Does Your Period Affect Blood Pressure?

A woman has her blood pressure taken by another person, using a blood pressure monitor band.

The symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) can differ from person to person, but some people of menstruating age report issues like dizziness, headaches, and nausea around their period. In some cases, these symptoms can actually be due to a change in blood pressure, leading many people to wonder:  is there a link between the different stages of the menstrual cycle, and irregular rises or drops in blood pressure?

In this article, we’ll summarise helpful research into how periods can affect your blood pressure, and share some tips to manage your blood pressure, alongside your menstrual cycle.

So, does your period affect your blood pressure?

The short answer is, yes. Researchers have found evidence that on average, blood pressure tended to be at its highest at the onset of a person’s period. Therefore, the day that their period begins, it is typically accompanied by elevated blood pressure.

The full menstrual cycle includes the weeks when a person is not on their period, and researchers also found that blood pressure was at its lowest between days 17 and 26 of the person’s cycle. The menstrual cycle begins on the first day of the woman’s period (which typically last between 5 and 7 days). Therefore, towards the end of the menstrual cycle, and normally a few days before the person’s period begins again, a drop in blood pressure was observed.  

These changes were found in both people with standard and non-standard blood pressure rates prior to the onset of their period. Although these blood pressure changes tend not to affect every person in the same way (with many participants in these studies not feeling any significant effects from their changing blood pressure), some people are more sensitive to these rises and drops. 

Although in most cases, blood pressure fluctuations are fairly normal and can be influenced by a number of other lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep patterns and activity levels, they can also have unwanted side effects. If you experience dizziness and nausea around your period, we’d recommend seeking advice from your GP to see if this could be due to blood pressure changes, or if there may be another reason for your symptoms.

Research into Periods and Blood Pressure

Most researchers are in agreement that there is enough evidence to confirm a link between changes in blood pressure, and different stage of the menstrual cycle. We have gathered some of the best-known studies into periods and blood pressure, and will summarise their findings below. 

Blood pressure and the menstrual cycle (Greenberg et al., 1985)

This 1985 study by Greenberg et al. is one of the earliest research experiments done into the relationship between blood pressure and the menstrual cycle. The research team performed a retrospective analysis of data gathered from 207 women of menstruating age, who were not pregnant at the time of the study. The key findings were as follows: 

  • Blood pressure did appear to vary throughout the menstrual cycle, in accordance with which stage of the cycle the participants were in.
  • This study found blood pressure to be on average at its highest between days 17 and 26 of the menstrual cycle, which was between two and three weeks after the first day of the participant’s period. This is also when progestogen levels are typically at heir peak.

Researchers came to the conclusion that endogenous progestogen might have a hypertensive effect (e.g. causes a rise in blood pressure). However, on a second repetition of this study, researchers were unable to replicate the results, which may impact the reliability of the Greenberg et al. study.

Changes in blood pressure during the normal menstrual cycle (Dunne et al., 1991)

A later study, performed by Dunne et al., further investigated the links between blood pressure levels and the menstrual cycle which were posited in the Greenberg et a. Study. The 1991 Dunne study into blood pressure during the normal menstrual cycle was conducted on a sample of 30 normotensive women (women with a history of standard blood pressure levels), and 10 women with mild hypertension, or high blood pressure. 

The findings were as follows:

  • Blood pressure was found to be higher at the onset of the period, in both normotensive and hypertensive women (contradicting the finding of the first Greenberg study).
  • Blood pressure was also found to be at its lowest between days 17 to 26 of the menstrual cycle, in both groups of women.

Therefore, the Dunne study found almost the opposite to be true of the earlier 1985 study, where blood pressure was shown to be at its highest at the onset of the woman’s period (day 1 of her cycle) and reach its lowest point between days 17 and 26 of the cycle. Based of later research, most studies have supported the conclusions found in the 1991 study by Dunne et al.

Premenstrual Syndrome and Subsequent Risk of Hypertension in a Prospective Study (Bertone-Johnson et al., 2015)

Now that a link has been established in the medical community between blood pressure and the menstrual cycle, more recent studies have focussed on the impact of the menstrual cycle and hypertension. There has also been a suggestion that certain PMS symptoms could predict issues with hypertension in later life. 

In a study by Bertone-Johnson in 2015, it was discovered that people who experience moderate to severe PMS symptoms are 40 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure. They were also at a higher risk of hypertension than those with fewer or no PMS symptoms. This is when taking into account other, outside factors that are commonly linked to developing hypertension, such as obesity, overuse of alcohol or tobacco, lack of exercise, or the use of birth control pills or hormone therapy. It also made sure to cover factors like genetic predisposition to hypertension, so no one slipped through who might have had it simply because they were more likely to get it.

The study also found that this link between high blood pressure and periods is especially strong in people under the age of 40. For people in this age group, the odds of developing high blood pressure are actually three times as high for those who aren’t. Unfortunately, subsequent studies haven’t yet identified why this happens, so the best recommendation experts can give is to talk to your doctor and get your blood pressure checked if you have more serious PMS symptoms.

There is actually something good that can be taken from this study; there is a way around the possibility of hypertension. People who had a significant intake of B complex vitamins (such as those found in dark green vegetables) didn’t experience this increased risk of high blood pressure. The only thing is, the vitamins aren’t stored by the body, so it’s important to ensure that you’re getting them regularly through either supplements or (more naturally) through your diet.

Periods, lifestyle, and hypertension

So, there you have it ‒ there is an established link between hypertension (or at least high blood pressure) and the menstrual cycle. Although high blood pressure may be linked to your menstrual cycle, it’s possible that lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise may also be at play.

Here are some things you can do in your daily life to make sure your diet and your habits are less likely to be a factor in developing high blood pressure. These include:

  • Taking in less salt; it causes the body to retain water, increases blood pressure, and is terrible for bloating when you get PMS
  • Making sure you’re drinking enough water; it reduces bloating
  • Cutting down on the coffee, alcohol, and sugar
  • Eating enough complex carbohydrates; things like fruit and vegetables, whole grain bread or pasta, pulses, and brown rice ‒ some of these foods help with period cramps, too!
  • Managing stress; this can be done in the way that suits you best, but we’d always recommend taking up yoga. Again, there are even some yoga positions that help period cramps!
  • Getting enough sleep; experts all agree you should get somewhere between 6 and 8 hours
  • Exercising for thirty minutes a day, at least 5 days a week

Keeping as comfy as possible on your period

We believe in helping every person with a period to relax, no matter what they can expect from their menstrual cycle. That’s why we’re here to provide super-soft, super-absorbent pairs of period pants for any kind of flow!

All of our fabulous pairs are made using the same sleek-yet-practical multi-layer technology, making them breathable, moisture-wicking, and leak proof, while keeping them totally discreet! Just slip them underneath any outfit you’ve planned to wear and no one will be any the wiser; because they’re reusable, you can even put them straight in the wash when you’re done.

You’ll even get to take advantage of a fast, free UK delivery when you buy all your favourite pairs from us, so what are you waiting for? Browse through our collections and find all the undies that will keep you feeling fresh and secure, no matter what kind of cycle you’re having, today!