Being on your period can cause a whole array of turbulent emotions. One minute we’re sad, the next we’re practically Hulk-like. If you’re anything like us, being on your period also brings on the urge to cry even if it feels like there’s no reason for it.
Turns out that biologically speaking, there are reasons why we want to cry all the time when we’re menstruating.
But before you worry, Dr Zahra Ameen, consultant gynaecologist at the Cadogan Clinic tells us that it’s “very normal” to experience this.
It’s a part of PMS, which around 75% of women experience to varying degrees while on or around their period.
“PMS symptoms can be emotional and can include mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and sadness. All symptoms are normal and usually pass fairly quickly,” Dr Zahra says.
Though it passes, it sucks to go through it. So here’s how you can understand better what’s actually going on.
Why do I cry all the time on my period?
Narendra Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology says a lot of the issue is down to hormonal fluctuations.
“Ovarian hormones change in a cyclical way and some of the hormones (particularly progesterone) can affect your mood significantly. This can make you feel low, emotional and can make you feel like crying for no reason.
“During the luteal phase (day 14-28) progesterone levels start rising after ovulation and will continue to stay high if there is a pregnancy. In the absence of pregnancy, progesterone levels start falling and a period will start when the hormonal support is withdrawn.
“Progesterone related symptoms are common which can include low mood. We don’t know why some people get more symptoms than others. It may be to do with sensitivity to some of the ovarian hormones and also the level of fluctuation of hormone levels. If these symptoms are affecting your work, life or relationships please do see your GP,” he explains.
Essentially, it’s kind of out of your hands how much you’re affected by these hormonal changes, as some people will get their periods without going through a wave of emotions.
Is there anything medically speaking you can do to help it?
Narendra says: “Using the combined contraceptive pill is one of the commonest ways of over-riding ovarian hormone fluctuations and is often useful in reducing (and sometimes completely eliminating) PMS symptoms.
“Taking vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and herbal supplements such as ‘evening primrose oil’ tablets can also help. Nutritional experts advise cutting out caffeine, sugar and dairy.
“It is helpful to be aware of when the symptoms may start and to have a supportive family and colleagues ready.”
How about lifestyle changes?
These things won’t change or get rid of any sadness you’re feeling, but they might help you manage it better. Dr Zahra Ameen advises:
- Exercise in a way that’s managable while on your period. Most people won’t feel up to a HIIT session, but a calming yoga practice or stretch can help. Serotonin is released when we exercise, helping to regulate mood, increase happiness and reduce anxiety. Exercise also helps us sleep better and supports the body to do other vital functions
- Maintain a healthy diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables with low in refined sugars and processed foods and drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated
- Minimise alcohol consumption which can have a negative effect on mental and physical health
- Engage in creative and social activities to keep active and busy. A problem shared is a problem halved – it’s always good to speak with others who are going through the same experience so you don’t feel alone and can share and develop coping mechanisms
- Employ calming practices such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and deep breathing