact alleviate — or even eliminate — the symptoms of many of these phases.
While we may sometimes feel cursed to be women, with a little info, it is possible to live in harmony with our hormones.