Have you ever felt strangely dizzy in the days before a period? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Although they may be less discussed than cramps and crankiness, premenstrual dizzy spells before a period are indeed a thing. Let’s break down the facts on why you may be feeling dizzy before Shark Week, plus what you can do about it.
Is dizziness before periods normal?
Dizziness is common in the second half of your menstrual cycle, after your ovary releases this month’s egg at ovulation. When and how this symptom begins in depends on the person: while some sufferers only experience it the day or two before a period, others find dizziness kicking in around as early as mid-cycle.
The severity can also vary, and even go along with nausea in some cases. In most cases, this kind of cyclical dizziness falls under the banner of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
What causes dizziness before periods?
Getting your period might be the most obvious sign of your menstrual cycle, but your body is going through a number of hormonal changes in the premenstrual cycle. When it comes to dizziness, the main culprits are thought to be changes in the hormones:
Estrogen and progesterone
Estrogen and progesterone have a see-saw effect over the course of your cycle. Estrogen levels peak mid-cycle, when you are about to release an egg cell, and then decline until your next period. After you mid-cycle, your body increase the production of progesterone: the hormone that gets your body ready to maintain a possible pregnancy.
When these hormone levels change, it may cause you to retain a little extra fluid throughout your body. This includes the sensitive fluid balance of your inner ear. Changes in this balance could make you more prone to feelings of vertigo and dizziness.
Insulin is the hormone that regulates your blood sugar. When estrogen is low and progesterone is high in the menstrual phase, it has a flow-on effect of lowering your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Your body pumps out more insulin to compensate and, as a result, your blood sugar level suddenly decreases, which can lead to the dizziness of a “sugar crash”.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemicals, which the uterine lining releases before and during a period to encourage muscle contractions. This helps slough off the uterine lining you will lose as a period, but if too many prostaglandins are produced, they can lead to symptoms like nausea, dizziness and painful periods.
Fighting dizziness before periods
Dizzy spells before a period might be annoying, but unless you have another underlying condition, it’s unlikely to be a sign of anything sinister. However, if you’re having trouble going about your everyday activities, or if it continues after your period, it’s best to see a doctor to work out what’s going on.
Even if your monthly dizziness is down to hormones, that doesn’t mean you need to chalk it up to “just being a girl”. Many women find the hormonal fluctuations that lead to PMS symptoms like dizziness clear up with birth control options, like the oral contraceptive pill.
Addressing an underlying hormone imbalance through changes to your diet and lifestyle habits could also help you feel more in control of PMS symptoms.
Is dizziness before periods a pregnancy sign?
It’s true that many new moms report feeling dizzy in the early weeks of pregnancy. However, it’s thought that this is down elevated levels of progesterone – the very same hormone that leaves you feeling dizzy before your period. Therefore, it’s not really possible to take dizziness as a sign of pregnancy before your period is due.
If you’re concerned, take a pregnancy test a week after your period is due to get a reliable result. If you need to know earlier, speak to your doctor for a more sensitive blood test.
Don’t let dizziness before periods leave you in a spin
Dizziness before a period is one of those PMS things. As your reproductive hormone balance shifts before a period, it can have a flow-on effect for other systems in your body and cause dizziness.
However, you don’t need to put up with PMS symptoms that interfere with your daily life. If you get severely dizzy before your periods, see your doctor. There are treatments to help you get back on your feet.