A Comparison of the Female vs Male Hormonal Cycle: Spoiler Alert, Women Have it Worse
Lauren is a Journalism and Law student at the University of South Australia. She has previously had her work published by the On the Record, her university’s leading online journalism platform. As a passionate social justice advocate and feminist, Lauren writes about issues that inspire both thought, and hopefully, action.
Between the monthly cramps, regular headaches, uncontrollable mood swings, and sometimes just pure fatigue, the menstrual cycle certainly comes with its fair share of ups and downs. The joy of having a 28-day hormonal cycle means that certain times of the month are, quite simply, a lot.
During the average 28-day menstrual cycle, hormone levels rise and fall which affects how we feel both physically and emotionally and it's completely out of our control. On the plus side, perhaps by understanding the monthly hormonal party in our bodies we might feel less enraged when the PMS symptoms hit, and you are up all night with insomnia and cramps while your boyfriend sleeps soundly. Or maybe not, it is incredibly unfair.
Let's look at the average female hormonal cycle.
The Female Hormonal Cycle
There are four phases in the menstrual cycle: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase. During the follicular and ovulation phases you will probably be feeling pretty good, so appreciate these little spurts of positivity and motivation because it might not hang around for too long.
The luteal phase is where the body is very busy preparing for the implantation of a fertilised egg. If a woman doesn’t get pregnant, both the progesterone and oestrogen hormones start to lower after their peak which can start the onset of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This essentially means that you will probably feel quite irritable and tired. As a rough guideline, this can happen around days 22-24 of your cycle, so if you are incredibly unproductive those days it really isn't your fault.
Then there's the menstrual phase, aka your period. During this period the thickened lining of your uterus is discarded from the body through the vagina, which is about as fun as it sounds. As your progesterone and oestrogen levels decrease due to lack of conception, you can expect to endure sudden mood swings, tender breasts, cramping, migraines, lower back pain, and more tiredness. And of course, the hormonal breakout will occur just in time for that fun social event you had planned. The length of a person's period will vary but on average will last between five days to a week. That is a good chunk of time taken out of your month where you might be feeling awful.
Let's compare this to the male hormonal cycle, shall we?
The Male Hormonal Cycle
Men have a 24-hour cycle, where their testosterone levels are highest in the morning and lowest in the night. Which essentially means that they are perfectly in sync with the standard workday. The morning is a great time for men as their testosterone levels are at their peak and so is the man. Their hormones keep them energetic, talkative, and focused so that they are ready to have a productive day. This can carry on into the afternoon, as their hormone levels have decreased but only slightly. In fact, the fluctuation in hormone levels is so minimal that it can go completely unnoticed. It's only in the evening when tiredness will really hit them, but luckily that’s the time when everyone goes to bed.
Women's bodies are not so perfectly compatible with the way society has been constructed, which is not shocking when the world is designed by men, for men. The standard workday and job require people to have a sustained level of energy every day, which just so happens to work seamlessly with the male hormone cycle.
If I wasn't currently in the luteal phase, I might be laughing.