I will first apologise to the guys for this one, I usually don’t do gender specific posts, but this one is for those of you who have a, ‘Time of The Month’! 🙂
Recently I have noticed in the ‘WordPress dashboard’, the stats of this blog, that, one of the search terms that lead people to this blog is: ‘Pots worse before period’. So I thought it would be a good idea to do a post for people who have been looking for it.
YES!! in my own experience my symptoms nearly always get worse before my period/menstrual cycle. Any of the symptoms I usually have like, Low Blood Pressure, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and pain seem amplified the week prior and even worse during my period.
It kind of works out that I will have 2 relatively good weeks in the month and 2 where I am extra sickly. It is frustrating as hell but I have kind of gotten used to it now and just go with it. I do what I can when I can, but I have become extra unsocial as a result, I can’t commit to appointments with people these days because my health sometimes will go of a morning, “hey f*ck you, we aint doing anything today, today you stay in bed and be miserable, yeaaaah!” …screw you Autonomic Nervous System! :p
Seriously though, us potsie ladies are not alone. Most women with any sort of Dysautonomia report their symptoms getting worse during their period. I have done a quick run around the interwebs and it seems that the changes in your hormones around this time is what kicks your messed up Autonomic Nervous System reactions into high gear.
I have found an excellent description of what happens your body during your menstrual cycle and with Dysautonomia, over on Santa Maria Medicine.
What Happens During the Menstrual Cycle in POTS Patients?
The menstrual cycle takes a toll on patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia. It’s during the actual 5-7 day bleeding phase that patients will feel the acute loss of blood volume which, of course, will make them feel drained and exacerbate all of their usual symptoms—including, in particular, fatigue.
The menstrual cycle revolves around changes in hormones which are aimed at preparing an egg for maturation and release. It’s also a time to prepare the uterine lining to accept the fertilized egg and allow it to develop. When your bleeding stops, your estrogen levels will quickly start rising, as well as your FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)—which is done in order to encourage one of the eggs to grow. This part of the process peaks at about day 14 of your cycle and is called ovulation. It’s at this time in your cycle that progesterone levels will begin to quickly raise, and the egg has approximately 48 hours to become fertilized.
It is AFTER the phase of ovulation has passed that blood levels of estrogen and progesterone are rapidly rising and this is what seems to contribute to better postural blood pressure control—lessened tachycardia and overall energy.
Say the egg is not fertilized during this period—and instead the two main hormones (estrogen and progesterone) rapidly and suddenly drop straight down to almost nothing. The uterus sheds its lining (otherwise known as menses or a “period”) and this is when POTs patients may feel their worst.
Be sure to head on over to the Santa Maria Medicine blog for the full post and for tips to what helps relieve your symptoms.
In May 2009 a study was done which looked at the link between women’s monthly cycle and POTs called:
Menstrual Cycle Affects Renal-Adrenal and Hemodynamic Responses During Prolonged Standing in the Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
By: by Fu, VanGundy, Shibata, Auchus, Williams and Levine
The study looks at the difference in the Mid-Luteal Phase vs the Follicular phase of our menstural cycle and how it may affect us.
You can get a lovely break down of what the study means over on the Pots and OI recovery Blog, be sure to check it out 🙂
For me, Lifestyle choices are everything to how I feel during the month. If I eat any sort of Gluten, thats it I am bloated and out of sorts for at least two days so now I have gone completely Gluten free and have noticed a vast improvement, including with my period symptoms.
A hot water bottle is always a dear friend during this time, though as with all Potsies, be careful not to get too hot or it will make you feel worse, but putting heat on your tummy or sore back during this time is always a comfort.
That… and Chocolate! 😉