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  • Writer's pictureLiz Riesen, RD

Manage Anxiety & Mood Swings Before Your Period Naturally

Understanding your hormones and menstrual cycle is an empowering feeling, when you know how and when hormone shifts occur you can better prepare your body and environment (including loved ones who may be in the line of fire!)

A girl sleeping on bed

Mood swings, increased anxiety, trouble sleeping? Why do I feel this way before my period?

Once you've hit mid-way through your menstrual cycle (ovulation), you enter what we call the luteal phase. In the luteal phase of your cycle, we want to see progesterone levels increase to their peak, which is typically a week before your period.

Adequate progesterone should reduce anxiety and improve your mood. Progesterone stimulates the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that boosts our mood and improves sleep. Low progesterone often leads to low GABA.

If you're experiencing increased anxiety, mood swings, and trouble sleeping in the 1-2 weeks before your period, you most likely have low progesterone levels.

If progesterone isn't able to increase to optimal levels during the luteal phase of your cycle, you will not get the full benefits - including feeling calm and relaxed. This is also true for women who are on birth control. If you noticed anxiety and mood worsen since being on birth control, it is because of depressed progesterone production.

How do I know if I have low progesterone? What's causing it?

Low progesterone levels can be from low production. Low progesterone production can occur when there's high or unmanaged stress in your life, restricted dieting, excessive exercise, or high inflammation in the body.

Low progesterone can also be due to excess estrogen levels in the body. This is a common issue I see in my practice. Estrogen and progesterone perform a balancing act in the body. If you have too much estrogen, it will suppress progesterone levels.

I often order a complete hormone panel on a client to get the full picture of hormone production, metabolism, and balance.

You can certainly implement the natural methods of progesterone support below without testing hormones, but a complete panel is the most helpful tool if you want to see quick and effective results.


Increase Progesterone Naturally

Here are a few ways to increase progesterone naturally with diet and lifestyle techniques I currently use in my practice. You can incorporate one at a time, or all together.

Hormones take time to adjust, so be kind and patient with your body. When you implement a change in one cycle, you will likely not see change until the following cycle. It is always recommended to talk with your doctor when making changes to diet or adding a supplement.

Girl relaxing outside

Be diligent in managing your stress and self-care.

First and foremost, we need to understand the direct relationship between stress and progesterone levels. When we have high or unmanaged stress, it stimulates increased cortisol production. The body will "steal" progesterone to make more cortisol. This is why increased stress will directly impact progesterone levels.

During the luteal phase of your cycle, you want to be extra diligent with stress management techniques and self-care activities. Add in activities that you enjoy and relax you. Schedule a hair appointment or massage, call up your best friend, take a bath, take a walk outside.

Do you have 30 seconds right now?

Here is my number one recommendation that is completely FREE and EASY - although, not that easy to remember. Deep Breathing. This doesn't mean taking one big, deep breath. This is a mindful practice that requires you to focus 100% of your attention to your breath for 30-seconds.

Deep Breathing Exercise

Breathe in slowly through your nose for 3 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Breathe out slowly through your mouth for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times and incorporate this practice periodically throughout the day, especially after a moment of high stress.

sprouts on a plate with fork

Keep Estrogen Levels in a Healthy Range.

There's a ton of ways we can manage estrogen levels if they are too high, but I'm going to keep it simple and give you the SUPERFOOD that helps with estrogen metabolism and detox - keeping levels in a healthy range.

If you want to incorporate another diet change for estrogen and progesterone support during your cycle, you can read my article on Seed Cycling.

The superfood you can add to your diet, especially in the luteal phase of your cycle is broccoli sprouts. Broccoli sprouts are in the cruciferous family of vegetables along with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc. While the whole cruciferous family contain a powerful antioxidant called sulforaphane, the compound is highest in broccoli sprouts - up to 30x higher than broccoli itself!

Sulforaphane and DIM help push estrogen into a healthy metabolism and excretion from the body. They nourish the liver and have been studied for their effect on boosting anticancer activity against breast cancer!

Add 1/2 cup broccoli sprouts to your diet during your luteal phase to help manage estrogen levels and detox. This allows space for the body to increase progesterone production.

Broccoli sprouts can be purchased from the grocery store and are good for one 5-7 days in the fridge. Add to salads, wraps, or your favorite bowl recipe.

Broccoli sprouts area also super easy to make at home with a sprouting kit!

Check out my Foundations of Hormone Balance Program to work more in depth on natural hormone balance, improve energy, and support healthy weight loss!

Woman smiling holding coffee cup

Liz Riesen, Registered Dietitian

works specifically with women's hormones, inflammation, and digestive health. Often these conditions coexist and share common disruptive symptoms including bloating, weight gain, anxiety, mood swings, irregular cycles, and other inflammatory symptoms.

Liz is trained in identifying and healing food sensitivities, as well as balancing hormones naturally through nutrition and lifestyle. Follow me @moms.hormone.dietitian 


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