Health Conditions and Your Period: How They Interact

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Handling your period is difficult even without any preexisting health conditions. If you have a health condition (or multiple health conditions), it may alter your experience even further. Certain conditions interact negatively with your menstrual cycle and knowing how (and why) is the first step to taking better care of yourself.



One of every 13 people has asthma, on average, but Perimenstrual Asthma (PMA) is a bit different. It’s triggered by the estrogen fluctuation associated with ovulation and the start of menstruation. Estrogen and progesterone are two of the major hormones involved in the menstruation cycle, and swings in either or both may trigger an asthma flare-up.

How It Works

Certain hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle may cause changes in lung function. Menstruating women experience increased amounts of these changes during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, perimenopause, and menopause.

What Can You Do?

If you experience this type of hormone-triggered asthma, the most important thing to do is monitor your condition and consult a doctor if needed. Otherwise, try these tips.

  • Use your maintenance asthma medication as prescribed.
  • Use a rescue inhaler if you experience shortness of breath.
  • Remember to relax and breath


If you have Type 1 diabetes, you may notice higher blood sugar leading up to menstruation. Progesterone is the culprit behind the rise, as it may cause insulin resistance. On the other hand, if you experience lower blood sugar, estrogen is behind it. Higher estrogen levels may mean improved insulin sensitivity.

How it Works

Since these hormones fluctuate depending on the phase of the cycle, your blood sugar may change with them. Here’s what to expect (if you notice any changes at all).

  • Follicular phase- Higher estrogen, increased insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar 
  • Ovulation- Reduced insulin sensitivity
  • Luteal phase- Increased progesterone, increased insulin resistance, higher blood sugar

What Can You Do?

Fluctuating blood sugar levels may be dangerous for diabetics, so follow these suggestions and always remember to address any big changes or concerns with your doctor.

  • Check blood sugar regularly before and during your period. 
  • Compare readings throughout the month. 
  • Continue to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercise. 
  • Reach out for medical help if concerns grow.

Heart Disease and Stroke 

Estrogen, one of the major hormones involved in the menstrual cycle, protects against heart disease by reducing fatty plaque buildup in the blood vessels. It also helps to control cholesterol levels. Drastic decreases in estrogen production during menopause increase the risk of heart disease.

Early menopause, which starts between the ages of 40 and 45, further increases that risk. Some research indicates that women who began menstruating before 13 years old may be at higher risk for stroke, too.

How it Works

Sometimes, there are no outward signs of heart disease until it’s advanced. However, you keep an eye out for these symptoms.

  • Heart palpitations (more common during menopause)
  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Neck or jaw discomfort

What Can You Do?

If you’re concerned about heart disease or risk of stroke, take these steps.

  • Speak to your doctor about birth control or hormone replacements.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain heart health.
  • Discuss any history of heart disease with your healthcare provider.


Osteoporosis is a condition causing weak bones, which may lead to an increased risk of fractures and slow healing. Estrogen is key in maintaining bone health, and the decline in estrogen during menopause causes osteoporosis.

How it Works

This condition typically affects the bones, but other symptoms may indicate you’re at increased risk. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned by any of these symptoms.

  • Amenorrhea (the loss/absence of menstruation) which is caused by the same type of estrogen deficiency responsible for osteoporosis
  • Sudden or worsening back pain
  • Easy or frequent fractures
  • Change in posture or height

What Can You Do?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoporosis. You can take steps to prevent or decrease your chances of developing it, however.

  • Take calcium and vitamin D for bone health
  • Exercise and strength training
  • Hormone therapy to replace estrogen
  • Speak with your doctor about bone loss prevention


Anemia is caused by a low amount of healthy red blood cells, commonly caused by iron deficiency. Iron moves hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to tissues, cells, and organs.

How Does It Work?

You may become anemic during your period because of the loss of red blood cells with your menstrual bleeding. Women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding lose more red blood cells than the body can keep up with. This results in decreased iron, hemoglobin, and less oxygen circulating in the bloodstream. We need oxygen to replace cells, have energy, and keep up a functioning immune system. If you’ve had past issues with low iron or hemoglobin, be extra vigilant during your period! If you notice any of the following, see your doctor.

  • Increased tiredness 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Dizziness and weakness 
  • Pale/yellow skin 
  • Headaches 

What Can You Do?

Anemia can become serious if left untreated. To keep your iron levels up, try the following.

  • Eat iron-rich foods (leafy greens, shellfish, whole grains, beans, etc.)
  • Use iron supplements 
  • Use progesterone-based birth control to reduce bleeding


Everyone’s body is different. You may never experience one of the above conditions, or you may deal with their effects every day. If you have any of the concerns listed above (or other noticeable changes), talk to your doctor.

And to make your periods a little easier, try a bundle of Maeves and say hello to comfort and security on your heaviest nights and lightest days.








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