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Playlists & Periods
Ruby Moon (she/her)
|
7.20.2021

How many stereotypes and jokes are there about PMS and Auntie Flow? Answer: too many! Whether it’s someone crying over a tub of ice cream, tropes of the “raging woman” or invalidating menstruators based on gender – we’ve seen it all.

Although these stereotypes have been wildly exaggerated, there is scientific truth to the symptoms of PMS. The Office on Women’s Health defines Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as: “a combination of symptoms that many [menstruators] get about a week or two before their period”, reporting that more than 90% of menstruators experience bloating, headaches and moodiness as symptoms. Mood swings, cravings, fatigue, confidence, self-doubt – these are feelings that everybody goes through, but those of us with a period experience them in a bigger, more enhanced way. These feelings can cause changes to your daily routine, and if you’re like me, the soundtracks that follow you through it ~ insert Main Character movie-moment here ~.

I’m 21, so not too old to remember CDs, but I’ll admit that I haven’t bought a CD since I was about 14 when digital platforms took over. For my birthday party goodie bags, my friends knew to expect a carefully curated ‘mix tape’, burned onto a CD entitled Ruby’s Birthday Mix. The birthday mixes were usually a collection of my most listened to songs of that year (but always contained a tribute to my birth year: 1999 by Prince and a feel-good classic: Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader). As digital streaming platforms emerged, this generation adopted headphones and ear buds to make sure we could have music playing 24/7, to fit all parts of our lives (i.e. studying, eating, relaxing, or holidays and seasonal changes.

Menstrual cycles can be overwhelming as is, and no Main Character has time to meticulously plan the music to their mood… So, I’m here to be a Music Director for the movie that is your life – or at least your menstrual cycle. 4 playlists that correspond to the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle, with full explanations of what is happening during each cycle and why?

A menstrual cycle is a roughly four-week span of time when three key hormones—estrogen, testosterone and progesterone—rise and fall in a specific pattern. These 7-song playlists connect to the 28 days of emotions, hormones, and PMS that only someone with a period can really, truly understand.

Phase 1: Must Be Estrogen on the Brain

Peep our Spotify Playlist for Phase #1

Estrogen starts at its lowest point and steadily rises. When estrogen is at its lowest point you will likely feel fatigued and quiet. As it rises, you’ll become more energized, optimistic and motivated to socialize, plus your memory may improve. Your libido (sex drive) increases, and your muscle retention builds, although, you may experience loss of appetite.

Phase 2: O-O-O-Ovulation

Peep our Spotify Playlist for Phase #2

Estrogen and testosterone rise until they peak at the point of ovulation (the 14th day in a 28-day cycle). All of the positive effects from Phase 1 are enhanced, giving you more confidence and courage to take on challenges. An output of pain-masking endorphins caused by the rise in estrogen means going to the dentist, getting waxed, or a flu shot may hurt less (yay!). Unfortunately, this phase triggers excessive arousal in the brain therefore increases anxiety and/or stress. Meditation, yoga, moderate aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) and chamomile tea all help reduce this hormone-fueled anxiety.

Phase 3: pre-PMS

Peep our playlist for Phase 3

Begins the day after ovulation and lasts 8 days. All three hormones are at play: progesterone rises, estrogen and testosterone drop during the first half of week then estrogen rises again. The plunge of estrogen causes pre-PMS symptoms (irritability, fatigue, and a down mood). As estrogen rises during the second half of the week, pre-PMS symptoms are alleviated and your mood levels out. Progesterone rising slows you down, makes you quieter, more cautious and a bit foggy as well as physically fatigued. Progesterone makes you have increased hunger and food cravings towards fat and calories, since your body is mimicking pregnancy. If you don't eat enough during this phase, your body may experience a dramatic shift in mood leading to feelings of anger or sadness.

Phase 4: In My Feels

Peep our playlist for Phase 4

Estrogen and progesterone plunge therefore your mood gets dragged, making you sad, irritable or anxious. The menstruation symptoms will be more intense depending on genes and how healthy your lifestyle is (exercise, nutritious foods, good sleep, etc.). During this phase, plunging estrogen can make you cynical, pessimistic and critical since you're focusing more on negatives than positives. Your libido will return during this week – although not caused by hormones, researchers believe it is caused by nerve endings below getting stimulated and ready for menstruation.

Take away: Emotions are normal and when it comes to PMS, they can actually be broken down into a science. To tackle them, ensure that you eat nutritious foods, have regular body movement and multiple good nights sleeps, to keep your mood more balanced. And finally, use these playlists to honour those emotions and work through each phase of your menstruation cycle as needed. Maybe get yourself a tub of ice cream too 😉

Click here for the full 28 song playlist!

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