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Hormones and Productivity: Estrogen V The 9-5

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.

A little-known fact about the traditional 9-5 workday; it is entirely based on the rise and fall of testosterone. Yep, that is how steeped our society is in the patriarchy. There are a few tips and tricks women can employ as we adapt to a productivity cycle not designed for us, though. First, let’s make sure we all understand how male and female hormone cycles differ. 

The 24 productivity cycle is rooted in the ebb and flow of the hormone “testosterone”, the primary sex hormone in males. Their days start with high productivity because their testosterone is at its height. Throughout the course of the day testosterone levels gradually decrease, and hit a steep decline during the early evening; this is the reason work days end when they do, as men then require recharging for the next day.

Women, on the other hand, experience a month-long rise and fall of our primary sex hormone, “estrogen”. Per Hormonology, a web service dedicated to getting women in sync with their cycles, female hormone cycles are typically broken up into four phases: the follicular, the ovulatory, the luteal, and the menstrual. The follicular phase, the first 6-14 days of a cycle, is typically considered to be prime productivity time. This leaves the rest of the cycle paling in comparison in terms of creativity and efficiency, and women racing to catch up when our bodies are operating on a totally different clock!

I was shocked to learn that something as fundamental as the workday has been so heavily influenced by patriarchal values, and more people need to understand just how dangerous it is to continue perpetuating these conventions. However, we are in many ways existing between our knowledge of a disparity and our ability to effectively do anything about it. Thus, we must take charge of our productivity and energy, harnessing the female hormone cycle to our advantage as men have for centuries. 

Even though the follicular phase is considered the most “productive” phase of the cycle, there are advantages to all four phases. For example, per Forbes Magazine, the ovulatory phase increases communication skills and makes collaborative work a breeze. The luteal phase is where attention to detail shines, and the menstrual phase heightens intuition. If we think about it this way, we can see how beneficial it would be to start our month by getting tasks done, move into collaboration, and then revise and use our intuitive reasoning to ensure we are doing the best work we can at the end of our cycle. 

The very existence of a testosterone-influenced productivity cycle is problematic and requires large-scale reflection and change, but right now it is important to understand how you can use the female hormone cycle to your advantage in every facet of your life.

Grace is a junior at James Madison University, majoring in English and Writing, Rhetoric, & Technical Communication with a minor in Creative Writing. She enjoys reading contemporary romance novels, doing yoga, and listening to music!