Some women experience symptoms that may include stomach upset, bloating, fatigue, and headache during their periods. Doctors say that physical exercise may help to reduce these and other symptoms.
Cramps, spotting, mood swings and just feeling "blah" — getting your period is not exactly a party, no matter your age or activity level.
It definitely feels better at the moment to stay put on your couch rather than go to spin class, but doing your regular workout can actually help you feel better, alleviating headaches, fatigue, and even anxiety. It will help re-energize you as well as help with menstrual cramps.
Those of you who want to be active and work out regularly may be wondering about the effects of exercise on your menstrual cycle. Keep reading to find out more about what to expect from your body if you work out during your period.
The positive side
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.
In fact, women who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from PMS symptoms .
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, exercise can help to reduce feelings of depression. So, exercising may help to lift mood when a person has feelings of sadness, irritability, or anger during their period.
Hormonal changes in the body can increase the sensations of fatigue in people during their period.
Physical activity can boost energy levels instead of lower them during a period, according to the Office on Women’s Health.
If you’re someone who loves a good workout (or, for that matter, someone who would really rather stay home, but who forces yourself to go move your body anyway), it’s important for you to know how exactly exercise can affect your period.
If you suffer from painful cramping every month, you may find that regular exercise helps to provide some relief. According to experts, exercising releases endorphins, which can help relieve menstrual pain.
It produces analgesia [pain relief] and helps to burn the prostaglandins — chemicals released during menstruation that cause muscle contractions — much faster, doctors report.
To relieve period pain, try to focus on aerobic activities, like walking, swimming, running, or cycling (anything that gets your heart rate up and your blood flowing). Yoga also helps.
Unusual bleeding patterns
According to experts, exercise can make your period lighter, especially if you are thin or not taking in enough nutrition to fuel your body.
Participation in gym exercise or a soccer team usually doesn’t affect your periods. However, if you are very active and train hard (play an intense sport or exercise for hours at the gym), your period may be lighter.
When you exercise regularly, you may notice that your periods become lighter and lighter. Don't worry — this is completely normal, and it all has to do with the amount of estrogen your body is producing.
The more body fat you have, the more estrogen you produce, which stimulates the growth of the uterus lining and leads to heavier menstrual flow. When you work out regularly, your weight and body fat mass decrease, which results in less estrogen production and therefore, a lighter flow.
Excessive exercise is much more likely to cause your period to stop than trigger bleeding, but sometimes overly intense exercise, as well as stress and weight loss, can mess with your normal hormone function and cause spotting between periods.
You may also experience breakthrough bleeding during or immediately after strenuous exercise. It is speculated that the increase in abdominal pressure associated with some types of exercise may cause bleeding from submucosal uterine fibroids, endometrial polyps, and cervical polyps.
When you overdo it
Intense exercise can interfere with menstruation by triggering the release of stress hormones that mess with your body’s ability to release the hormones necessary for a normal menstrual cycle.
In athletes, intense training and quick weight loss can affect period. Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) in athletes is called exercise-associated amenorrhea.
Amenorrhea is dangerous because it is accompanied by abnormally low levels of estrogen in your system, and this lack of estrogen can cause you to develop brittle bones (aka, osteoporosis). That means that, even if you are young, exercise a lot, and are in good health, you have an increased risk of bone fractures now, as well as decreased bone density in the years going forward.
If you exercise a lot and your period has disappeared or become infrequent, talk to your doctor. They may be able to prescribe medication that will help supplement your estrogen and protect the long-term health of your bones.
Exercising affects your period positively in many ways. It can create a lighter flow, reduce PMS symptoms, decrease bloating and improve your sleep. However, it may also affect your energy levels, cause breakthrough bleeding and lead to missed periods.
If you suddenly start exercising and working out, you tend to miss your period. Exercise affects the menstrual cycle by elevating the metabolism. Metabolism is responsible for essentially sustaining chemical reactions in the body like menstruation.
Every woman is a bit different in how her body handles menstruation and symptoms may vary month-to-month, but the struggle can be real.
It’s always a good idea to keep track of your menstrual cycle so you can tell your health care provider when your period/cycles change. In any case – please do talk to your health care provider if your period changes.