Some days I wake up feeling happy, ready to take on the day, productive, and enthusiastic to get shit done. On other days I wake up feeling sluggish, tired, emotional, unmotivated, and getting out of bed to tackle my many responsibilities feels like an impossible task. I sometimes think to myself, “what is wrong with me? Why do I feel so incapable of doing the things I need to do and can usually get done with no problem?” Well, this is because the typical modern day work week is not designed to align with women’s hormone cycles, but conveniently is perfectly aligned with men’s hormone cycle.
On average, a woman’s hormone cycle lasts about 28-29 days and consists of 4 distinct phases that have a direct biological impact on women’s mood, energy levels and wellbeing. The different phases in a woman’s cycle are the menstrual, follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases. During each phase, women experience fluctuations in certain hormone levels which affects how women feel during certain times of the month. This explains why during different times in the hormone cycle it is difficult for myself and other women to feel on top of our game all the time.
Let’s go over the hormones in more detail to get a better understanding of how they tie into women’s menstrual cycles and their effects on wellbeing and mood. The main hormones present during a woman’s cycle are progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
- Progesterone’s main function is to prepare the uterus for pregnancy, but is also linked to symptoms of PMS.
- Estrogen plays a role in preparing the body for ovulation and increased levels of estrogen are linked to increased serotonin production, the happiness hormone, which can make you feel cheerful and optimistic.
- Testosterone aids in the repairing of women’s reproductive tissue and can make them feel energized and stronger.
On the other hand, men experience a 24 hour hormone cycle in which testosterone levels are highest in the morning and lowest in the evening, with some fluctuations of the hormone throughout the day. In today’s work world (constructed by men and made for men) that requires individuals to have sustained energy levels all day, 5 days a week, men’s hormone cycles align perfectly with the standard work week schedule; allowing them to wake up feeling productive, confident, and energized every day.
Therefore, how men feel when they wake up is largely predictable and constant on a day to day basis, while women can wake up feeling like a different person everyday; much of which can be attributed to the variations in each sexes hormone cycles.
Looking at the differences in men’s and women’s hormone cycles makes it clear why the constructed work week is more difficult for women based on their reproductive biology and its effect on mood and energy levels. Before I knew about the menstrual phases, I often beat myself up when I wasn’t feeling my best or as productive as I know I can be. Becoming more educated on the topic has made me more aware of how I am feeling during each phase, and has allowed me to give myself more grace and patience when I am experiencing the unpleasant effects of being a person who mentrates.
While there are most certainly other factors besides hormones that can make you feel down in the dumps, I implore you to give yourself some extra kindness and compassion when you are not feeling like your best self, because there is a good chance your hormones are fucking with you.
P.S. Currently on the tail end of my luteal phase. Feeling blah, crampy, and unmotivated. What phase are you in?
2 thoughts on “Why the Work Week Isn’t Working for Women”
This is also so important in terms of working out & going to the gym! I never understood why some days it was so much harder or the weights seemed so much heavier, but knowing about our cycles and how they affect us is so important to recognize
Thank you for the extra info on this! I have been seeing things about this matter a lot on tiktiok recently and it is so validating to hear that my constant sleepiness is not a singular experience but rather a common effect our societal set up has produced.