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Balancing acts: Navigating male and female hormone cycles

Hormones are the maestros of our body’s symphony, setting the tempo for everything from our mood and energy levels to our reproductive health and metabolism.We all have our own unique hormonal compositions which strum to very distinct rhythms. By understanding these cycles and the changes they bring, we can manage our health more effectively and feel our best. Let’s get to know our hormones a little better.

What are hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by glands in the body. They travel through the bloodstream, regulating various processes like metabolism, growth, and mood. Think of them as the body’s internal communication system, ensuring everything runs smoothly and in balance. Our hormones can also fluctuate due to factors such as age, stress, diet, and sleep quality. Whether you’re dealing with testosterone dips or navigating menopause, understanding your hormonal health can help you recognize what’s going on in your body and tend to its needs.

The female hormonal cycle

The female hormonal cycle involves the interplay of multiple hormones, primarily estrogen and progesterone, orchestrated by the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries. This means the brain and ovaries are in constant communication, influencing hormonal changes over the course of each menstrual cycle. Estrogen and progesterone are the primary female sex hormones, which ebb and flow in a cyclical pattern throughout the menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle, which typically lasts about 28 days, consists of four distinct phases. Let’s take a closer look:

Menstruation: The fresh start

Consider this phase the body’s monthly refresh, shedding the old uterine lining for a fresh start. This marks the first day of your period, taking place between days 1-7 of the 28 day cycle. Many consider it a time for self-care as estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest, sometimes causing symptoms such as cramps, fatigue and mood swings.

The scoop on period poop: Have you ever experienced “period poop”? Hormonal shifts, specifically the rise in prostaglandins, can increase gut motility leading to more frequent trips to the bathroom, constipation, or even a different stool consistency. So, next time you notice these changes, remember it’s just your body’s way of adjusting to your menstrual cycle.

Follicular phase: The prep

On days 8-11 of your cycle, the ovaries get busy preparing for potential pregnancy. Follicles grow, eggs mature, and estrogen levels rise, prepping the uterus for a possible baby. Often considered the ‘feel-good phase’ of your cycle, research shows that when estrogen levels rise, especially estradiol, they can boost serotonin, the mood influencer. Plus, that surge in estrogen can actually help calm down cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline (the fight-or-flight hormone), giving you a mood and energy boost.

As ovulation draws near and estrogen hits its peak, it’s like the body’s cue to release luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland, signaling the release of an egg from the ovary. So, it’s not just about prepping for a possible pregnancy—it’s about feeling good and ready for whatever comes your way!

Ovulation: The peak

Mid-cycle (days 12-17), our bodies set the stage for conception. Here, individuals may feel differently in their bodies compared to any other part of their cycle, as this phase ushers in the body’s drive to procreate. A surge of hormones (GnRH, FSH and LH) triggers the release of an egg, signaling the height of fertility. Estrogen takes the lead, creating a fertile environment for a sperm. During ovulation, a mild soreness may occur on the side of the body where the egg is released from the ovary. This is known as mittelschmerz, German for “middle pain”and can last from a few minutes to a couple of days.

Feel a little extra spicy around ovulation? Let’s talk libido. This heightened desire is also influenced by the surge in hormones around this time. Think of it as nature’s way of increasing the chances of conception.

Luteal phase: The limbo

After ovulation, it’s time to wait and see. Here, the leftover follicle turns into something called the corpus luteum, which pumps out progesterone to keep the uterus cozy for a possible pregnancy. If that little bun doesn’t make its way to the oven, progesterone and estrogen levels drop and the cycle starts all over again. And did you know that mid-luteal spike in progesterone can cause constipation? Yup, progesterone is all about relaxing those smooth muscles, including the bowels.

Toward the end of your luteal phase, as your period gets closer, PMS symptoms might begin to sneak their way in. These symptoms may vary in intensity and can include: fatigue, mood swings, bloating, cramps, back pain, nausea and tender or swollen breasts. Stress and anxiety can also shake things up during this phase. Studies show that we might experience these feelings due to the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone levels before menstruation. These changes can influence neurotransmitters like serotonin, which are important for mood regulation.

