Ever wondered whether travelling affects your menstrual cycle? Well, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking so…

We’re all aware that jet lag messes up our sleeping patterns, but how does it impact our menstrual cycle?

When you travel overseas, particularly to a place where there’s a dramatic time difference, your internal body clock – otherwise known as your circadian rhythm – gets thrown off. Your circadian rhythm influences hormone release and other important bodily functions so, when it’s out of kilter, this can impact your levels of oestrogen and progesterone, both of which play a key part in ovulation and your menstrual cycle. Disturbing your circadian rhythm may cause a delay in the oestrogen spike that leads to ovulation, so you’ll have a later period than normal that month.

Not only can jet lag affect your period but it might cause all kinds of other changes in your body – irritability, exhaustion, stomach upset and a lack of appetite.

It’s not just international travel that might upset your flow – any changes in your sleep cycle can have an effect on your period. If you start working night shifts, for example, or find yourself having trouble sleeping for a short time, then you might begin to notice some changes to your menstrual cycle.

Your menstrual cycle is also sensitive to stress: even if you’re not flying across a continent, travelling can come hand in hand with a ton of general tension – again, this could trigger a change in your period.

When you travel, whether it’s for a couple of days or a fortnight, your diet often changes. You might eat the local cuisine every night, maybe you’re consuming way more carbs and starchy foods than you’re used to, perhaps you’re busy working or you could be drinking more alcohol than usual. All of these things can have an effect on your hormones and your period.

If your body’s used to regular exercise and this suddenly changes, then that might have an impact on your period too.

So basically, yes. Travel can affect your period. If your period’s late this month and you’ve suffered a little jet lag combined with a change in your eating habits and general lifestyle, then travel could be the cause.

Try not to worry too much if your menstrual cycle has fluctuated a little, though – remember, your body is very receptive to its surroundings.

If you do want to keep tabs on your cycle and make sure you’re having normal, regular periods, there are lots of tools and apps online that’ll help you do just that. Read our Guide to the Best Fertility Apps to find out more!

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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