Can Traveling Affect Your Period? How to Handle Flying on Your Cycle
Posted byDiane Hoffmaster
Traveling is always a bit stressful. Between the chaos of packing, booking reservations, and finding someone to house-sit, there’s an awful lot of tension in your life right before a big trip. The stress alone may throw you off your game, but what about the flight itself? Can traveling affect your period? What do you need to know about the effects of air travel on your menstrual cycle?
In the Air
Flying in an airplane creates a change in air pressure to which your body needs to adjust. Even though the cabin is pressurized, there are still fluctuations in air pressure that may affect your body. That’s why you feel your ears popping during takeoff and landing.
A study of menstruation in airline attendants, published in Neuroendocrinology Letters, suggests that flight attendants seem to suffer from a higher incidence of irregular menstruation.1 However, the researchers conclude that the irregularities are not caused by actually being in the air, rather the flight attendants’ unconventional work hours and shift work.
Jet Lag Woes
One thing that does seem to play a part in messing up your menstrual cycle is jet lag. The changes that your body goes through as you move from one time zone to another creates hormonal changes that result in symptoms of jet lag. Those same hormones may also cause irregularities when it comes to your menstrual cycle.
According to Health, when you travel to another time zone, your body releases the sleep hormone melatonin as if you’re still at home.2 It may time for your body to adjust to the new time zone. These fluctuations in melatonin may increase a women’s susceptibility to mood disruptions associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), according to the Public Library of Science.3 (PMDD is a severe form of PMS, defines the U.S. National Library of Medicine.)4
So, Can Traveling Affect Your Period?
The final answer of whether traveling affects your period is still up in the air. The authors of the studies about flight attendants and melatonin and PMDD admit that more research with larger sample sizes and control groups should be conducted for more conclusive results. To be safe though, when it comes to traveling with your period, be prepared. If you’re due for your period, get on the plane stocked with pads and tampons. Remember to have them in your carry-on! They do you no good when they’re packed in your checked bag. Dealing with menstrual emergencies in a tiny airline bathroom isn’t easy, but you can do it! Relax, have a plan to combat jet lag, and enjoy your adventure.
1Małgorzata Radowicka, MD. “Assessment of the occurrence of menstrual disorders in female flight attendants – preliminary report and literature review.” Neuroendocrinology Letters. October 9, 2013. http://www.nel.edu/archive_issues/o/34_8/34_8_Radowicka_809-813.pdf
2Kiera Aaron. “10 Things That Mess With Your Period.” Health. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20837452,00.html#traveling-across-time-zones-1
3Ari Shechter, Paul Lespérance, N. M. K. Ng Ying Kin, Diane B. Boivin. “Pilot Investigation of the Circadian Plasma Melatonin Rhythm across the Menstrual Cycle in a Small Group of Women with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.” Public Library of Science. December 19, 2012. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0051929#s1
4“Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024721/
- Posted by Diane Hoffmaster
- On June 30, 2017