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A woman’s menstrual cycle is an amazing intricate process that differs from woman to woman, it is the woman’s time keeper. It gives her the entirety of her biological clock calendar and it is easily affected by stress.
Flying especially across different time zones is a form of stress that affect a woman’s menstrual period. For the following reasons.
Traveling across time zones affects what is known as your circadian rhythm. This can be defined as “the physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow an estimated 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.” Once affected it disrupts hormone release as well as other key biological functions, this in turn affects the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These two hormones play a key role in ovulation and your menstrual cycle. There might not be an oestrogen spike leading to ovulation, or perhaps it becomes delayed due to the change in your body’s rhythm, so you will have a later period than normal that month.
Often times the reverse is the case. Though not proven this is often attributed to the added pressure you are exposed to when flying. Besides extreme temperatures the compressed pressure during the flight actually causes your blood vessels to thin and expand. It is quite painful and uncomfortable. This adds to the stress of your period especially if you are ovulating or close to that time of the month.
There is also the stress of the travel arrangement, packing and transportation not to mention the Jet-Lag which simply put is the displacement of your circadian rhythm that puts a strain on your menstrual cycle.
Studies have proven that flight attendants have irregular menstrual cycles.