7 Signs You Have Too Much Inflammation During Your Period

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Menstrual symptoms are already painful enough as they are, but when your body is inflamed, everything can feel much worse. It can be hard to pinpoint the source of your period woes, but sometimes the root of these issues is excess inflammation. There are a number of signs that indicate you have too much inflammation during your period, and recognizing these symptoms can help you make the right choices to help make your period a bit more comfortable.

"Inflammation can make menstrual cycle symptoms seem much more significant and more severe," gynecologist Jessica Vaught, MD of the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, tells Bustle. "If PMS becomes severe, it can have many effects on a women’s life. Pain can impact her ability to work, ability to take care of her family responsibilities, and ability to take care of herself."

Inflammation can occur for a number of reasons, including diet, lack of sleep, stress, etc., so managing your habits may be able to help bring down inflammation and alleviate some of your unwanted symptoms. Engaging in stress-reducing habits and managing your blood sugar are just two ways you can help combat inflammation, and make your period — and the time before your period — less painful and distressing. Here are seven signs you might have too much inflammation during your period, according to experts.

1Breakouts

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Frequent breakouts are often a telltale sign your body is inflamed. Acne can indicate gut inflammation, as a result of nutrient deficiencies or diet, gynecologist Felice Gersh, MD, tells Bustle. "We know that hormones have a great impact on the gut microbiome, and of course the hormones are shifting throughout the cycle," she says. "Estrogen is especially beneficial to the gut microbiome, and the levels are lowest during the second half of the cycle (the luteal phase) and during the period itself. Acne breakouts tend to occur at those times, more than at ovulation or just prior, when estrogen levels are peaking."

2Heavy Flow

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Heavy bleeding is another sign that something is amiss. "There is no absolute way for the average woman to measure blood loss," says Dr. Gersh. "That said, how many pads or tampons are soaked during the day is a good guide. If changing a soaked pad or tampon more often then every two hours is needed, there is excessive blood loss. If the heaviest days of a period last more than two days, that is excessive bleeding."

3Muscle & Joint Pain

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"Oftentimes this symptom is experienced by women who are suffering underlying pain caused by arthritis or previous injuries," gynecologist Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG, tells Bustle. "Most days they can tolerate this, but during and right before their period, the inflammatory markers which help release the menstrual blood may cause a flare in these symptoms."

4Diarrhea Or Nausea

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Another common marker of too much inflammation is digestive issues. Since our gastrointestinal organs are anatomically close to our reproductive organs, they can be affected by our cycle changes. "The most common way an excess amount of inflammation manifests itself in our GI system is usually diarrhea and possibly nausea," Dr. Vaught says.

5Pelvic Pain

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Pain that extends beyond your typical cramps can also be an indication of inflammation — and possibly endometriosis. "Women may have pain that feels different than menstrual cramps," Dr. Vaught says. "If a woman has a condition called endometriosis, she can feel pain that is exaggerated during her cycle. Endometriosis is a very inflammatory condition where there are implants of endometrial tissue within the pelvis." If your period cramps are severe and debilitating, be sure to speak to your doctor.

6Mood Swings

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Inflammation can even affect your mental state. "When our hormonal levels shift to allow our body to have our menstrual cycle, women can experience mood swings," Dr. Vaught says. "Sometimes, these mood swings are subtle and can be controlled, but in other patients, they can be very pronounced and might even require intervention if a women feels she cannot control her behavior during this time."

7Dizziness and Headaches

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If you have a tendency to feel lightheaded and faint during your period, inflammation may be to blame. "Inflammation can lead to increased cortisol levels that can give a woman a variety of symptoms, including sugar cravings, headache, dizziness, and fatigue," Dr. Vaught says.

To help with inflammation during your period, try to maintain healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet, staying active, and managing stress. And if symptoms still persist, talk to your doctor about them.