How Your Period Affects Productivity

Menstruation | | Natasha Weiss
4 min read

When it comes to work and school, some days you might feel like you’re on fire, while others you might feel like you’re using your two last brain cells to get through the day. A lot of things can affect your productivity and ability to get stuff done, but what about the culprit that sneaks up on you every month only to knock you on your butt and throw all your plans out the window? 

That’s right, your period. Good old Aunt Flow. Shark week. Whatever you want to call it, we all know what it’s like to feel like your period is slowing you down – for better or worse. It might feel like you want to trudge on ahead, but it’s ok to take a break! So how does your period affect your productivity and how can you work with your menstrual cycle to live your best life? Find out now!

The Menstrual Cycle

Before you can understand how your menstrual cycle affects productivity, it’s helpful to have a quick review of the menstrual cycle as a whole. 

You can divide it up into four main stages:

  • Menstrual Phase: This starts the first day of your period, and typically lasts three to seven days. 
  • Follicular Phase: This overlaps with your menstrual phase, also starting the first day of your period and ending with ovulation.
  • Ovulation Phase: This is the twenty-four-hour window when you’re fertile, usually occurring two weeks after the first day of your period if you have a twenty-eight-day cycle. 

Now that you’re a period pro, let’s get down to understanding why it’s so hard to get stuff done during your period!

Period Fatigue and Productivity

One of the biggest symptoms that can come with getting your period is fatigue. Chalk it up to biology, this is a totally normal response and doesn’t mean that you’re lazy whatsoever. You’re not alone either, 90% of people who menstruate have experienced some symptoms of PMS – premenstrual syndrome. 

Along with fatigue, you may also experience cramps, headaches, irritability, anxiety, back pain, bloating, and mood swings. It’s hard to balance all that while also trying to be productive!

So why do you get so tired during your period? This is primarily due to hormone changes that occur before and during your period. You’ve probably heard of estrogen, one of the most well-known sex hormones. Estrogen production increases during the first half of the menstrual cycle, and decreases in the second half. Serotonin is one of the key neurotransmitters for happiness, and also tends to decrease with estrogen, meaning it can be hard to stay motivated, happy, and energized. 

Another factor that can contribute to fatigue is certain reproductive health disorders. Iron deficiency anemia can lead to fatigue, especially during your period, as can endometriosis and PCOS

Understanding the science behind menstruation can help you see why your period can affect productivity so much. But still, we live in a world where we have to get stuff done and live our lives, even when we’re bleeding. That’s why it’s so helpful to know your individual cycle and have a plan for when it’s harder to be productive.

Plan Accordingly

One of the first steps towards optimizing productivity around your period is to understand your cycle. You can get to know your cycle better through tools like cycle journaling, basal thermometers, and tracking your cervical height and mucus. 

People who menstruate tend to feel the most productive at the end of their periods and through ovulation. But everyone’s different! Some people get tired during ovulation or are out of commission for their whole period. Knowing your cycle means being able to plan meetings, projects, workouts, and social events at times when you tend to have more energy. 

If you feel like a lack of productivity around your period is severely affecting your life, you may want to discuss your options with your healthcare provider. They can test your hormone levels and suggest certain medications like hormonal birth control, pain medication, and iron supplements to help bring some balance into your cycle. You can also help support your cycle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, healthy sleep habits, and even herbalism

Give Yourself a Break

If you’re not as productive as you’d like to be before and during your period, it’s ok, that is so normal! We know it can be frustrating to feel like you’re not doing your best during this time of the month, but there’s a lot going on inside of you that you have very little control over. Especially if you deal with intense PMS or period symptoms. 

Although you may not have much of a choice, you don’t have to always get stuff done – especially during your period. Rest is one of the best tools for dealing with period discomfort and fatigue. Don’t be afraid to take a break, a nap, or just slow your schedule down a bit. Bleeding is hard work, do what you need to do to take care of yourself! 

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