Heart palpitations and menstrual cycle

Heart palpitations and menstrual cycle

How do heart palpitations change during menstrual cycle?

Palpitation is an unpleasant awareness of an abnormal heart beat. It can be a symptom of a variety cardiac disorders or cardiac arrhythmias. They can happen to a woman in all ages, especially when pregnant, during menstrual cycle or menopause.
Studies have shown a relation between heart palpitations and menstrual cycle.

Hormonal changes during menstrual cycle cause changes in the female body, and causing also palpitations, among other symptoms.
To properly understand how palpitations occur during a woman’s period is necessary understanding the menstrual cycle and its phases.

The menstrual cycle has three phases: follicular phase, ovulatory phase, and the luteal phase. An average lasts menstrual cycle 28 days (from 21-35 days). The first half of it, called follicular phase, is characterized by abundant amount of estrogen hormone.

The second half of the menstrual cycle, called luteal phase, is characterized by increased amounts of progesterone.

In the end of the menstrual cycle, if pregnancy has not occurred, levels of both estrogen and progesterone drastically drop, and thus the woman has bleeding.

Heart palpitation during menstrual cycle mostly occurs in the luteal phase, where the estrogen levels are low and progesterone levels are high. So, decreased estrogen level and increased progesterone levels can cause heart palpitations.

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How do menstrual hormones affect heart rate?

Heart rate during menstrual cycle is affected by hormonal fluctuations. Menstrual cycle is been reported to modulate the autonomic nervous system (parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system). Palpitations occur most during luetel phase, in which estrogen levels are low and progesterone levels are high.

The Parasympathetic system, which dominates in the follicular phase, increases awareness of the heart beating and sympathetic system, which dominates in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, stimulates the heart to beat faster and harder. These changes are reported to trigger heart palpitations during menstrual cycle.

More specifically, the way hormonal fluctuation affects heart rate, by causing palpitations, is as follows:

1.    The increase of progesterone in the luteal phase causes the heart to beat faster and harder, by increasing thus the possibility of an aberration in the heart rate, causing palpitations.

2.    The decrease of estrogen in the luteal phase modulates autonomic nervous system leading thus to occasional increase awareness of the heart beating, so palpitations.

3.    This two hormones, affect also the pituitary gland (part of the brain) one of the main functions of which is controlling the emotions. Mood swings, very common experienced during menstrual cycle due to this hormonal imbalance can cause palpitations.

How to overcome palpitations?

Heart palpitations during menstrual cycle are completely benign, and are caused by hormonal fluctuations.

They can be eased by taking into consideration some simple advises:

1.    Reducing caffeine intake, because it can worsen the palpitations

2.    Limiting the consumption of stimulants such as nicotine and alcohol because they worsen palpitations

3.    Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or breathing exercise, to reduce stress and control the mood swings, which might trigger palpitations.

If palpitations are accompanied with other symptoms like chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, going to the doctor is an urgent matter, because they can be symptoms of life-threatening diseases such as heart attack.

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