90% of women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Most women experience mood swings, cramps, and sometimes cravings. However, one symptom that could cause some concern is heartburn.
Heartburn is a common gastrointestinal problem that affects millions around the globe. Although it can happen at any time, some women experience it before their periods.
So, is it something you should feel concerned about? This article explores the causes, symptoms, and solutions of heartburn before the period. Read on to find out more.
Before diving into the relationship between heartburn and the menstrual cycle, it is crucial to understand the former.
Heartburn is a painful, burning sensation you can feel in your chest or throat. This occurs when the acid from your stomach flows back into the esophagus. This results in irritation or inflammation, or better described as a burning sensation in your chest.
Heartburn usually occurs when a person overeats or lies down immediately after a meal. Having a poor diet can trigger a burning sensation, too. However, some women notice a connection between heartburn and their menstrual cycle.
The Menstrual Cycle and Heartburn
Regulated by hormonal changes, menstruation is a complex cycle. The changes affect different body organs, including the gastrointestinal tract. During the premenstrual period, a few factors can trigger heartburn.
Female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, play vital roles in the menstrual cycle. Each of them can affect body functions, including the digestive system. Although they go in different directions, these hormones bring the same effect.
After the ovulation period, your estrogen level decreases, and your progesterone increases. When this happens, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms activate, causing discomfort. They can also affect the tone and function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Stomach acid flows back with ease into the esophagus when your LES weakens, resulting in heartburn.
Bloating is one of the more annoying parts of being a woman. Bloating is a result of fluid retention from hormonal changes, and it can sometimes lead to heartburn.
Fluid retention puts pressure on your stomach, increasing the chance of acid reflux. When not relieved, this can result in heartburn.
During a menstrual cycle, it is normal for women to crave different foods. You may indulge in guilty pleasures, such as high-sodium foods, like chips and pizza, or caffeinated drinks. Unfortunately, this combination can trigger heartburn.
If your heartburn symptoms persist, seek medical evaluation. Left alone, heartburn can damage the delicate tissues in your body. You may end up with internal damage like ulcers or esophagitis.
Symptoms of Heartburn
Like other PMS symptoms, heartburn can differ from one person to another. Understanding the differences is crucial to managing and addressing your GI issue. The following are a few of the common heartburn symptoms.
Burning Sensation in the Chest or Throat
A searing, burning sensation from your chest to your throat is a common sign of heartburn. This sensation can range from mild to intense. Factors like the severity of bloating and the food you eat can influence the severity of heartburn.
For some, heartburn can feel like a gentle warmth, and others experience a sharp burning pain. Heartburn can also last between a few minutes to a few hours.
Regurgitation of Stomach Acid or Food
Regurgitation is a distressing symptom of heartburn. It involves the involuntary passage of stomach acid or digested food back into the esophagus. In some cases, it even reaches the mouth.
When you begin to feel the acid in your throat, avoid bending or lying down. Allow yourself to digest your food properly for at least an hour before lying down.
Discomfort or Pain in the Upper Abdomen
Discomfort or pain extending to your upper abdomen is another symptom of heartburn. This is a result of irritation in your lower esophagus or the spasm of the esophageal muscles. In this case, a weak LES can trigger this kind of pain.
Some women describe the feeling as a gnawing pain, pressure, or bloated feeling. In some cases, the discomfort can radiate to your back or between the shoulder blades. Beware of this sign because it resembles symptoms of other medical conditions.
Getting Rid of Heartburn
Do you regularly experience heartburn before your period? Here are some heartburn solutions:
Change Your Diet
To manage heartburn, start with modifying your diet. Find out which foods trigger your symptoms.
Spicy, fatty, and acidic meals can cause heartburn and make it worse. Instead, go for lighter and non-irritating foods.
It would also help to drink plenty of water. Doing so can dilute stomach acid, reducing the risk of heartburn.
Apart from food, there are other triggers to avoid. Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can amplify heartburn symptoms.
Stress is another known trigger for heartburn. With this, engage yourself with relaxing activities. You can practice yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to reduce stress.
If your heartburn symptoms become unbearable, it is best to opt for medication. Fortunately, some over-the-counter medicines can provide relief for heartburn.
When you go to the pharmacy, ask for medicines with antacids, H2 blockers, and a proton pump. These chemicals neutralize stomach acid, giving relief to your symptoms. Talk to the pharmacist or consult your doctor for the right dosage.
If you prefer natural remedies, try licorice, ginger, and chamomile tea. Some individuals find relief from drinking these herbal remedies. If you want a more effective, safe option, consider the GerdLi dietary supplement.
In some cases, taking hormonal birth control can help manage heartburn symptoms. It helps regulate your fluctuating hormones. Always remember to talk to your primary healthcare provider before taking birth control of any kind.
Is Heartburn Before Period Normal?
Heartburn before a period is an uncomfortable and sometimes excruciating experience for women. We hope this article gave you a deeper understanding of heartburn and how to manage it. If your heartburn symptoms persist, consult a healthcare professional to get the proper treatment.
At Gerdli, we believe that there's a natural path to relief and better health. We've been helping people struggling with GERD and acid reflux since 2017. Check out our shop!