Everything You Need To Know About Period Flu

If you've ever felt legitimately sick right before getting your period (we're talking nausea, aches, and feeling feverish), you might get what some experts call the "period flu," according to The Healthy. While it's not actually the influenza virus, it can mimic some of its symptoms in the time between ovulation and a menstrual period, making for a pretty rough premenstrual time.

It's not a formal diagnosis, but for some people, the period flu is real (via Women's Health). Symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, body aches, headaches, joint pain, and even fever. During ovulation, progesterone and estrogen surge, then decline when you don't get pregnant and get your period. That drop in hormones — estrogen, in particular — can cause symptoms typical of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and can contribute to period flu symptoms.

What's more, chemicals called prostaglandins are released when a period arrives, which helps the uterus shed its lining and can cause cramping (via The Healthy). Prostaglandins are also inflammatory, so if your body is overproducing them, it can aggravate an inflammatory response and lead to more intense symptoms. This increase in inflammation can also be caused by poor sleep, unmanaged stress, lack of physical exercise, and nutrient deficiencies.

Why would might be feeling so poorly

The menstrual cycle can be a good indicator of overall health, so if you're getting a period flu each month, you might need to take some preventative measures before symptoms develop (via Women's Health). First, it's important to stay hydrated, as dehydration can exacerbate symptoms. This also means cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, too. Make sure you're getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, as poor sleep can contribute to inflammation and hormonal imbalances. You can also try to get some regular physical activity, especially around the time of your period flu.

If your symptoms are intense, you can take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or naproxen ahead of time. This can be useful for symptoms like headache, achiness, and joint pain. If you get the period flu regularly and are concerned about hormonal imbalance, you can also talk to your doctor about taking hormonal birth control to help keep hormones more level.