Some people even feel so sick right before or during their periods that they mistake their symptoms for signs of the flu: We’re talking tiredness, dizziness, chills, and full-body aches. As it turns out, hormones could be to blame. In an interview with Brit + Co., Nieca Goldberg, the medical director of NYU Langone’s Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health, explained, “Hormonal changes prior to your period can cause a range of symptoms,” including “fatigue, abdominal cramping, bloating, back pains, and other body aches.” The decline in your estrogen levels right before your period, she said, is the likely culprit.
Brit + Co. also pointed to doctor Molly O’Shea’s answer on UbyKotex.com to the question of why flu-like symptoms pop up before and during periods. O’Shea noted that prostaglandins, hormones released before your period starts to help dislodge your uterine lining, can lead to some pretty unpleasant symptoms, too, including “diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, a feeling of being flushed, and general achiness.” Fun.
Luckily, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and naproxen have been shown to combat some of this menstrual unpleasantness, especially the achiness. That said, keep in mind that according to the Food and Drug Administration, the maximum over-the-counter daily dose of ibuprofen is 1200 milligrams, and you should take the minimum amount you need to feel better.
Of course, you shouldn’t discount the possibility that you might actually have the flu or a cold when you’re also getting your period. And if a miserable period is getting in the way of you living your life, it’s worth speaking with your doctor about more long-term ways to feel better, such as going on a form of birth control that can alleviate symptoms.
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