Does My Menstrual Cycle Affect My Ability To Exercise
No. Researchers have not been able to find any differences during the menstrual cycle in a womans ability to exercise. The only significant finding was for endurance events, or long sports events, like marathons. In endurance events, women who had already ovulated but not started their period yet had a harder time exercising during hot and humid weather.4,5
Apply Heat To Relax & Wind Down
When you’re on your period and exhausted, a great way to prepare yourself for deep sleep is by adding some warmth to your evening. Dr. Dweck suggests you take a warm bath and grab a hot water bottle. It will help your menstrual cramps and overall discomfort. Too much heat can make you more wakeful, though, so be aware that your hot water bottle could keep you up at night.
Physical And Emotional Changes Before Your Period
Around 90% of women report that they notice at least some physical or emotional changes in the lead-up to their period. Examples of changes that can occur include:
- Bloating or gassiness
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Reduced concentration and memory
- Sadness, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings
- Changes in sex drive
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Appetite changes
When these symptoms appear, they range from 10 days to only a few hours before your period. They may go away shortly after menstruation begins or can last for several days after your period starts.
Though almost all women detect some changes before their period, they are usually limited and mild. The type and severity of changes can fluctuate over time and across different menstrual cycles.
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Eat The Right Foods At The Right Times
Cravings for fast food and sweet treats are hard to resist. There are better options that wont leave you with the mid-afternoon sugar comedown encouraging you to nap. Pack in protein-based foods like pulses and vegetables. Go for iron-rich foods like spinach too blood loss means being low in iron, which is also a cause for fatigue. Check out these 9 foods you should eat on your period to help cramps! Check out 9 foods you should eat on your period to help cramps!
Smaller but more frequent meals throughout the day will also help stop your body from slumping. Large portions mean your body is putting more energy into digesting contributing to your tiredness and theres a longer wait for your next meal. Its an age-old trick for a reason!
Using your diet and timings to control your energy levels will help to keep you going throughout the day!
Try Acupuncture For Period Fatigue
People who experience serious PMS are sometimes recommended regular sessions of acupuncture. Dr. Dweck says she would “absolutely consider to be complementary,” and that she’s seen it help many of her patients before. Studies have shown that acupuncture can successfully treat insomnia, and it’s a therapy known to make you feel more energetic.
You Need A New Pillow Or Mattress
A new mattress should be purchased every 7-10 years. If your one is starting to reach the end of its life cycle, it could be impacting your sleep.
Before buying a new one, its important to understand your own preference and the different options available when you shop.
Even if you go to bed early and think youre sleeping through until morning, your pillow could be undoing all this good work. The right pillow will support your neck and spine and prevent back pain. An old or uncomfortable pillow means that youll toss and turn all night which stops your body getting the rest it needs, making you feel tired.
Pillow test: Place the middle of the pillow over your arm, if the sides hang down its time to buy a new one!
Keep An Eye On What You’re Eating Right Before & During Your Period
During the luteal phase, or the week before your period, you might be particularly craving comfort food, since PMS is so uncomfortable. Often, these foods can cause sugar levels to spike, and in turn, make your insulin levels rise â leading to a hard crash later in the afternoon or evening.
“Diet manipulation is a really good way to manage period fatigue,” Dr. Dweck says. She recommends eating small, frequent meals throughout the day, and munch on plenty of protein. A little chunk of dark chocolate when you’re menstruating will never steer you wrong. While there’s a lot of value in choosing comfort food â it’s right in the name! â these adjustments will keep your energy up and help you sleep better.
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Too Hot Or Too Cold In Bed
If youre too hot or too cold to get to sleep, this is going to affect the quality of sleep you manage to get overnight.
Its also going to leave you feeling less than refreshed come the morning. Getting a comfortable nights sleep can be more challenging during the hottest months says Thom Hemelryk founder of the Drowsy sleep company.
Increased temperatures make it harder for us to drift off and mean we toss and turn more than the usual. But then sleeping with the windows open also increases outside light and noises that can keep us up.
