Here's Why Your Migraines or IBS Get Even Worse During Your Period

Aug 8, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. ET
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Most individuals with periods, roughly 87 percent, experience symptoms with ovulatory menstrual cycles. Of those who experience more extreme side effects, many will choose to self-treat, with only 17 percent ever seeking medical attention. But it's also possible that your non-period-related health conditions get worse during or before your cycle — something known as premenstrual magnification.

The symptoms depend on the condition, but include premenstrual flare-ups of illness that are sensitive to fluctuations in hormone levels. For example, women who suffer from headaches, particularly migraines, may notice a flare-up in symptoms around the time of their period, Dr. Jennifer Wider tells HelloFlo.

More: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder May Be Linked to How Cells Process Sex Hormones

What should you look out for with magnification?


If you suffer from a depressive disorder or anxiety, your symptoms may be magnified during the premenstrual phase. Since moods do change all month, especially during PMS, there should be a clear differentiation of the mood condition.

Assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, Elizabeth Fitelson, says that “A woman with depression may notice her negative feelings are amplified right before her period starts.”


The luteal phase begins after ovulation and lasts around 14 days. Many women have an increase rate of infections during this phase. Premenstrual magnification can increase this rate even more. Genital or facial herpes, colds, flu-like symptoms, swollen glands and UTIs are all common infections that are prevalent.


During the luteal cycle, cramping is the most common symptom. However, women can misdiagnose IBS with cramping, which leads to pelvic pain. IBS can be aggravated during the luteal cycle.

Women already diagnosed with IBS can experience an intensified version the week prior to their period. Staying away from lactose, gluten, fiber, carbs and caffeine can help ease any magnification.

Functional hypoglycemia

If you have a poor glucose tolerance and it worsens during your cycle, you may have premenstrual magnification. Mood swings accompany low glucose, as it can cause irritability and cravings and enhance negative shifts. A proper diet for hypoglycemia is very important to stabilize sugar levels.

More: Here’s What Happens to Your Hormone Levels During Your Period

What types of self-care can help alleviate magnification?


High fiber, cabbage foods, salt restriction, sugar restriction and more calcium intake are all important to avoid aggravating any of the above symptoms. A hypoglycemic diet can help with poor glucose tolerance. The diet also helps individuals who have strong cravings during their premenstrual cycle.

Moreover, a productive diet includes avoiding alcohol, sugar and caffeine. The intake of these ingredients can further disrupt sleeping patterns.

More natural and herbal supplements are also a great choice for individuals with these symptoms. Evening primrose oil, St. John's wort and ginger tea may be beneficial to incorporate into one's vitamin intake.


To alleviate any pain, many individuals practice yoga or slower exercises for physical pain. Exercise can minimize negative mood change.

Moreover, to minimize stress or anxiety, meditation is incredibly valuable. Music relaxation and foot, ear and hand reflexology also help with joint pain. If you are experiencing severe premenstrual symptoms, these are some ways to better alleviate issues.

Think you have PMM?

“Women need to be aware of the existence of premenstrual magnification so they can take precautions accordingly,” explains Wider. “For example, if a woman suffers from menstrual migraines, then studies have shown she can be pretreated with a certain type of medication, which can lessen or possibly prevent the symptoms from setting in.”

More: Surprise — Period Hormones Don’t Scramble Your Brain

Before you self-diagnose, make sure to track your symptoms over the course of three months and rate them on a scale. Talk to your doctor and seek help if your conditions worsen.

By S. Nicole Lane

Originally published on HelloFlo.