While these symptoms may be difficult to navigate, it’s important to work with your body and not against it as it moves through this phase. For instance, consider low intensity, slower activities until things begin to pick back up again.

The male hormonal cycle

Testosterone reigns supreme as the primary male sex hormone. Unlike the female hormonal cycle, the male hormonal cycle does not involve monthly fluctuations. Instead, testosterone levels typically follow a fairly stable pattern, peaking in the morning and gradually declining throughout the day. Think of the female hormonal cycles like waves in the ocean, rising and crashing creating a dynamic journey. On the other hand, the male cycle resembles a flowing stream, meandering smoothly with minimal turbulence.

Testosterone plays a vital role in several physiological processes, including muscle mass maintenance, bone density, libido, mood regulation and the production of red blood cells and sperm. When testosterone levels drop below optimal levels, men may experience symptoms such as fatigue, decreased libido, mood swings, reduced muscle mass, thinning hair and difficulty concentrating. Conversely, excessively high testosterone levels can cause aggressiveness, acne, and even infertility.

Did you know that a small amount of circulating testosterone in men is converted to estradiol, a form of estrogen? As men age, they often make less testosterone, and so they produce less estradiol as well. Some research shows that a testosterone deficiency might even be related to a decline in estradiol.

Navigating menopause and andropause

Both menopause and andropause are natural transitions in life, yet they can present unique challenges and experiences. Understanding that these hormonal shifts are part of the natural aging process can help us embrace this new chapter with care and confidence.


During menopause, the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen and progesterone, leading to the end of menstrual periods. Perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause, comes with its own set of changes. You might experience hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, trouble sleeping, and other symptoms due to this hormonal shift. Additionally, lower estrogen levels may also increase the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

The menopausal transition typically begins between ages 45 and 55. It usually lasts about 7 years but can be as long as 14 years. Age and lifestyle factors can also influence the duration.


Andropause, often referred to as ‘male menopause’, involves a gradual decline in testosterone levels in men as they age. Typically, testosterone tends to decrease by about 1% every year, usually starting around the age of 20. Symptoms of andropause can include fatigue, reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, mood swings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Some may also experience changes in body composition, such as increased body fat and decreased muscle mass.

In Canada, over 25% of men above the age of 40 experience symptoms of andropause caused by low testosterone levels. However, while testosterone levels decline, another hormone called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) increases. This hormone binds to some of the circulating testosterone in the blood, reducing the amount available for use by the body. When there’s less bioavailable testosterone, tissues in the body that depend on it may not get enough, leading to physical and sometimes mental changes.

However, some males can experience high testosterone throughout their entire life and never experience andropause.

Supporting hormonal health through life’s stages

Quality supplements can be a game-changer for hormonal health, helping to balance and regulate hormones. They provide essential nutrients that support your body’s natural processes through all of life’s stages. Let’s take a closer look:

Estro Calm is formulated with the compound Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is naturally found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and cabbage. I-3-C acts as a potent antioxidant, shielding cells from oxidative damage and aiding the liver in processing excess estrogen. Particularly beneficial for women experiencing hormonal fluctuations, Estro Calm promotes healthy estrogen metabolism, helps maintain hormonal balance and alleviates symptoms associated with estrogen dominance.

T-Boost is powered by  Testofen®, a patented fenugreek extract that’s clinically proven to increase free testosterone. Formulated with KSM-66® ashwagandha to help increase resistance to stress and promote vitality. When paired with regular resistance training, it can aid athletic performance.

Understanding the ups and downs of our hormonal cycles empower us to take charge of our health. By tuning in to our bodies and embracing self-care practices that support hormonal balance, we can navigate these fluctuations with ease and feel our best every step of the way.

What Are Prostaglandins?
What Is Menopause?
How Hormones Affect Mood for Women
What does Estradiol do?
Serotonin: The natural mood booster
Luteinizing Hormone
What Is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?
Low E Not Low T May Be the Problem
Constipation Before Your Period: Causes and Treatments
What Does It Mean to Have Low Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) Levels?
Andropause (Low Testosterone, Male Menopause, Manopause)
Psychiatric Symptoms Across the Menstrual Cycle in Adult Women: A Comprehensive Review




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