Thom says the key to how to sleep in the heat is all about regulating your body temperature, Your body temperature naturally peaks in the evening and then drops when you are asleep. Even slight changes to your normal patterns can be disruptive. So, its important to be aware of your temperature patterns and prepare accordingly.
He suggests these 3 hacks for summer temperature control:
- Invest in a good fan, it keeps the temperature down and blocks out external noise.
- Sleep with a light cotton sheet instead of a quilt. If temperatures really soar, try rinsing it in water to keep you cool.
- Dont sleep naked as this could actually make you hotter.
- Have your own bedding! In the winter it might be great to cuddle up to your partner to keep warm, but in the summer the heat from your two bodies can make you more uncomfortable. Regulate things by having separate bedding for both of you.
Speak To Your Doctor To See If There’s Something More Serious Going On
If you’ve done everything on your checklist and you’re still exhausted, it’s time to chat with your doctor. “Some women are so fatigued because they have an underlying problem,” Dr. Dweck says. It could be an irregularity with your thyroid, a gland that controls your metabolism, which can cause fatigue, irritability, depressive symptoms, and weight gain.
You might be dealing with anemia, a blood disease that affects 3.5 million Americans, which is linked to women who have super heavy flows. Dr. Dweck even lists Lyme disease as a possibility, which would show up alongside joint pain and a rash. Heavy bleeding with a lot of clotting may also cause you discomfort, so it’s a good idea to see a doctor to help, Dr. Ross says.
Whatever the case may be, if your instinct is telling you to see a doctor about your ruthless fatigue, do it. You don’t want to go through every period so tired you can’t even get the smallest tasks done, and you definitely don’t have to.
Dr. Sherry Ross M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Alyssa Dweck M.D., OB/GYN
Cao, H., Pan, X., Li, H., & Liu, J. . Acupuncture for treatment of insomnia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine , 15, 1171â1186. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2009.0041
Okamoto-Mizuno, K., & Mizuno, K. . Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm. Journal of physiological anthropology, 31, 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/1880-6805-31-14ll
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Can Exercise Help Menstrual Cramps
Maybe. Researchers have found that some women have fewer painful cramps during menstruation if they exercise regularly.6 There are over-the-counter medicines for menstrual cramps or pain that work well with very few risks.7 There are almost no risks to regular physical activity, like walking, which may also help you feel better during your period.
Stopped Or Missed Periods
There are many reasons why you may miss your period, or why periods may stop altogether.
Some common reasons are:
- breast tenderness
Symptoms usually start and can intensify in the 2 weeks before your period, and then ease and disappear after your period starts.
Read more about PMS, including symptoms and treatment.
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How To Alleviate Period Sickness
If menstrual nausea has you feeling down, dont worry there are several ways to treat it. There are several possible causes of nausea during menstruation:
- Changes in the levels of hormones that sometimes initiate the overproduction of gastric juice, which contains hydrochloric acid
- Your bodys reaction to the release of prostaglandins, which cause cramping not only in the uterus but also in the stomach
You can make some dietary changes to help you with nausea. Avoid fatty or spicy foods , avoid intense odors, and stay hydrated. Ginger, chamomile, and mint tea may help calm your stomach. Take small sips of cold, clear, carbonated, or sour drinks.
You can also try an antacid. It can help alleviate symptoms by neutralizing hydrochloric acid.
Relieving the cramps may also relieve your nausea. Applying heat may reduce pain in your lower abdomen. Physical activity may also ease your pain in some cases.
If these methods are not enough, you can try over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine from your health care provider. Make sure to consult with your health care provider before taking any medication.
Does My Energy Level Change During My Period
It might. Some women report low energy levels during their period, while other women have more energy than usual during this time. Changing hormone levels through the menstrual cycle may be the cause.
Week 1: On the first day of your period, estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest. But they begin a gradual rise during your period. It may be easier to get active than in the previous weeks.
Week 2: In the week after your period ends, your energy levels might begin to go up. Estrogen levels begin rising quickly in preparation for ovulation .
