Period Dizziness: Why It Happens And How To Deal With It
Periods are an incredibly powerful thing. If lived not through cultural stigma, but through the magic of cycle awareness and the power of the Moon, they can be a robust inner guidance system and a compelling healing tool. However, most of us have learned about our own bodies through a typically patriarchal view of the world, and as a result, we often confront our stigma with every monthly bleeding.
Period awareness is an effective muscle to stretch, as the more we get to know our bodies and what makes us feel good, the easier it will be to recognise when something is not right.
Lightheadedness during your period, for example, can be a possible indicator of irregularities in your blood or your hormones, and it’s something not to dismiss. Let’s find out what it is and what can cause it!
Period Dizziness: is it normal?
As with many other period side-effects, it depends on the type of symptom, its severity, and its frequency. It’s often perfectly normal to experience a little dizziness during your period, but if it happens every month or if it’s serious enough to be debilitating, you should look into possible causes and treatments.
It’s particularly important to look out for any other symptoms occurring at the same time as a dizzy spell, including fainting, irregular heartbeat, nausea, shakiness, headaches, and temporary vision loss.
Why you experience dizziness during your period
More often than not, the leading cause of dizziness is anaemia, a common condition also known as low haemoglobin. It is defined by a mild or severe “lack of enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body's tissues,” which in turn can make you feel tired and weak.
The brain is very sensitive to miniscule changes in oxygen levels in the blood, and when concentration lowers, it quickly causes dizziness: this is the brain’s way of “sounding the alarm” so you can stop, rest, and start receiving more oxygen again. If you experience heavy flow during your period, or suffer from a more severe case of anaemia, menstrual blood loss can be enough to trigger such a response.
Painful cramps, unfortunately, are another common period reality and a cause of dizziness. Dysmenorrhea (severe or debilitating period cramps that occur when your uterus tenses to shed its lining) can cause dizzy spells along with nausea, fatigue, bloating, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
Dizziness before your period
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS, the causes of which are still unknown, where “normal” PMS symptoms get so debilitating as to interfere with your daily routine and activities. You might experience lightheadedness as a result of it, but also mood swings, difficulty sleeping, bloating and breast tenderness, anxiety and irritability, extreme fatigue and sometimes extreme sadness. Symptoms usually disappear within two to three days of your period starting.
Best ways to deal with dizziness during your period
Hydration is key to maintaining your blood pressure regular, and you should ensure drinking plenty of fluids during your period to minimise dizziness. Moving slowly, especially when getting up from a seat, and getting plenty of rest, is always recommended to anyone with low blood pressure and anyone suffering from frequent dizzy spells.
Eating an iron-rich diet is always important and should be a regular habit, but during your period, it’s vital. Foods like meat, fish, broccoli and kale, or even iron supplements, are your best chance of lessening the symptoms of possible anaemia and coping with repeated dizzy spells. Making sure to eat regular meals is another important factor, as skipping a meal will lead to weakness, nausea, and shakiness.
You could also learn different breathing techniques and exercises known to help with the pain of menstrual cramps, the temporary lack of oxygen, and preventing lightheadedness. Lastly, ginger is a known natural remedy to treat nausea and motion sickness: you can take supplements, drink ginger tea, or add fresh ginger to your homemade meals.
Could it be unrelated to your period?
Yes! Unless it happens regularly, just because you feel dizzy during your period it doesn’t automatically follow that the two things are connected. There are many varied causes to dizzy spells, including motion sickness and balance disorders, strokes and Ménière’s disease, and certain heart conditions.
Prescription and over-the-counter medication are another common cause of dizziness: drugs used to treat heart problems, asthma, high blood pressure, ADHD and other mental health conditions are known to often list weakness and dizzy spells among their side effects.
Hypoglycemia, the term used to refer to low blood sugar, can also make you feel faint and weak. Diabetes sufferers are often diagnosed with it, but a drop in insulin can really happen to anyone, at any time throughout their menstrual cycle.
When to see a doctor
Sporadic dizzy spells are quite normal and nothing to be worried about.
If you’re experiencing them often, or start experiencing them after starting a new medication, you should talk to your GP about them and make sure to assess their cause and possible treatment. Should your symptoms get worse, or prevent you from living out your daily routine and normal activities, you should let a doctor know straight away.
If you suspect you might be suffering from toxic shock syndrome (TSS), lightheadedness is one of the earliest signs to look out for. It is a rare but life-threatening disease, and you may have heard of it when you first started using tampons: it can occur if you forget to remove a tampon or leave it in for too long. Other symptoms to look out for include chills and high fever, rashes on your feet and hands, headaches and nausea, vomiting and seizures. Toxic shock syndrome can worsen quickly and requires immediate emergency care, so if you suspect you have it, call 111, your GP, or a local out-of-hours service as soon as possible.