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Can a Cold Delay Your Period?

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Can a Cold Delay Your Period?

Is your period late again? You can look at a couple of culprits. First, there’s stress, which can throw off your hormones and change your schedule. Losing weight can also impact your menstruation and even result in skipped cycles. It’s best to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis if you’re regularly experiencing odd menstrual shifts and you’re below 45 and aren’t pregnant. However, there may be other triggers, such as the common cold. You heard it right: There is supposed to be a link between a delay in your period and the sniffles. Do you think it’s just a fishwives’ tale? Read on to find out.

The immune system and the common cold 

First, let’s talk about how your body reacts when experiencing a cold. 

The common cold is caused by different viruses, especially rhinoviruses, which are most active in winter. Although symptoms differ from person to person, the typical symptoms include a low-grade fever, sore throat, cough, slight body aches, fatigue, and chills. These symptoms occur as your immune system responds to the cold virus. One of the critical  responses is the release of inflammatory substances, such as histamine, prostaglandins, and cytokines. 

As a result, your blood vessels become enlarged, leading to congestion. In addition, more mucus is produced to trap infection-causing irritants, making your nose run. Sneeze and cough mechanisms are also triggered to get rid of infectious agents. And, of course, there’s inflammation, which activates pain nerves. This is also an essential part of your body’s healing process.

How can a cold delay your period?

So, can a cold delay your period? The answer is yes—but not always. How your menstrual cycle is affected by sickness depends, to a large extent, on your body’s ability to handle the stress from the infection as well as the severity of your condition.

The sicker you are, the more stressed your body is. This means an increase in the energy requirements of your immune system so that it can function optimally. This way, it can better deal with the stressor symptoms. Also, when you’re down with a cold, your immune system raises your body’s heat (which is how you get a fever). As your temperature increases, so does your body’s demand for energy. 

Now, one week after menstruation begins, your basal metabolic rate or BMR (the rate at which energy is utilized by the body to maintain vital functions) will be at its lowest level. This means you don’t need a whole lot of energetic expenditure at this point. However, from rock bottom, your BMR steadily rises until the start of your next period. This is the energy-intensive portion of your cycle when your body works laboriously to grow a new nutrient-dense uterine lining for the anticipated fetus.

But then, the equally hardworking responses of the immune system to fight infection require a shift in the allocation of energy resources. The result is a possible decrease in the energy that supports period-related physiological changes. This is perhaps why a cold may delay the onset of menstruation. According to one study, in the event of a severe illness, “your body can temporarily divert energy from the reproductive system to the immune system.”

Getting “out of the cold”

Yet, there’s no need to fret. There are several effective ways to tackle your “cold” dilemma and its impact on your menstrual cycle. One is to nip it in the bud through preventive measures. 

If you’re having symptoms already, then it’s best to seek relief. Lastly, nurture your body and keep it in fighting form.

Prevention is better than cure—always.   

Here are some helpful hacks to fend off a viral infection:

  1. Wash your hands frequently with water and soap (for a minimum of 20 seconds each time). Always bring an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in cases of emergency.
  2. Avoid unnecessarily touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  3. Physically distance yourself from individuals exhibiting cold symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing.

Deal with the symptoms.

The common cold doesn’t have a cure and typically goes away on its own. What you’ll want to do, though, is treat the symptoms so that you can feel better.

  1. Get plenty of rest.
  2. Drink a lot of fluids, especially water.
  3. Over-the-counter medicines can reduce the severity of the symptoms. Make sure you read the label through and use them as directed.
  4. See your doctor if your symptoms worsen or last more than ten days. However, you may want to readily consult with your physician if you have underlying health conditions such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes.

Practice self-care.

Give yourself some serious love with these easy-to-do TLC tips.

  1. Get at least seven hours of sleep every night. If you’re in your teens, you need to have at least 8 to 10 hours worth of Zzzs.  
  2. Eat more plant foods, such as fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and seeds packed with pathogen-resisting antioxidants. In addition, the fiber in these plant foods nourishes the good bacteria in your gut to boost immunity.
  3. Indulge in foods like olive oil, salmon, and avocados, which contain healthy fats. These enhance your body’s ability to defend itself by reducing inflammation. 
  4. Maintain an ideal weight by cutting down on sugars and refined carbs. Obesity may make you more vulnerable to infections. 
  5. Manage your stress levels. Stress-relieving activities include yoga, light to moderate exercises, laughing, and journaling. Taking regular short breaks and scheduling vacations are also effective destressing methods.

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