Periods and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Let’s talk about periods, or more precisely how periods can affect M.E patients. Apologies in advance if this is too much info but I think we need to talk about how M.E affects every aspect of life. We can’t just talk about the stuff we are comfy talking about publicly. Foggy also wants to learn everything he can about how M.E affects his P.A…that means everything!

Patients’ M.E can be affected by anything that uses energy and makes our bodies move internally or externally. Everything and anything from dancing to stress can cause significant fluctuations in our M.E symptom severity. ‘Everything and anything’ includes how a woman’s body changes during her period. Periods are powerful, stuff moves about during a period and that movement whether emotional, hormonal or physical has an impact on an M.E-affected body.

I’ve written in a previous blog about how my M.E takes a hit around one week before my period starts. I feel even more vapour-like than usual. I go through the week in an almost zombie-like state and function even less than usual. Brain fog turns into brain mud, it’s even harder to have a coherent thought process! There is often no obvious reason behind it but I do have an ‘oh that’s why’ lightbulb moment the second my period starts. Without fail, every month, my M.E takes a significant hit. Strangely, once my period has started I regain a tiny bit of my usual energy. It’s almost as if a pressure valve has been released. But then, of course, you have the usual period rubbish to deal with: painful cramps, achey/painful breasts, mood swings, bloating….great! These period symptoms also impact my M.E so I can’t win! Periods have a negative impact on my M.E for just under 2 weeks every month.

M.E  patients know that any kind of emotional mood swing can affect our M.E. Don’t get too excited, nervous, stressed, angry, anxious, or upset or you’ll have a flare! How many of us have told another M.E patient to take it easy and try to relax because you know what’ll be coming if you don’t! Periods naturally bring about moodiness. Often, we have no control over these mood swings and it’s something we just have to give in to. That, of course, will knock our M.E for six. How many of us have been tearful and upset only to suffer post-exertion malaise 2-3 days later? I know I have.

Now that I am on the cusp of peri-menopause I am noticing that hot flushes are more frequent than ever before. This is particularly an issue for my inability to regulate my temperature (an M.E symptom). I massively overheat and my M.E  likes to play with me by alternating my temperature between on fire and icy! I started my period yesterday, last night I had been overhot for at least 4 hours and then almost instantly my body turned icy and I was shivering. It took me ages to warm up enough to go to sleep. My body worked hard to try and regulate my temperature so I know, with every fibre of my being, that I will have PEM in a few days time.

I have noticed over the past 2 months that my sugar/caffeine-free diet has lessened the hormonal impact of my periods. I don’t seem as ‘out of control’ as I have been previously. My mood fluctuations don’t seem to be as much of a rollercoaster. I also don’t seem to be as bloated which can only be a good thing! This month’s period almost caught me out because I didn’t have any tears or emotional upset during the week before. I’ll let you know if that positive change is a permanent one, especially if it means my periods have less of a hormonal impact on my M.E.

Love Sally

and Foggy (OBVIOUSLY)

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