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Your Period, Menstrual Cycle, and Inflammatory Arthritis Flares: What’s the Connection?

CreakyJoints reports the link between menstrual cycles and inflammatory arthritis flares remains scientifically unclear. Experts including HSS rheumatologist Lisa R. Sammaritano, MD, agree that more research is needed and discuss some theories.

Research suggests that variations in hormone levels that occur during the menstrual cycle may influence arthritis disease activity and the severity of symptoms. “It seems likely that hormones may impact disease activity directly, such as by promoting or alleviating inflammation,” said Dr. Sammaritano. They may have a systemic effect on the immune system, as well as within the joint.

Another potential connection between flares in arthritis symptoms and your period is pain perception. When estrogen levels are low, women may report more pain, according to some literature. “It may be that a change in pain threshold contributes to pain and fatigue during the premenstrual phase, in addition to a true increase in inflammation,” explained Dr. Sammaritano.

If a woman suspects their approaching period exacerbates arthritis symptoms, there are ways to ease flares such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as over-the-counter ibuprofen and naproxen sodium — which can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. If these medications aren’t already being taken regularly for arthritis-related pain, a doctor may suggest adding it to your regimen the week before your period, said Dr. Sammaritano, advising to speak with a health care provider to determine if it is appropriate and safe.

Read the full article at Creakyjoints.org.