What is a period cold?
You may be familiar with the term ‘period cold’, which is used to describe symptoms many women experience in the run up to their period. Side effects of shedding your uterine lining don’t just include tummy cramps and back ache! All sorts of symptoms can present themselves, some more nasty than others. Signs of a cold might not seem like the end of the world, but if your period leaves you feeling exhausted, achy and sniffly every month, it can be a real drag.
Is a cold before your period a sign of PMS?
Pre-menstrual syndrome, or PMS, can be responsible for a vast number of nasty symptoms, and this could lie behind what you assume is a cold. It’s not uncommon to encounter a runny nose, sore throat and serious fatigue thanks to PMS. Plus, women who suffer from PMS can also experience symptoms ranging from achy pains and headaches to nausea and vomiting – all of which can also be signs that they have the flu!
So, it can be hard to tell what lies at the root of your symptoms. However, if you suspect that your cold-like symptoms are down to PMS then you can try keeping a symptoms diary for a few months. This will enable you to pin-point exactly what time of the month these symptoms tend to appear, and whether they occur in a consistent pattern or at random.
If your symptoms seem to follow the same pattern every month, PMS could be at play. Visit your doctor and take your diary with you. If you’re not using birth control, they may recommend you try something like the pill, which could help to alleviate PMS symptoms. If you are taking birth control medication already, they might recommend a different method which works better for you.
What can I do if I'm feeling run-down during my period?
Whether your cold symptoms are due to PMS or not, they can leave you feeling run-down and exhausted, so what can you do to help? Balance Mineral Drink can be mixed into a fruit smoothie or glass of water to give yourself a boost! It contains a sensible dose of vitamin D and zinc, which are great for your immune system, as well as magnesium and calcium which can give you a boost of energy when you need it most. Read my blog on how to fight fatigue on your period for more tips.
Am I more prone to a cold before my period?
Research suggests that you may be more susceptible to catching a cold right before your period, as your levels of certain immune cells, including regulatory T cells, for one, are reduced at this time.1 It is thought that your immune system is affected by sex hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone, which we know prompt ovulation and prepare the womb for a fertilised egg. As these hormones fluctuate, your immune function is slightly reduced just before you menstruate, and it then increases again once your period starts.
So, you may be more prone to a cold right before your period starts! However, from the first day of your period until around day 14, women tend to have higher levels of key immune cells, so may be better equipped to fight off these viruses. Therefore, it seems like it may be a matter of luck and bad timing.
In order to protect yourself and keep your immune system fighting fit, make sure to eat a diet full of brightly coloured fruit and veg, such as oranges, kiwi fruit and red bell peppers. These are full of vitamin C and antioxidants which feed the immune system. Read Dr Jen Tan’s blog on boosting your immune system through your diet to find out more! Plus, Echinacea Throat Spray is a convenient way of preventing cold and flu symptoms from getting worse; start taking echinacea at the very first signs of a cold.
Why is my cold worse during my period?
As we now know, research has found that our T cell levels increase during our period, which suggests that we are less likely to catch a cold during menstruation. So, why might a cold feel worse when you’re on your period?
Well, it’s possible that you actually caught your cold a few days prior and the signs haven’t yet revealed themselves. We don’t start to see symptoms of a cold until a few days after we are exposed to the virus, therefore it could just be an unlucky coincidence that your period starts just as your cold starts to worsen.
Or, your cold might feel even worse when you’re on your period because you’re feeling extra tired, run-down and generally rubbish thanks to your fluctuating hormones. So, although your period might not be to blame for your cold, it can be a lot to deal with on top of all the other possible symptoms and can make you feel even worse.
When should you see a doctor?
- If you have a high fever or more serious symptoms, such as a long-lasting cough, you should make an appointment with your doctor to rule out infection or the need for any antibiotics.
- If you suspect you might be suffering from PMS then your doctor can talk you through your symptoms and any treatment that might benefit you.
- If you have heavy periods or symptoms which have an effect on your day-to-day quality of life, then you should ask your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions such as endometriosis or PCOS.
Results: Which cold/flu symptoms do you get most often?
You could be more at risk of suffering from colds and flu before your period - 39.1% of you said that your worst symptom is a stuffy nose. Relaxing in a hot bath or shower can help to clear congestion and other period symptoms like stomach cramps or a sore back.