Does Flying Affect Your Period?
Does Flying Affect Your Period?
Unless you are a lucky one that the period gods have completely blessed, it’s more than likely you experience at least some sort of unpredictability when it’s your time of the month. In everyday life, we, as strong, independent women, have simply learned to adapt to our cycle’s strong, independent force. When you add in travel, though, things can start to get messy.
Traveling, especially flying, can be stressful enough, but it can be challenging when you compound it with your period. If you’re like the rest of us and wondering, does flying affect your period? We’re here to break it down to the nitty-gritty details for you.
How Your Period Works
Before diving deep into the world of flying through periods, we must touch on period 101 first.
Your cycle is regulated by the hormones released by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, both of which are located in the brain. As you can imagine, disruption to your regular emotional or physical health will play a significant impact on your brain’s normal function, and therefore its ability to regulate your cycle correctly.
Disruptions to your emotional and physical health may include changes in your diet or exercise, lack of sleep, and stress, which ultimately affect your hormone balance.
Since ovulation requires proper hormone balance, any irregularities to this delicate process can become instantly noticeable in your period.
Flying on Your Period
Now that we know how our period works in greater detail, let’s shift the focus back over to flying and how that can play a role in the whole process. Think about it - is there anything that truly impacts your physical and emotional health more than a flight? When you consider things like stress, lack of sleep, and changes to diet and exercise, you can essentially check all the boxes in one go.
And, when we look at it from a more scientific approach, we know that there are numerous hormones involved in the regulation of your period, but two of which tend to be directly associated with flying; melatonin and cortisol.
It’s nearly inevitable that you will have to take an overnight or early morning flight in your travels at some point. Combining that and flying through time zones can be a lot more impactful on your cycle than you might realize. Any changes to your natural sleeping cycle can directly impact your levels of melatonin, ultimately shifting your ovulation schedule.
In addition to melatonin, increased stress levels cause fluctuations in your cortisol levels. In some, the stress might be evident in flying, while it might be a bit hidden for others. We naturally tend to overlook some of the common stressors associated with flight, when sometimes it begins before you even get to the airport.
Common stresses may include making sure you’ve packed the right types and amounts of items, traffic commuting to the airport, and worries about missing your flight. Then, when you add in the stress of commuting, flying, and traveling on or around your period, that stress can increase tenfold.
Pros and Cons of Birth Control In Flight
While you might be thinking you’re safe because you’re on hormonal birth control that helps to keep everything regulated for you, you are only partly correct. In short, yes, your hormone regulation will be more consistent with the help of your contraceptive, but you have to be very careful.
For example, if you are on a hormonal birth control pill, you will have to remember to take your pill simultaneously in your home time zone. Changing time zones or skipping pills while in flight (because, let’s face it, keeping track of time while flying is just downright confusing) can immediately cause problems for your cycle regulation.
In addition to being cautious with your birth control when you fly, you’ll also have to be mindful of other risks as well. Hormonal birth controls, including the pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring that contain estrogen, put women at a higher risk of blood clots, which is increased even more so in flight. Thankfully, the risk is still relatively low, but it’s essential to be mindful of and make sure you are moving your legs around regularly while you fly.
What Does Flying Do To Your Period?
Based on science, it is clear to say that flying does play a role in your period. What that looks like, though, maybe different for everyone. Needless to say, if your period starts early, late, or doesn’t come at all, it might not necessarily mean it’s time to panic if you’ve recently taken a long flight.
Understanding the role of stress and hormone levels on our body and our periods is the first step in understanding the relationship between flying and your period. While extreme irregularities, such as a late or missed period, might typically be cause for concern, you might be able to link it back to your most recent flight.
Of course, if your period comes late and you think there might be a possibility you are pregnant, there is never any harm in taking a test to be sure. But, if your period has been otherwise normal and pregnancy just doesn’t add up, you can likely thank the hormone changes you experienced on your last flight.
Tips to Stay Regular
While we appreciate individuality when it comes to periods, I think it’s safe to say we all want to stay as regular as possible, whatever that may mean to us. That being said, here are a few tips to help you prepare for your next flight and staying as regular as can be:
- Maintain your sleep habits
- If you are on the pill, take it at the same time every day
- Stick to healthy eating and exercise
- Drink lots of water
You can also follow some period hacks while traveling to help with some of the common stresses that come along with period management while abroad.
Above all, don’t let the stresses or fears of flying with your period ever stop you from doing what you want or need to do. Thankfully, today there are plenty of options readily available to help us confidently conquer each day on the ground or in the air. Always be prepared with your trusted tampon or menstrual cup, when in doubt, so nothing can stop you from soaking up those rays poolside, drink in hand.
Gone are the days of fearing your period while traveling!