Asthma and Your Period

Is it possible that there is a correlation between my periods and my asthmatic condition? Seems as though I get sick with an aggravated flu and asthma every month. Is there anyway to prevent this?

Medical researchers are beginning to seriously explore the connections many women have noted between their menstrual cycles and the recurrence of certain conditions such as asthma; whereas in the past (and still too often today) these connections were easily dismissed. Research has shown that flare-ups of conditions ranging from arthritis to migraines to yeast infections can be directly related to a woman's menstrual cycle. This has been attributed primarily to two things, the hormonal patterns of the menstrual cycle and stress related to menstruation. If a woman notices that certain health complications tend to recur at particular times of the month she should keep a diary of this pattern and bring it to the attention of her doctor or health care provider. Serious health complications stimulated by a woman's cycle can either be managed through hormone therapy or at least a woman and her doctor can better prepare for any flare-ups.

Women with asthma may experience an attack, or worsening of symptoms anywhere from 4 days before menstruation through the last day of their period. 30-40% of all asthmatic women report a noticeable increase in their symptoms prior to menstruation. The actual severity of the symptoms is not increased but the timing of the attack itself is stimulated by decreased levels of estrogen in the days before menstruation. For some women who are on birth control switching to a different variety of pill may make a difference in the occurrence of asthmatic flare-ups. Research has also shown that conditions such as yeast infections and herpes show themselves more frequently at certain times in a woman's menstrual cycle. In the case of herpes a woman's ability to predict the timing of flare-ups can actually help her better manage her condition.

Exploration of the connections between a woman's menstrual cycle and her general well being has also influenced the treatment of breast cancer. There is some evidence that the timing of breast cancer surgery may have an effect on a woman's chance of survival. Studies have indicated that women who have had surgery during the second half of their menstrual cycle have had greater success in beating the recurrence of cancer. This may be the case because of the relationship between breast cancer and estrogen. Performing surgery during times of the month where estrogen levels are lower may decrease the chances of cancerous cell growth.

This relationship between a woman's menstrual cycle and her increased risk for infection or flare-ups of existing conditions stems from hormonal fluctuations. But it may also be the case that stress associated with PMS and menstruation itself can also lower our immunity to illness. Stress itself is can be a health hazard, and as we all have experienced it can, leave us prone to getting sick.

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