9 Surprising Things You Never Knew Could Happen To Your Body On Your Period
There's no denying that being on your period can make you feel all sorts of interesting. You likely feel tired, and maybe a bit crampy — all symptoms that typically crop up during menstruation. But there are so many surprising things that can happen on your period to your body, that the list definitely does not stop there.
From an increased sense of smell, to getting drunker faster, women can experience a wide array of odd side effects and symptoms. And usually, that's all thanks to the hormones washing around inside your body. Keep in mind, though, that everyone's different. "Hormonal changes can be more disruptive to some women and not others," Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women's health expert and author of She-ology. The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health, tells Bustle. "Everyone experiences that time of the month differently." So if you don't experience any changes, that's OK, too.
The key is to manage the period symptoms that do occur for you, by taking care of your health and planning ahead. As Ross says, a "healthy lifestyle and dietary behaviors will definitely influence some of these less common and unusual symptoms." And by eating good foods, getting plenty of sleep, and getting out some stress — possibly by walking outside, doing yoga, or meditating — in the lead up to your period, you can get through that time of the month with ease. While more research still needs to be done, here are some of things that can happen during your period that you might not have known about, according to experts.
1. Getting Drunker Faster
OK, first things first, let's talk about drinking whilst on your period. Many women say that they get drunker — or at least drunker faster — during that time of the month. But science doesn't necessarily agree.
"It's a bit controversial if you are more prone to getting drunk faster during your period," Ross says. "Some believe that during your period your body is 'deflating' from the bloating and water retention that happens premenstrual. This loss of water weight combined with the loss of blood makes you more volume depleted. Drinking less alcohol may make you get drunk faster as a result of having less water/volume in your bloodstream. More studies are needed to make a real conclusion about alcohol's affect during a woman's period."
Although research is still inconclusive as to whether this is fact, if it happens to you, be aware of where you're at in your cycle while drinking, and try pacing yourself.
2. Feeling The Need To Clean
Ever feel the need to clean during your period? Like, more intensely than you usually do? "While a pile of dishes in the sink may be totally OK on most days, they [might not be OK] while menstruating," Dr. Aumatma, a holistic fertility specialist, tells Bustle. "The reason for this is the sudden drop of progesterone and estrogen, which trigger several things. First, the progesterone drop signals a 'nesting response." In theory, this nesting response is a biological need for a mother to create a safe space for a baby while pregnant, Dr. Aumatma says. But when coupled by a drop an estrogen, it may lead to the desire to clean. "The drop in estrogen on the other hand, also causes a shift in neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin. Low serotonin levels have been connected to obsessive-compulsive type behaviors. So, the drop in estrogen and progesterone create the perfect storm for you to buzz around the house cleaning and organizing."
3. Experiencing Queefs
"Queefs" are an interesting phenomenon that many women report happening more often during their period.
And there's a good reason why. "Women are more prone to queefing during their period since tampons are going in and out of the vagina, bringing additional air along with it," Dr. Ross says. "The only way for the air to escape the vagina is through the same door, creating a sound like expelling gas from the rectum." Fun times!
4. Suddenly Being Able To Smell Everything
If you've ever felt like your senses are heightened during your period — giving you near-magical abilities — you might be right. As Dr. Ross says, "You may have a heightened sense of smell during your period due to the hormonal changes." So if you're suddenly bothered by every little smell in your apartment, or can instantly tell when your neighbor three doors down is baking cookies, this may be why.
5. Not Being Able To Fall Asleep
Ever notice how it's difficult to fall asleep during your period, despite the fact you're exhausted? "Hormonal changes during a period can make sleeping a challenge," Dr. Ross says. So don't be surprised if you lie awake well into the night.
Do, however, get up from bed and try to reset. If you're having trouble falling asleep, it can help to go in another room and do something relaxing — like reading a book — until you feel tired again. Afterward, hop back into bed, and you should be able to drift off.
5. Waking Up Drenched In Sweat
According to Dr. Ross, "night sweats can wake women up in the middle of the night, further complicating a restful sleep." So if you can't make it through the night during your period without soaking your sheets, know that you're not alone. But if sweating at night is becoming a problem for you, talk with your doctor about possible causes, as well as how to address the issue.
6. Having Gastrointestinal Issues
It's also fairly common for women to experience gastrointestinal issues (GI) during their periods, too.
"There is some research suggesting that women experience more diarrhea during their menstrual cycles," Dr. Shaughanassee Williams, DNP, CNM tells Bustle. "There are two thoughts behind this: hormonal changes during periods may cause GI changes and/or the contracting that causes uterine cramps also pushes more poop down your bowels."
7. Feeling Extra Hot
Again, thanks to hormones, you might have trouble regulating your temperature. "The drop in estrogen will make you extra sensitive to temperature," Dr. Aumatma says. "It may cause the feeling of hot flashes. However, you may also feel particularly cold while menstruating, which is a combination of low progesterone and a potential iron-deficiency." The best way to deal is to dress in layers for the day, so you can peel off sweaters and put them back on again, as you so please.
8. Not Being Able To Think Straight
If you struggle with intense brain fog during your period, you're definitely not alone. "Because of the drop in estrogen and progesterone, your adrenals kick out more cortisol, which pretty much puts you in fight-or-flight mode," says Dr. Aumatma. "This response of your adrenals makes it more challenging to think clearly, and remember details." So if you're feeling foggy at work, or like you can't express yourself properly, give yourself a few days and it'll pass.
9. Having Weird Cravings
It's typical to feel hungrier in the lead up to your period, as your body prepares to potentially get pregnant. "Intuitively, your body knows that it needs extra nutrients while menstruating and that usually manifests as a signal to eat a little more than usual," Dr. Aumatma says. That's not surprising.
What's surprising is what your body craves, and why. If you crave chocolate, Dr. Aumatma says that's a sign you may need more magnesium in your diet. If you're wanting meat, you may need more iron. And if you want chips and ice cream, it's likely a sign you're craving carbohydrate-rich comfort foods, so go ahead and have them.
Taking great care of your health is one of the best ways to feel more balanced during your period. But even with that, it's still OK to experience some of these surprising symptoms. So just laugh them off — and maybe do a little cleaning — until you come out the other side, and start to feel like yourself again.