Period flu

Have you ever noticed that the telltale signs of your period’s arrival seem suspiciously like flu symptoms? If so, you’re not alone!

Many women experience what has become colloquially known as ‘period flu’ – a range of premenstrual symptoms that mimic those of the flu.

In this blog, we’ll look at what period flu is, why it happens, and what you can do to manage the symptoms.

What is Period Flu?

While ‘period flu’ isn’t a term officially recognised in the medical world, it describes the symptoms many women experience alongside PMS.

PMS generally occurs five to seven days before menstruation starts, and eases once it begins. Period flu could last from a few days up to two weeks, intensifying around two days before your period begins. The main symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Back pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

The severity of these symptoms can vary from mild to severe, and in some cases, they could prevent you from carrying out daily activities.

Why do some women experience Period Flu?

Scientists aren’t sure why period flu occurs in some women. However, it is known that hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle are likely contributors. For example, oestrogen and serotonin are thought to be responsible for symptoms like fatigue.

Lower levels of oestrogen, besides affecting serotonin, can prompt the release of norepinephrine in the brain. This in turn can lead to a decline in vital brain chemicals like dopamine and acetylcholine, potentially leading to symptoms such as fatigue and insomnia.

Studies suggest that some gastrointestinal issues experienced during menstruation, including cramps, pain, and diarrhoea, might occur due to the immune system’s response to higher levels of prostaglandins. These hormone-like substances are present throughout the menstrual cycle, but peak during menstruation, causing an inflammatory response.

Lifestyle choices can also influence symptoms. Diets rich in processed foods, alcohol, fried food, caffeine, and sugar can be a contributor. Poor sleep hygiene and a lack of regular exercise can also exacerbate the symptoms, according to research.

Managing PMS symptoms

If you suffer with period flu symptoms, making a few lifestyle changes can help. According to preliminary studies, a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and seafood, can help manage the symptoms. Adding calcium-rich foods such as milk and yoghurt to your diet may also be beneficial.

A study published in the Taiwan Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that consuming 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily helped reduce PMS symptoms, including fatigue, changes in appetite, and depression.

While period flu symptoms are common, they could be a sign of an underlying problem. To ensure you receive the best possible treatment to address the cause of your symptoms, book a gynaecology scan with SureScan today.