“And I couldn’t help but wonder...why is my libido higher during certain times of my cycle.” - Carrie Bradshaw, 2020.
We all love a good “Sex And The City” reference. But in all seriousness, there are actual biological reasons for why we experience fluctuations in mood, emotions, and sex drive during various times of the month.
Throughout your cycle, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone hormone levels ebb and flow, which can cause all sorts of shifts. You might feel sleepy, excited, aroused, or all of the above! Just as a note, every body is different and may have varying degrees of experience based on stress, medication, illness, and other factors.
“Your sexual desire is influenced by some of the same hormones that fluctuate with your cycle, like estrogen and progesterone. You may find your desire tends to increase in the days leading up to ovulation and decrease shortly after ovulation is over.” - Clue
Here’s a breakdown of how the four phases of the menstrual cycle affect your libido:
The overall cycle begins with the menstrual phase. Here, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone are at their lowest levels. As the body sheds old tissue from the uterus through the vagina, there are two ends of the spectrum in terms of sex drive.
Either you’re: a) really turned on or b) it’s the last thing on your mind!
Given the flux of emotions and sensations during this time, it’s natural to “not feel yourself.” For those who have uncomfortable periods, it can be a downer for their sex drive. We get it: bloating and cramping doesn’t always make you want to get frisky. Alternatively, there are some who experience heightened arousal during this time - as the blood flow going to your pelvis can mimic the feeling of arousal. Plus, the extra lubrication and positive benefits of orgasms can help make you feel better, holistically. Wherever you are, is exactly where you should be.
The Follicular phase starts on the first day of your menstrual cycle and ends with ovulation. During this time your estrogen hormone levels are rising as your body prepares to release an egg. Because of the increased estrogen, you might feel more energized or confident within your body, plus heightened feelings of arousal.
About midway through your entire cycle, an egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube. The dominant follicle in the ovary produces more and more estrogen, which causes their levels to peak and then slowly decline, along with testosterone. In the first few days of this peak of hormones, you’re probably feeling really hot and heavy! Read some erotica, fantasize, or engage in pleasure with yourself or with a partner. Arousal is PEAK.
During the second half of your cycle, progesterone levels are increasing and causing what we consider PMS symptoms. Breast tenderness, cramps, headaches, and fluctuating moods might not make you feel like your sexiest self, curbing your libido for the meantime.
A note on orgasms:
As you journey through each month, make sure to listen to your body and provide yourself with some extra self-care. By self-care, we mean pleasure. This could mean anything from having a big glass of water, to a meditation session, or to yes, an orgasm. Orgasms are very helpful in reducing cramps, relaxing your body, and allow for better sleep - no matter where you are in your cycle. Do what feels good.