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Yes, Your Hormones Impact Your Social Battery — Here's How (& What To Do)

Hannah Frye
Author:
June 12, 2024
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.

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Image by Stocksy | Ani Dimi
June 12, 2024
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Welcome to The Cycle Series, where we cover the unique changes that women experience during the menstrual cycle. We'll dive into the shifts to expect, the science behind them, and how to work with your cycle for a happier, healthier life.

I'll never forget the first time I heard the term "social battery." It may seem obvious, but I had never found a phrase that so perfectly describes the fluctuating energy we all have for socializing.

A multitude of factors can affect your social battery, from sleep quality to weather, to day-to-day tasks, and, of course, how much time you spent socializing the previous day.

While extroverts might have a longer social battery than introverts, everyone's battery drains at some point. I know mine does, especially during a particular phase of my cycle—surprisingly, not during my period.

Curious whether I was the only one experiencing this cyclical desire to socialize, I turned to the experts: Does a woman's hormone cycle impact her social battery? If so, when is it most and least charged? They had much to say on the topic, so let's dive in.

Editor's note

When we refer to women in this article, we refer to those assigned female at birth (AFAB). The health-related correlations are exclusive to hormonal and chromosomal differences, not gender identity or expression.

A closer look at how social battery may vary throughout a woman's cycle

Before I delve into the details, let's zoom out for a moment to talk about women's health research—or rather, the lack of it. The Cycle Series often involves piecing together various elements to form a complete picture, and the topic of social battery has plenty of pieces to consider.

You won't find tons of studies specifically showing that women are more or less likely to want to socialize during certain phases of their cycle—not because it's not true but because this topic is quite specific and currently low on the priority list for women's health research.

However, there is some research (not enough, but I digress) on how different hormones impact factors contributing to social battery—such as sleep, mood, and energy. This is how experts can make predictions about when some women may feel more socially charged or drained. Plus, anecdotal evidence from OB/GYNs and psychologists is worthwhile here.

Now that we've covered how we get our answers, let's get started. 

mbg creative
Image by mbg creative

Estrogen & progesterone are at a low during your period, so you may crave alone time

Not everyone experiences PMS symptoms during their actual menstruation phase—in fact, it's more likely to happen before your period begins. However, these symptoms (including cramps and mood swings) can continue into menstruation, which can definitely dampen the desire to socialize.

During menstruation, regardless of its length (a few days for some1, a week for others), both estrogen and progesterone are low. 

Estrogen is known as an energy booster2, enhancing mood and vitality, says Anate Brauer, M.D., a New York–based reproductive endocrinologist and OB/GYN at RMA New York. When estrogen is low during your period, you may feel less inclined to socialize.

Similarly, progesterone, a calming, anti-anxiety hormone3, is also low during your period. This can lead to increased anxiety, naturally affecting your social desire. Progesterone also promotes better sleep, so when levels are low during menstruation, you might struggle to rest well.

Some women experience balanced, run-of-the-mill energy levels during their period, which makes sense considering both estrogen (energizing) and progesterone (calming) are low, potentially creating a balance. However, everyone responds differently to this teeter-totter of energy when both hormones dip simultaneously, so be kind to yourself and embrace whatever comes your way. Some days you may feel more social than others, and that's completely normal. 

The bottom line

Obviously, if you're in bed with cramps and an unbreakable bad mood (it happens to the best of us), you're probably not going to feel up to going out to a party—and you shouldn't force yourself to. But if you feel a surge of energy and happy mood, run with it!  

Energy levels spike during your follicular phase, so don't be afraid to keep your calendar booked

The follicular phase is like the golden hour for people who struggle with PMS. This time is filled with a rise in testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. "During the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, when estrogen levels are rising, women often feel more energetic and upbeat," says Stephanie Hack, M.D., FACOG, founder of women's health platform Lady Parts Doctor.

At the same time, progesterone is rising (remember: the calming hormone) and testosterone is soaring too, lending to elevated mood, energy, and libido (especially as you approach ovulation). 

With all of this combined, your hormones are setting you up to flourish socially during your follicular phase. This would be the best time to schedule major social events like dinner parties and celebrations if you have the flexibility to do so. 

The bottom line

Soaring progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone sets you up for increased energy and elevated mood, so don't be afraid to keep your calendar booked. If you're not sure when to schedule a major social event, this would probably be your best bet. 

A bit of both happens during your luteal phase, so embrace the rain check 

The luteal phase (the days between ovulation and the beginning of your menstrual cycle) can be a bit confusing because your estrogen and progesterone levels drop, rise, and slowly decline again. 

