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 be indicators of more serious conditions that have gone unnoticed. For women, 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 exactly at it suggests: the pressure of your blood. 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 arteries network through your circulatory system and taper 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.
Measuring Blood Pressure
Medical professional use an instrument called a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure. First, the doctor begins by placing a cuff around your arm. The doctor squeezes or by an automated machine, either by a hand pump. Then, the cuff begins to inflate until the it is pressurized around the arm. A small valve slowly deflates the cuff, while the doctor measures your blood pressure using a stethoscope or by the automated machine. If the doctor does it by hand, he will listen for the sound of blood pulsing through the arteries. That first sound that they will listen for is the rushing of blood which refers to your systolic blood pressure. Once the sound fades, this indicates the diastolic pressure.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and recorded with the systolic number first. It’s then followed by the second number which is the diastolic pressure level. For example, a normal blood pressure would be recorded as something under 120/80 mmHg.
What Should Your Target Blood Pressure Be?
Your age and gender play key roles in what your target blood pressure should be. Check the below blood pressure chart 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 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 actually 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.
High Blood Pressure Impacts on 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
As stated in a study published in the HHS Public Access section of the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, your body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure levels often interact. Doctors will watch these numbers and levels for anything not normal. The study found that an increased risk of uterine fibroids links to diastolic blood pressure levels. This increased risk is due to the effects of high blood pressure on uterine smooth muscle tissue, similar to the development of atherosclerosis (A Prospective Study of Hypertension and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata, 2015).
Weight gain and the risk of fibroids are also related. Monitoring your body mass index (BMI) can be helpful 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
- Pet your dog or cat
- Exercise regularly
- Keep a food diary
- Choose foods with less sodium
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Reduce chronic stress by avoiding triggers
- Take breaks from social media
- Quit smoking or vaping
- Cut out your daily coffee
- Monitor blood pressure levels
- Meditate, stretch, or try yoga
- Keep your worries to a minimum
- Don’t leave your feelings bottled up
Blood pressure is a serious health condition that can manifest quickly. If you’re worried about your levels being too high or too low, it’s important to consult your doctor.
Getting Checked for Uterine Fibroids
Now that we know that high blood pressure can be linked to an increased risk of uterine fibroids, it’s even more important to know what your numbers and manage levels are. If you notice changes in your menstrual cycle or period, it’s crucial to track the regularity, severity, heaviness, and length. If you are experiencing: 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 are experiencing period pain or other symptoms, give us a call at 855.615.2555 or click the button below to schedule your appointment online today.