Many female travelers know that taking a trip can majorly mess with your period. Travel ― especially long-haul or international journeys ― can cause periods to come late, early or skip a cycle altogether.
The simple reason is that your body is stressed, even if it’s on the beach drinking a piña colada.
Of course, an island vacation may not sound “stressful” in the casual sense of the word. But to your body, “stress” is anything that throws its systems out of their usual routine, said Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Boston Medical Center who teaches at Boston University School of Medicine.
Anxiety about an upcoming trip, eating unhealthy restaurant food at your destination or sleeping less can trigger bodily stress that leads to menstrual changes, Brandi said. One of the biggest culprits is likely a change of time zones. Exposure to light at different times of day can throw off your circadian rhythm, the internal body clock that’s closely linked to hormone production.
“When you alter the circadian rhythm, your body perceives that as a stressor,” Brandi said. “Daily hormone schedules are altered, leading to changes in hormones and thus changes in periods.”
It’s more likely your period will come late or skip than come early, Brandi said. If you do get a period while traveling, the lightness or heaviness of your flow should be normal.
“If you are traveling and skip one period, it’s probably no big deal,” she said. “Missing two or more periods after travel is likely related to something else going on, and you should seek care.”
Now this is good to know. Happy travels!