Your period is a normal function of your body. How your reproductive system is functioning can be an indicator of a bigger health issue. So it’s natural to be concerned if your very regular cycle is sometimes thrown into chaotic late, or abnormal heavy or even extreme light flow. Of course the first thing you wonder if your cycle changes or a period ceases to happen, is whether you are pregnant. But you might also start wondering if you have an illness. The truth is that if your period is late or you missed it all together while traveling, it’s probably JUST the traveling.
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Your Period and Travel
There are lots of different ways that travel can affect your menstrual cycle, but today let’s start off with the biggest of them all, your circadian rhythm. You’ve probably heard this term used before, and you may or may not know what it is. Simply put, your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural, inner time clock. It’s what tells you when to go to sleep, when to wake up, when certain hormones are released, and other important bodily functions.
Jet Lag and Your Circadian Rhythm
Jet lag and the resulting disruption to your body’s natural cycle can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle. A jet covers a lot of distance in a short amount of time. Even traveling from coast to coast can throw your body clock off somewhat. But when you travel for extremely long distances across multiple time zones – like an overseas trip – your period goes nuts.
You step off the plane, and your body says, “Hey, it’s way past your bed time. Get some sleep!” However, the new time zone says, “Hey, traveler’s body, it’s really mid-day. Not time for sleep yet.” Now your body is producing too much of one thing, not enough of something else, and it’s just a hormonal disaster. Depending how severe the jet lag, the length of the trip, and your normal body rhythm, you could be looking at a late period or no period altogether. In fact, flight attendants frequently have irregular cycles due to this disruption.
A Cocktail of Travel Issues Affecting Your Period
Along with the huge circadian rhythm disruption that comes from long flights, your period can also be affected by other factors. Although these factors aren’t usually enough to trigger an irregular period on their own, they can work in conjunction with one another to screw up your cycle. And generally speaking, many of these do occur at the same time.
Stress is a major cycle disruption if it ramps up high enough. While traveling is an adventure, like any adventure, it has its share of stressful situations.
I don’t know about you, but when I travel, my diet takes a hit. It’s really a combination of being too busy or distracted to eat when I should, followed by eating all sorts of new flavors form the area – and usually too much of them. This causes a wild roller coaster of calories, nutrients, and food varieties to flood the body.
Too much or too little exercise can be a contributing factor to your period going wonky. If you take the couch potato route and move less than you normally do, you’ll decrease certain hormones and increase others. The same can be said if you decide to be Super Woman for the day and climb a mountain.
Your Period Can Change When You Travel
Generally speaking it’s not a huge cause for concern! Although your period may get a little wonky, it’ll work itself back out when you return to your normal routine. The disruption to your sleep cycle, changes in diet and exercise, and a possible increase in stress will all work themselves out eventually, and your period should return to the regular flow and timing.