Blood pressure and periods are not something that you would think have any relation to each other. Whether you have high blood pressure or are at healthy levels, it’s important to understand the numbers that your doctor measures at every doctor visit. These numbers are very important measurements of our health because they can indicate more serious conditions that have gone unnoticed. We examine how the menstrual cycle affects blood pressure levels and what that means for your overall health.
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood in your circulatory system. It is often measured for diagnosis of certain conditions because it is related to the force and rate of your heartbeat and the width and elasticity of your arterial walls.
As your heart works to pump blood throughout your body, it forces the flow out through your arteries which carries it to other blood vessels. The arterial network through your circulatory system tapers off in size until they become tiny vessels, called capillaries. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the organs at the capillary level.
There are two types of blood pressure that are important to be aware of:
- Systolic blood pressure: This refers to the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is pumping and circulating blood flow.
- Diastolic blood pressure: Is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is resting between heart beats.
Your doctor measures these two types at almost every visit to note if these two numbers have changed. A dramatic increase or decrease can indicate something is wrong and your doctor will instruct you how to manage your levels more effectively.
What Should Your Target Blood Pressure Be?
Your age and gender play key roles in what your target blood pressure should be, but a normal blood pressure would be recorded as something under 120/80 mmHg. Check the chart below to understand what your targets should be. Your doctor will give you more individual insights into your exact number, but this can be used to ask your doctor questions regarding your levels.
If your blood pressure levels are over 140/90, it’s known as high blood pressure, or hypertension. If you have blood pressure levels below 90/60, this is below normal blood pressure, also called hypotension.
Can Menstruation Cause High Blood Pressure?
We know that your blood pressure changes based on your age and gender, but does your period cause higher blood pressure when menstruating? According to a study reported by WebMD, 40 percent of women with moderate-to-severe pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) were more likely to develop high blood pressure than women with mild-to-no PMS symptoms.
There has not been a lot of research about the relationship between blood pressure and periods, but some studies have shown that blood pressure may increase during certain stages of the menstrual cycle. This occurs due to the spike of progesterone (female hormone) levels. This study also found that blood pressure was higher at the beginning of menstruation. This indicated that it’s common to have higher blood pressure before a period, rather than after or during.
How High Blood Pressure Impacts Women’s Health
High blood pressure is more prevalent in women compared to men, especially with age. Women may experience a disproportionate increase in their systolic blood pressure levels versus their diastolic levels around menopause or after. When women go through menopause, there is a stiffening of the blood vessels. This relates to Isolated Systolic Hypertension (ISH). ISH describes the pattern of high systolic reading and a normal systolic reading.
Other conditions that are specific to women who have high blood pressure are:
- Heart attack
- Pregnancy issues
- Kidney disease or failure
It’s important to discuss your concerns with a doctor and make sure you fully understand your family’s medical history. Managing high blood pressure with lifestyle changes or medication can help reduce your risk of the above health conditions.
Hypertension and Uterine Fibroids
While the research into fibroids and their causes is not nearly as extensive as it should be, some studies looking into the relationship between fibroids and high blood pressure indicate a link between the two. A study on hypertension and the risk of uterine leiomyomata found that there is an increased risk of uterine fibroids linked to diastolic blood pressure levels. This increased risk is due to how high blood pressure impacts uterine smooth muscle tissue, similar to the development of atherosclerosis. For every 10-mmHg increase in diastolic blood pressure, the risk of developing fibroids increased 8% for those who did not use any blood pressure medications. While further research is required to confirm if fibroids cause high blood pressure, this study indicates that high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing fibroids.
Weight gain and the risk of fibroids are also related, much like how your weight can impact your blood pressure. Monitoring your weight and your blood pressure can help in predicting your uterine fibroid risk.
How Can You Lower Your Blood Pressure?
Depending on your levels, your doctor will let you know if you will need to take medication or if changes in your lifestyle can lower your blood pressure levels. Some lifestyle changes that you can adopt in your life that can help lower your blood pressure levels are:
- Managing your BMI
- Exercising regularly
- Keeping a food diary
- Choosing foods with less sodium
- Limiting your alcohol consumption
- Reducing chronic stress by avoiding triggers
- Taking breaks from social media
- Quitting smoking or vaping
- Cutting down on coffee
- Monitoring blood pressure levels
Blood pressure is a serious health condition that can manifest quickly and without symptoms. If you’re worried about your levels being too high or too low, it’s important to consult your doctor.
Get Checked for Uterine Fibroids
Now that you know that high blood pressure can be linked to an increased risk of uterine fibroids, it’s even more important to know your numbers and manage your levels. If you notice changes in your menstrual cycle or period, it’s crucial to track the regularity, severity, heaviness, and length. If you experience periods that last more than 10 days per month, an irregular period, frequent urination, pain during sex, a protruding abdomen, or fatigue caused by anemia, it’s a good idea to get checked for uterine fibroids.
Don’t wait for your symptoms to worsen. If you have high blood pressure and experience period pain or other symptoms, give us a call at 855.615.2555 or click the button below to schedule your appointment online today.