Unusual Menstrual Cycle Symptoms to Watch For

Mood swings and bloating are well known menstrual cycle symptoms, but fluctuating hormones could also contribute to these changes in your body and behavior.

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You're more likely to injure your knees.

You're more likely to injure your knees.Petar Chernaev/iStock
Women are more than twice as likely to get ACL injuries as men, and these injuries are likely to occur just before and during menstruation, reports Shape.com. The reason: Australian researchers found that women’s knees move differently during various points in their menstrual cycles, and that there was less control of movement during menstruation than during ovulation, which occur about two weeks apart in a normal cycle. This could mean letting your knee collapse inward when you land, explained Timothy E. Hewett, PhD, director of the Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Research Foundation.

The good news: Shape reported that when Hewlett’s team gave women additional training focused on reducing the load on their knees and building up strength and coordination, their rates of ACL injury, ankle injury, and knee cap pain dropped by 50 to 60 percent.

You could develop gum disease.

You could develop gum disease.Hakan Kızıltan/iStock
“The gingival tissues have lots of estrogen receptors that respond to hormonal fluctuations,” Susan Karabin, DDS, past president of the American Academy of Periodontology, told Women’s Health. “As a result, you may see symptoms appear in your mouth in accordance with your menstrual cycle.” She notes that high estrogen levels in the days before you get your period can lead to swelling and make teeth cleanings more painful. For the same reason, she recommends getting any dental procedure, such as wisdom teeth yanked or a cavity filled the day after you get your period, when estrogen levels are lowest, so gums are less sensitive.

Your cholesterol levels might rise.

Your cholesterol levels might rise.svanhorn/iStock
According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers recently discovered that levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream fluctuate with levels of the hormone estrogen (which changes throughout the menstrual cycle). As HealthDay reported, “good” HDL cholesterol rises as estrogen levels rise, peaking at ovulation. At ovulation, total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides began to fall, reaching their lowest levels just after women started getting their periods. Some experts believe the findings suggest that if patients are debating whether to start taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, their doctors should take cholesterol readings over a period of a few months and average the results to make sure the numbers aren’t overly influenced by hormonal fluctuations.

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You might suffer from odd coughing, wheezing, or be short of breath.

You might suffer from odd coughing, wheezing, or be short of breath.kzenon/iStock
Especially important news for women with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory conditions: new research done in Norway has found that symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath also change during the menstrual cycle. In a study of more than 4,000 women, researchers found that participants reported more wheezing in the middle of their cycles (days 10 to 22), as well as more shortness of breath (days 7 to 21). For women with asthma, or those who smoked or were overweight, symptoms of cough spiked right after ovulation (days 14 to 16). The findings may mean that women should tailor their therapy for respiratory issues according to their menstrual cycles—they may need more or less medication, for example, during various stages.

You could be more reckless with your money.

You could be more reckless with your money.Eva Katalin Kondoros/iStock
If you’re trying to tighten your purse strings, don’t shop when you’re ovulating. A study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology shows that women are more likely to splurge on clothes during their most fertile time of the month—presumably to impress potential suitors. Ladies were also more likely to spend more time primping and grooming on these days (days 8 to 15, roughly). A separate study also found that women subconsciously “dress to impress”—buying sexier clothing—when they’re about to ovulate. 

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