Every month, ladies go through a special kind of hell. Our emotions are out of whack, our pants no longer fit and it quite literally feels like some little demon inside us is pounding our uterus with a meat tenderizer.
I'm talking, of course, about our periods. For all of you boys out there who aren't familiar with the full breakdown of a woman's cycle, let me explain it to you.
A woman's cycle lasts 28 days on average. The first few days of the cycle are the days your gal pal is actually “on her period,” and unless she's Superwoman, she's probably not in the greatest mood.
You've probably also noticed that even the week before she gets the visit from Aunt Flow, she's particularly on edge. That means if the average woman's menstruation period lasts three to five days, we spend close to 10 days a month riding an emotional roller coaster.
It sucks for everyone involved, but don't get too disheartened. I'm here to fill you in on the upsides of your lady's cycle as well as give you a survival guide for the rest of the month.
Menstruation (days one to five)
There's no doubt about it: This is the point in the cycle where she's at the peak of her period pain.
Cramps, fatigue, backaches and acne are just a few of the common symptoms during this time period. But believe it or not, this is also the time when your girl is most likely to be happy. The rising estradiol in her body actually helps fight common stress hormones and is likely to keep her in a decent mood.
My suggestion: Bring her some chocolate, snuggle with her on the couch and you'll win all the boyfriend brownie points.
Follicular Phase (days six to 10)
Rejoice in the fact that you've made it through her period. This is the time when your girl is starting to feel more like herself again.
Our progesterone levels decrease during this phase, making it easier for us to empathize with people instead of being so on edge.
My suggestion: Take her out on a fun date. But whatever you do, DO NOT bring up anything she said or did while she was on her period. Just forgive and forget until next month.
Ovulation (days 11 to 15)
The high levels of estradiol in her body will also interact with other hormones to increase her libido.
My suggestion: Go on a trip to Victoria's Secret and take advantage of her new-found confidence.
Beginning Of The Luteal Phase (days 16 to 22)
Think of this time as the calm before the storm.
In a few days, your girl will be entering the PMS phase of her cycle. But for now, the estrogen and testosterone levels in her body are dropping while her progesterone level is rising. The chemical change allows her to feel less stressed and a little more zen.
My Suggestion: If you're going to address an issue your lady friend is bound to disagree with, now is the time to do it.
But if all is well in the relationship, try spending time bonding with her by doing a relaxing activity like a walk in the park or a yoga class.
End Of The Luteal Phase (Days 23 to 28)
As the progesterone levels continue to rise in her body, she'll produce more cortisol (a hormone that tends to be higher in people who are stressed). This is when the PMS symptoms start.
She's likely to go through a few mood swings and have some strange food cravings, telling you Aunt Flow is on her way.
My Suggestion: Hide.
But in all seriousness, bring home some cookies, comfort her through all those crying spells (even though you have no idea why she's crying) and try to be that cute, understanding boyfriend people talk about on TV.