During this two-week phase, progesterone hits an all-time high. As mentioned earlier, progesterone in small steady doses seen in the follicular phase can make you feel calm, but when it's super high in the luteal phase, you might feel downright exhausted—and that's totally normal. 

"In some cases, the fluctuation in hormone levels can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to lower energy levels," Hack says about the luteal phase. In fact, research shows you're more likely to experience wake-ups at night during your luteal phase thanks to the spike in progesterone and dip in its metabolite, ​​allopregnanolone. 

With both a low energy baseline and the possibility of sleep trouble, it's fair to assume a late-night socializing venture might not sound the best during your luteal phase. 

Plus, "Late in this phase, PMS symptoms like mood swings and anxiety can also diminish the desire to go out and socialize," Brauer says. 

So if you find yourself making plans in your follicular phase when your energy levels are high and then find them less appealing once the luteal phase hits, you're not alone.

The bottom line

Embrace the rain check (with courtesy, of course) and clock some extra sleep when you can—especially if you have social plans you have to attend. If you can get more sleep, you'll set yourself up for a more enjoyable time, even with low baseline energy levels. 

What about birth control and menopause?

So, we've covered what happens during a regular (or semiregular) menstrual cycle—but what about for those on birth control or in menopause? Things change a little bit, but understanding which hormones influence social battery is still helpful and relevant here. 

During perimenopause and menopause, significant hormonal changes including decreased estrogen and progesterone levels can impact social tendencies, Brauer says. 

"Reduced estrogen can lead to lower energy levels, and disrupted sleep from symptoms like hot flashes can cause fatigue. Increased anxiety and mood swings are also common, making socializing more challenging," she adds. 

As Brauer explained on a previous installment of The Cycle Series, women on combination birth control pills with both estrogen and progesterone may feel relatively stable energy levels throughout the month, which could mean you don't feel fluctuations in social battery based on hormones alone. Remember that social battery is a puzzle, and your sleep, mood, and energy are impacted by plenty of other things as well. 

Women on triphasic pills that vary in hormone levels to mimic a natural cycle may resonate more with the traditional fluctuations covered above. 

How to support your social battery throughout your cycle

So, now that you have an understanding of hormone fluctuations and how they impact your social battery, let's get to some actionable tips: 

1. Know your cycle as best you can

"Shifting needs according to your cycle is perfectly normal and likely even has an evolutionary benefit of guiding you to take time to yourself on a regular basis," says clinical psychologist Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D.

"As you start tracking your cycle according to your mood, you might even be able to tailor your plans to suit your needs—for example, you might plan your housewarming party for the week after your period if you know you'll want extra rest during your cycle," she adds. 

For this reason and many more, tracking your cycle can help you feel more in control and empowered. 

2. Don't cancel just because, and do it respectfully if you do

"It's a good idea to at least be open to challenging yourself to try since many people actually have a great time once they get past the initial barrier of settling into a social gathering and because social support is very healthy," Carmichael says. 

However, if you know it's just not going to work (and you'd rather avoid being the moody party attendee), opt for a kind and respectful rain check. "This lets you relax more during the day since the event isn't hanging over your head, and it allows the other person time to make other plans."

It's worth noting, Carmichael says, that some social events, like a low-key evening with your best friend, might be just what you need during your period or peak luteal phase to perk up and refresh your mind. Other events may be draining, so keep that in mind when planning out your weekends. 

3. Have solo activities on hand

If you don't feel like socializing, be it due to fatigue or anxiety or something else, invest your time in an independent activity that brings you joy—or better, have a list of options to choose from. 

Whether it's watching your favorite show, going to a gentle yoga class, painting, reading a book, or something else, having different options on hand can help you fill your cup, release stress, and spark joy on your own. 

4. Remember that social battery is a puzzle

As we've covered, hormones are one piece of the puzzle that is social battery. There are so many other factors contributing to your desire to socialize to keep in mind. So, if you find yourself in your follicular phase but have no desire to go out, check in with other elements of your life—are you stressed? Did you get a poor night's sleep? Is it gloomy outside? The list goes on. 

These guides to understanding how hormones impact the body can be helpful, but they aren't written in stone. 

What's more, some women feel hormonal fluctuations more than others. If you don't experience fluctuations in mood or energy throughout your cycle, that's not abnormal. Everyone is different, and the throughline remains the same: Remember to give yourself (and your social battery) grace. 

The takeaway

You're likely going to feel the most social during your follicular phase, thanks to soaring estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. However, you may be met with more fatigue, anxiety, and sleep trouble in the luteal phase, making you feel less excited about social outings.

Remember that plenty of factors impact your social battery, especially sleep—here, a few tips to get better sleep at any phase

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