Week 3: Estrogen levels peak around the time of ovulation, about two weeks before the next period for most women. When estrogen levels fall quickly after ovulation and progesterone levels begin rising, you may feel more tired or sluggish than usual. This does not mean that you should not exercise. In fact, being active might help boost your mood and give you more energy. Try exercising first thing in the morning, before your energy level goes down as the day goes on.
Week 4: In the week before your next period, you may feel less energy as both estrogen and progesterone levels are falling . Physical activity may help premenstrual symptoms get better even if your energy levels are low.
Try keeping a fitness journal to track your menstrual cycle and your energy levels during each workout. After a few months, you should be able to see when you have more or less energy during your cycle.
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Diet And Lifestyle Factors
There are some simple home remedies you can implement to give you the boost of energy you need around the time of your period.
- Diet is crucial Its really important to include lots of nutrient-packed fresh ingredients in your diet. Eat little and often to keep your blood sugar stable, generally 3 meals a day and healthy snacks in between work well for most people and ensure you include protein in every meal which can help keep you fuller for longer. Include plenty of iron-rich foods including dark green leafy vegetables, beetroot and beans. Ensure you are drinking enough water and avoid alcohol, refined sugar and caffeine too which will only upset your blood sugar levels
- Sleep Getting enough sleep is important to support your energy around this time. Aim to get 8 hours of sleep a night on average in order to feel refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead. This is especially when you are most likely to be feeling extra tired such as in the lead up to your menstrual period
- Do some exercise This might be the last thing you think would help if you are feeling tired but actually, exercise can provide you with the energy you need. Exercise gets your blood pumping and allows you to better utilise your energy stores. Exercise can also help you get a better nights sleep.
Ways To Fight Fatigue Before Your Period
Cramps, nausea, headaches, bloating, breakouts, fatigueâ¦ Your period really does a number on your body. The last one tends to hit you the hardest about a week before you get your period. You find yourself yawning during important meetings. Or you feel too tired to go out to dinner with friends. Or it’s extra hard to get out of bed in the mornings. The fatigue certainly doesn’t help the other PMS symptoms you have to deal with, either.
But why do we get so damn tired? Your body thinks it’s prepping for a baby and ramps up the hormone process. Yes, even if you’re nowhere near ready for a baby, your body does the work every cycle.
“The progesterone hormone peaks around day 21 of your cycle,” says Heather Bartos, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn and founder of Be. Women’s Health and Wellness clinic. “It’s just like when you first become pregnant and that progesterone hormone is super highâwomen literally fall asleep in their foodâso it slows you down, and some women become just super, super tired. There’s a physiological reason to get you ready in case you’re going to be pregnant.”
Maskot/Getty Images Sergey Filimonov/Stocksy
While you can’t exactly stop your body from doing this, there are a few steps you can take to feel less tired or increase your energy levels. Here’s what to try.
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How To Deal With Menstrual Fatigue
The first step to dealing with period exhaustion is to understand where its coming from.
While you might not be able to get to the bottom of it, there are some steps you can take to help you figure it out.
Consult Your Doctor
If your period fatigue feels unmanageable, or is greatly interfering with your daily period life, ask your doctor. Keep track of other symptoms youre experiencing like cramps, nausea, and bloating. Its also helpful to track when around your period you tend to feel the most tired.
Get Your Mineral Levels Tested
Your body depends on essential minerals, like iron and magnesium, to stay healthy and vital. When these are low, like in the case of anemia, period symptoms can be worsened.
Ask your provider about getting these tested. If they are low, taking supplements, and eating mineral rich foods, can help combat menstrual fatigue.
Avoid Caffeine and Sugar
While it can be awfully tempting to reach for a third cup of coffee and a sugary treat while on your period, it may be counterproductive towards your energy levels.
You may feel a short uptick of energy, followed by a big crash, making menstrual fatigue that much more unbearable.
Instead try drinking a mellow green tea, and munching on a sugar-free dark chocolate bar.
Theres plenty of holistic health modalities that have a variety of tools to help you manage menstrual fatigue, and other period symptoms.
While this may be easier said than done, try to plan ahead.