Alexandre Cabanel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Have no fear, Gentlemen. This frank discussion of women's hormones will address none of the mechanics and focus solely on the fallout. I share this so that you can better understand what your sisters, wives, and lady friends go through. If you want the facts behind the subject, you can Google them (but I suggest you don't.)
A Gentleman's Guide to Women's Hormones
Our bodies' fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone create the "vital see-saw" effect necessary to keep our reproductive systems running. In doing so, they usher in a host of ancillary problems, including what's commonly termed mood swings.
Here's what you need to know about mood swings: the emotions feel real.
Irrational anger, sudden-onset depression, crippling self-doubt, or some potent combination of the three--these emotions wash over us in waves, rushing in with the grim regularity of the world's most terrible tide. Even when we realize that these emotions are the byproducts of fluctuating hormones, that doesn't stop them from feeling real.
To speak from my own experience, I spend several days a month feeling like a complete loser. I wonder what I'm doing with my life. I question every decision that I've ever made, pondering what's brought me to this: the very pinnacle of failure. I've actually had to make a self-imposed rule that I won't make any major decisions about relationships, career, or life changes during these times because I'm aware that my perceptions are skewed. Although I know enough to tell myself that this isn't how I really feel, that doesn't stop it from feeling real.
Just within the past few years, I've begun to find some spiritual victory through focusing on thankfulness and worship, but the feelings don't go away: they're always right there, waiting to crush me. Knowing that they're coming and knowing that they're fake does help to keep them in check (or at least to moderate my response to them), but it doesn't stop me from feeling them.
Gentlemen, you need to know that most of the women in your life have discovered how to function quasi-normally while fighting floods of fake feelings (even as they struggle through actual physical complications that further weaken their defenses). This struggle requires Herculean effort, and the women who consciously fight this battle should be admired for their strength.
At this point in a post, I would normally transition into tips, tricks, or suggestions for dealing with whatever problem I've chosen to address; but I'm not here to make specific demands.
I'm here to help you Gentlemen understand the struggle.
How you choose to relate to the women in your life in light of this understanding is up to you.