What would cause an extreme fluctuation in a woman's hormones?
April 13, 2012 11:25 AM   Subscribe

What would cause an extreme fluctuation in a woman's hormones?

I have a condition* that seems to be affected by hormonal fluctuations. It typically gets worse during or around my period. Usually, the more PMSy my period is, the worse the condition, and vice-versa.

This week, my hormones seem to have gone crazy, and I'm in worse and more widespread pain than I have ever been. I'm in the typical ovulation window, but I'm having some pre-menstrual signs (mainly acne and heavy, somewhat tender breasts). I want to know what happened so that I can avoid this in the future, and maybe help ease my monthly symptoms, as well.

Potential factors/useful information:
- I'm (most likely) ovulating. It's not usually a trigger for these symptoms, but it has to do with hormones, so I'll throw it out there.
- I'm in the midst of some serious sleep debt.
- I have been experiencing high levels of anxiety, but not more than I have in the past.
- My diet has mostly been the same, except for a cheap-ramen binge through the preceding week.
- I had just started a mild exercise program that consists of 5-10 gentle minutes on a stationary bike and the easiest of my physical therapy exercises.

I've seen a bunch of pages on using diet to control hormones, but I don't see anything that looks like it's science-based and I don't even know what I'm specifically trying to control, anyway.

I'd be grateful for any clues about what would cause my hormones to go off at such a weird time, in such an extreme way.

*I don't know if it's even relevant, but as far as I understand it, my ligaments go softer and things start moving around that really shouldn't be. It mostly causes pain in my SI joints and knees. When it's at its worst, all of my joints pop frequently and other body parts can start to bug me a little. This time around, I'm popping like mad, and I'm having pain in all my pelvic girdle joints, low back, recently-injured tailbone, knees, hips, shoulders, and a little bit in my ankles and feet.
posted by moira to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there any chance at all that you could be pregnant?
posted by batmonkey at 11:28 AM on April 13, 2012

I considered that, but I recently finished a pretty standard period, and haven't had sex since. I also have some pretty hefty birth control in place.
posted by moira at 11:33 AM on April 13, 2012

The birth control is non-hormonal.
posted by moira at 11:45 AM on April 13, 2012

I'm wondering if it may not be your hormones being more crazy after all -- but rather it being a combination of, your hormones are where they usually are now (or maybe only a little worse than usual), but then you've got your sleep loss on top of that which makes it harder from your body to bounce back than usual, and then you're taxing things further by having just started a new exercise program, and that one week ramen binge also probably didn't help.

You know? Maybe it's not the hormones alone, maybe it's the-hormones-plus-the-sleep-plus-the-ramen-binge-plus....

On the other hand, there was once some weird hormonal fluctuation I had when I was in my teens, when we were on a family vacation and I had absolutely the worst cramps I've ever had in my life. Like, "I had to lie down in the back of the restaurant and wait for Dad to get the car and drive it around the back so I didn't have to walk far" bad. No idea what caused that, and it seemed as out-of-nowhere as your situation; however, it hever happened again, so I chalked it up to a fluke.

You could just be having a fluke, but I'm wondering more whether it's more of a combination of random things all happening at once and exacerbating each other rather than it being justs one thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:53 AM on April 13, 2012

I don't know why but my whole life I have had large amounts of joint pain, especially in my pelvis and hips follow my monthly cycle. 2 days before they are due I can barely walk, basically it has been put down to inflammation in the joints by doctors aggravated by hormone fluctuations I was told this was pretty common in women. NSAIDS have been very helpful.

Ovulation leads to prostaglandin being secreted, which if your joints are sensitive to it can lead to joint pain. Taking Tylenol, or ibuprofen when you first start feeling the ache can decrease the amount secreted and really help with the pain levels.

Estrogen levels can effect the perception of pain as well. The lower they are the more pain you get specially from problems such as arthritis or joint inflammation in general.

Note - I am not a doctor and am just relaying from memory what was told to me by my doctor and has helped me.
posted by wwax at 11:56 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

May be obvious but check your sodium intake for the pms/boob issue.
posted by Bun Surnt at 12:01 PM on April 13, 2012

Expanding on what Bun Surnt said, ramen noodles typically have a lot of salt.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:09 PM on April 13, 2012

Fat stores hormones and losing weight allows the release of the stored hormones. Since you did just start a new exercise routine, it's possible (although I don't know how likely) that you're actually experiencing a higher level of hormones in your body than usual.
posted by kate blank at 12:13 PM on April 13, 2012

Sodium isn't obvious at all to me. I guess increased sodium causes issues? How does that work?
posted by moira at 12:13 PM on April 13, 2012

Length of daylight kicks my ass. Right at that point where you start to think, "damn, suddenly it's light all the time again" - extra period. Then, "god, it's so dark out, when is the time change again?" - extra period. Worse than usual PMS and ovulation, too. The rest of the year, you could set your watch by my largely uneventful periods.

And yes, also when I lose weight.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:18 PM on April 13, 2012

Uterine fibroids.
posted by PJMoore at 1:05 PM on April 13, 2012

I agree that it's very unlikely that you could be pregnant, but loose joints and stretchy ligaments is SUCH a classic symptom of pregnancy that you might want to pee on a dollar store pregnancy test just in case.
posted by KathrynT at 3:59 PM on April 13, 2012

I also get joint pain (and pretty much everything else on the checklist) for ovulation and pms. It sucks, particularly the pain walking.

Following from wwax's comments, perhaps try taking some B6 a few days before and through the ovulation window and horrible PMS thing. My doctor recommended this to me, though I will point out that- according to a quick scan here and here- the science verdict has not been returned as a definite 'positive'. You may find it has some impact on you (partic if your diet doesn't include a lot of b6 high sources). I use one of those cycle tracker apps and it helps to remind me when i should be more aware of supplementing.

I am not a doctor etc, I hope you feel better soon.
posted by pymsical at 4:28 PM on April 13, 2012

Pregnancy is actually what started this whole thing (you should see people falling all over themselves to help a pregnant woman on crutches; it was both hilarious and a bit mortifying). It never went away, though it got a bit better. Considering my extreme symptoms now, I guess I should check.

Looking into prostaglandins gives me hope that I can get a handle on this thing above and beyond exercise, which only does so much. (It looks like prostaglandins affect sleep. I wonder if the inverse is true?)

A cycle tracker is brilliant, I'll jump on that immediately.

And now I'm cramping. Maybe I get an extra period this time around.
posted by moira at 5:19 PM on April 13, 2012

Not pregnant.
posted by moira at 6:08 PM on April 13, 2012

(If anybody is still watching): For those of you who get bad joint pain with ovulation or periods, how long does it last? I'm still having trouble walking 5 days out.
posted by moira at 5:01 PM on April 14, 2012

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