Feeling a bit queasy lately? Nausea is a common complaint both before and during menstrual periods – but for some of us, tummy troubles can hang around even after Aunt Flo takes her leave for the month. Let’s look at the reasons you may be suffering from nausea after periods and what you can do about it.
What causes nausea after periods?
To understand why some women feel nauseous after periods, let’s take a look at the link between the menstrual cycle and your digestive system more generally. As you may suspect, many of the symptoms like nausea before and during periods is often caused by hormone changes. In this case, the culprit is thought to be prostaglandins.
Before your period begins, your body releases hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins. These chemicals trigger the muscle contractions that slough off the endometrium lining of the womb, which you shed as a period. However, high levels of prostaglandins can cause contractions on your stomach and gut, too. When this happens, you’re often left battling nausea and other digestive problems like diarrhea.
Usually, your levels of prostaglandins drop right back down as soon as your period ends. Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with another underlying condition such as hormone imbalance, prostaglandin levels may be elevated for longer. This means the nausea and gut problems can continue even after you’ve stopped bleeding.
Other possible causes of nausea after periods
If nausea after periods is something that affects you regularly, you may want to speak to your doctor or gynecologist about the following conditions.
Illnesses affecting your reproductive organs like endometriosis and uterine fibroids can cause nausea. These conditions often go alongside symptoms like irregular bleeding and lower abdominal pain, so see a doctor if you notice these and other symptoms which are associated with gynecological conditions.
Gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses
Even if your nausea seems to have a pattern of striking at the end of the menstrual cycle, it’s possible that symptoms are stemming from a problem in your GI tract. Gastroenteritis is a common cause of nausea. When your immune system is laid low during a period of stress, you may be more susceptible to GI illnesses and other nausea-inducing illnesses.
Is nausea after periods a pregnancy symptom?
Whether you’re trying to conceive or trying to avoid pregnancy, nausea after a period might leave you wondering if you’re dealing with the signs of morning sickness. However, when you get your period, you shed that last cycle’s endometrial lining – a sign that you were not pregnant.
The one exception here is if what you thought was a period was actually ovulatory spotting, or implantation bleeding. These kinds of irregular bleeding may occur when your body releases this cycle’s egg, or when a fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining.
Unlike a period, this kind of bleeding is usually very light in amount and color. If you bleed less than in your usual period and feel nauseous, consider using a home pregnancy test.
Managing nausea after periods
Nausea after periods could be your body’s way of telling you something isn’t quite right with your reproductive organs or GI tract. If you’re consistently queasy after your periods, see your doctor to work out what’s going on. Your nausea may improve once the underlying condition is treated. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help settle your stomach.
That doesn’t mean you’re powerless to fight post-menstrual nausea on your own, though. Once your doctor has ruled out other causes, you may want to consider boosting your intake of dietary fiber. Eating foods rich in fiber such as vegetables and whole grains can mop up extra prostaglandins.
A healthy lifestyle can prevent nausea after periods
A stress-free menstrual cycle starts with a healthy hormone balance. By following a nutritious diet and making sure you get the right balance of rest and exercise, you’ll be giving your body the best chance of maintaining a regular, healthy menstrual cycle.
By making a few lifestyle adjustments, you may be able to fight off some of the common signs of problem periods like nausea and stomach troubles. See a doctor to help work out the best way to tackle your symptoms. After all, you deserve to feel fabulous every day of your cycle.