What May Be Causing You To Faint During Your Menstrual Cycle

During your menstrual cycle, there are a number of symptoms that you can experience. These can include acne, bloating, tenderness and swelling in the breasts, and cramps. In addition, you can suffer from premenstrual syndrome, commonly referred to as PMS. In addition to the aforementioned symptoms, PMS can also include symptoms such as mood swings, problems with concentration, and insomnia.

Another symptom that can occasionally impact women on their period is lightheadedness, dizziness, and, in some cases, fainting. While a slight amount of lightheadedness during your menstrual cycle is nothing to be concerned about, there can be a number of underlying conditions that could be causing it. These can run the gamut from a reaction to cramp-related pain to something more pressing, such as anemia (via Healthline). Depending on the frequency and severity of your lightheadedness, and how often it is accompanied by fainting, you may want to consult with your doctor to see what could be behind it.

One nerve in your body could be to blame

A potential cause of fainting during your period is a condition known as vasovagal syncope, which causes you to faint in reaction to a triggering incident. When the vagus nerve, which is connected from your brain to your abdomen, becomes overstimulated, it can cause a drop in your blood pressure, which can lead to lightheadedness and fainting (via Self). A number of period-related symptoms can cause your vagus nerve to react, including stress, cramping, and changes in your hormones. During your period, if you feel you may be susceptible to vasovagal syncope, it's a good idea to stay hydrated and take steps to help keep your symptoms minimized. 

Vasovagal syncope is very common among women who are menstruating. A 2017 study published in the Cardiology Journal showed that premenopausal women were twice as likely to faint during the first half of their cycle than postmenopausal women were. In addition, a 2013 study published in Clinical Autonomic Research showed that women with vasovagal syncope suffered the most periods of lightheadedness during their periods.

Healthy eating can be a big help

Another potential culprit for fainting while on your period could be due to prostaglandins — the chemicals throughout the body that are released during menstruation, explains Dr. Jolene Brighten. They cause the muscles of the uterus to contract, allowing the body to shed the uterine lining, also known as the endometrium. One effect of prostaglandins can be vasodilation, according to the Cleveland Clinic, which can cause lightheadedness and dizziness and lead to fainting.

During your period, your blood sugar level can fluctuate due to the changes in hormones. In some cases, this can lead to hypoglycemia, which can cause you to feel lightheaded. According to Dr. Felix, this can affect both people who are diabetic and people who aren't. As such, it's a good idea to keep your blood sugar under control, avoid foods that are high in sugar, and eat a well-balanced diet. If you're feeling dizzy or have had any fainting spells during your period, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor so that he or she can determine the cause and help you to manage the symptoms going forward.