What Is The Connection Between Lupus and My Painful Periods?
Last updated: May 2023
Getting that time of the month sucks for every girl. But dealing with a period can feel even harder when you have lupus. I always joke that it’s either a blessing or curse, depending on who you ask.
Each person experiences different things during that time of the month. But, as for me, I dread it when it is that time of the month. Ever since my lupus diagnosis, the weeks leading up to and during my period have been 10 times worse than what I experienced prior. The worst part is that some of these symptoms can overlap with pregnancy, pre-menstrual, or just a regular flare. So there are times when I’m like second-guessing if it is lupus or is it something else.
The Lupus Foundation of America reports, "Hormones are the body’s messengers and they regulate many of the body’s functions. In particular, the sex hormone estrogen plays a role in lupus. Men and women both produce estrogen, but estrogen production is much greater in females. Many women have more lupus symptoms before menstrual periods and/or during pregnancy, when estrogen production is high. This may indicate that estrogen somehow regulates the severity of lupus. However, it does not mean that estrogen, or any other hormone for that matter, causes lupus."1
My PMS symptoms
I usually start to experience symptoms when I start to ovulate. Usually, it’s like clockwork. My breasts will start to get super sore, and my back will start hurting. It feels as if I ran a marathon, and this can last right until the day I get my period. So this feeling could last a week or more. My breasts sometimes hurt so bad that I need to wear a sports bra 24/7, even to sleep.
There have also been times when I wake up, and my joints are stiff, but throughout the day, it goes away. I experience bloating or get an upset stomach. A day or 2, right before I am about to get my period, I feel nauseous, start cramping, or have diarrhea. Lupus fatigue lasts at an all-time high. My body becomes too tired, and a nap is in order before you know it. I either become very hormonal and cry or get irritated, usually in my car on the highway.
During my period with lupus
During my period, the cramps can be especially horrible in the beginning. Some days, it gets so bad that I need either an ice pack or a warm compress to help ease the pain, along with Tylenol. Heavy bleeding often happens within the first 3 days, too. I also now have anemia, one of the symptoms that got me diagnosed with lupus.
How I am managing my periods with lupus
Currently, my cycle lasts 4-6 days and usually occurs every 26-32 days. Depending on my lupus activity and my level of stress, it fluctuates. There have been months when it would go over the normal time period, and I took pregnancy tests. But, it was always negative. So, I would wait until I finally got my period. Because of my lupus, I also now track my symptoms and how long I get my period. This way, I also have a reference when I have to talk with my doctors.
This or That
Have your periods/symptoms changed after your diagnosis?
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?