Are you feeling under the weather? If you are, did you know that this could be linked to your period? Our hormones play a significant role in controlling our lives. From estrogen to progesterone to even testosterone, they all fluctuate, and when they do, it causes our body to change and adapt to those changes.
While this seems normal on a day to day basis, what if we told you that your menstrual cycle and fluctuation of hormones could play a role in your chronic illnesses? Interested in knowing how? Let’s find out!
Before we can go into how chronic illnesses might be affected by your menstrual cycle, we should probably discuss chronic diseases. A chronic illness or condition is one that lasts longer than three months. They are also characterized as conditions that are unable to be prevented through vaccines and can’t just disappear on their own. With this definition, you can probably think of a few chronic illnesses, some of the most common being lupus, asthma, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
When it comes to our menstrual cycle, there are two phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase. The follicular phase is when you can expect your period while the luteal phase begins with ovulation. Both these phases play a role in the menstrual cycle and in turn, can affect your immune system. During the follicular phase, estrogen is rising, and when it comes to fighting off viruses or infections, this is when your body is at its prime. During this phase, your system is filled with antibodies, and while this might be great for fighting infections, it might not necessarily be great if you’re living with a chronic illness.
One of the most common ways that our body fights off infections is through inflammation. If you get a mosquito bite or a bee sting, you’ll notice that the area will become red and swell up. This is in response to your immune system fighting against the foreign object. During the first phase of your menstrual cycle and during the days of your period, the body is more prone to inflammation due to your immune system and your antibodies being ready to kick arse. While this might be great for staying healthy, this can exacerbate conditions like rheumatoid arthritis where the person is already dealing with excessive inflammation in their joints.
While the immune system is ready to kick butt during the first phase of your menstrual cycle, the second phase is where you might get slightly anxious. As progesterone increases in the body, this actually suppresses the immune system which in turn suppresses your body’s response to infection. While you’d most likely be free from dealing with inflammatory responses that could exacerbate chronic illnesses, this means it leaves your body more susceptible to infections.
As women, our menstrual cycle and our periods have a lot of control, but if you’re living with a chronic illness or condition, it has even more control. Instead of fretting, speak to your doctors! It’s possible that you never even knew that your period could affect your life in such a way so make sure you speak to them about how you can better prepare yourself through each phase of your cycle.