World Hypertension Day: Understanding whether high blood pressure can affect menstruation

World Hypertension Day: Understanding whether high blood pressure can affect menstruation

High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the leading causes of heart disease and also the most common cause of death in men and women. When the blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher, and one exhibits symptoms such as headache, heart palpitations or nosebleeds, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.

With increasing obesity and changing lifestyles, hypertension is now more and more common in young women, but some studies also show a link with menstrual cycles, experts said. “Blood pressure of a woman changes during her period. It is highest at the start of menstruation and lower during the 17th-26th. day of the menstrual cycle. A 20-year-old study showed a link between premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and hypertension,” said Dr. Astha Dayal, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram.

Dr. Bandita Sinha, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Navi Mumbai further explained the impact of high blood pressure on a person’s menstrual cycle. “When blood pressure is high, it can damage blood vessels in the body, including those in the uterus. This damage can affect blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, leading to irregular periods, heavy bleeding, or even cessation of periods. Hypertension can also increase the risk of complications during the pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia,” said Dr Sinha.

Dr. Dayal further told that women with premenstrual syndrome or PMS had a “40 percent greater chance of becoming hypertensive”. “Some small studies have also shown that an early age of onset of menstruation is associated with a higher chance of developing hypertension in late adulthood. Another long-term study said that women who had frequent heavy periods had an increased risk of hypertension” said Dr Dayal.

Heavy periods increase the risk of hypertension (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

In addition, women with chronic hypertension had an increased risk of heavy and irregular periods. Besides this, certain underlying conditions in women like polycystic ovary syndrome and hormonal imbalance can cause irregular delayed cycles and can also lead to high blood pressure in later life. “Although high blood pressure may not directly affect menstruation much, antihypertensive medications such as beta-blockers and diuretics can affect female hormones and may cause irregular cycles or changes in flow,” warned Dr. Dayal. Agree Dr. Nitin Gupte, gynaecologist, Apollo Spectra Pune, and said that blood pressure medication can act as blood thinners and can cause heavy bleeding.

What can help?

Experts suggest that it is important for all women to have a healthy lifestyle, avoid smoking, alcohol, high salt or refined foods in their diet, limit their lifetime weight gain, Exercise regularly and monitor blood pressure. “Women who are menstruating should manage stress, monitor blood pressure as recommended by the doctor, sleep well and stay hydrated enough by drinking water and other fluids,” said Dr. Madhuri Mehendale, Gynaecologist, Zynova Shalby Hospital.

Cut back on caffeine, alcohol and sugar and stay healthy during menstruation, advised Dr. Gupta.

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