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Asthma: Why are symptoms worse during my period?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 26, 2020.

Just before and during your period, progesterone and estrogen levels decrease. In some women, these hormone changes may worsen asthma. The relationship between hormones and asthma is complex, varies from person to person, and isn't fully understood.

In addition to the menstrual cycle, other changes in your life can cause shifts in hormone levels that may worsen or improve asthma symptoms. These include:

  • Irregular periods. Asthma symptoms in women with irregular periods may be worse than they are in women who have regular menstrual cycles.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnancy may increase the risk of having a severe asthma attack. For some women, however, hormone changes during pregnancy may actually improve asthma symptoms.
  • Menopause. Dropping hormone levels associated with menopause may make asthma symptoms worse or cause some women to develop asthma. But other women may notice their asthma symptoms improve after menopause.
  • Hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement with estrogen or progesterone may improve asthma symptoms in some women who have gone through menopause. However, study results are conflicting, and hormone replacement appears to increase the risk of asthma symptoms in certain women.

If you have bothersome asthma symptoms during your period, ask your doctor if any medications you take for menstrual pain could be causing an asthma flare. Your doctor may recommend that you increase your asthma control medication or take a different medication before your period starts.

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