I don’t know about you, but I really don’t look forward to my period. Not quite “The Curse” as many people have called it, but not quite “The Gift” that many women have reframed it to be. For awhile, my period was just a biological-something that happened to me, without my permission, and leaving me with much bloat, many tears, gratuitous pain, and far from a pleasure to be around.
But a few months ago, I read Gabrielle Lichterman’s 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods, and Potential, which forced me to look at my menstrual cycle more deeply and with a more positive lens. Reading this book helped me see the hormones that drive my menses could be my secret weapon to holistic tool to career advancement and wealth building once I learned more about them.
How Hormones Work
A hormone is a material that travels throughout the bloodstream from one organ to another with the goal of changing that second organ’s or tissues’ actions. Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of this book’s forward says, “Each hormone acts like a microscopic [chemical] messenger. When it arrives at its destination, it triggers a flood of chemical interactions that affect the rest of the body.”
They work slowly, over time, and affect many different processes, including growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, and mood. In addition to affecting these processes, it is common knowledge that hormones influence our behaviors.
The Triple Threat–Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone and a Woman’s Brain on Hormones
Three chief hormones govern women’s menstrual cycles: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The ebbs and flows of these hormones in your body link to behavioral changes in your brain. In particular, the way the levels of these hormones combine has a different effect on a woman each day of her menstrual cycle, but we tend to focus on is the day that “Aunt Flow” comes and the effects that she has on our lives for 24-48 hours, but not how she directly impacts us on the other seven-days out of the month.
How Your Period Influences Your Financial Decisions and Boss Moves—Day 1-Day 13
On Days 1-13 of a 28-day menstrual cycle, estrogen and testosterone are on the rise. Estrogen is considered to be the “optimistic” hormone while testosterone is considered to be your “cash-confident” hormone. Together, they can cause you to be more impulsive and adventurous, treat yourself more, and overestimate your ability to come up with money to replenish the emergency fund and retirement account that you raided so you could live it up today. On these days, try to pay strictly with cash or a debt card to keep you out of the poor house.
To hopefully counteract all of urges to spend more freely because of your optimism and high-confidence levels, you are more likely, during this part of your cycle, also to be more creative, ask for what you want, and take leadership roles. This is an ideal time of the month to negotiate your salary, speak about stretch assignment, and go after the promotion or raise that you want.
How Your Period Influences Your Financial Decisions and Boss Moves—Day 14-Day 28
On Days 14-28, your financial behaviors and career moves undergo a shift. Day 14 is your big O-day or ovulation day, when an egg has been released from your ovary. After this happens, your estrogen and testosterone levels begin to decline. The withdrawal of these two hormones from Day 15-Day 28 leads to less confidence and optimism. As it relates to your finances, you may begin to feel more guilty about spending on the whim, and become (relatively) more conservative about your money moves. The only exception comes to purchases that you may make for your home because of this “nesting” effect of progesterone which takes center stage during this time of month.
In addition, estrogen withdrawal may make you experience bouts of “nervousness, anxiety, teariness, and the blues— usually not related to any specific event that’s happening around you.” That coupled with progesterone, the hormone known for its sedative quality, may make “taking over the world” either seem impossible or be a non-priority when it comes to work.
So instead of calling our periods the “The Curse” or “The Gift”, maybe more apropos monikers would be “The Closer”, “The Spender” or “The Negotiator.”