Heartburn Before Your Period: What It Means and What You Can Do
Updated December 1, 2022.
Most women experience a wide range of PMS side effects the week before and during their periods (or even longer beforehand). Often, these difficult symptoms can be even worse to experience than the period itself and seem to truly interfere in the functioning of women's daily lives.
In this article, our team of experts has compiled a guide to identifying and addressing one of the really unpleasant symptoms of PMS: heartburn.
Remember that this is a general guide and that you are an individual case. Consult your general practitioner or gynecologist if you notice anything unusual or feel worried about your symptoms or treatment.
Common Side Effects of PMS
Some of the common side effects of PMS include:
- Migraines and headaches
- Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and excessive gas
- Water retention
- Depression and anxiety
- Food cravings
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Dry throat
Make sure to take a look at our guide to alleviating PMS symptoms with birth control.
What Exactly Is Heartburn?
When stomach acid travels up the esophagus (the tube carrying food to your stomach from your mouth), an uncomfortable burning sensation may be experienced in the chest and neck. Sometimes, this gets worse after eating or lying down. While several things can cause heartburn, including overeating, tight clothing, alcohol, and spicy food, this problem can also be created by a change in hormones throughout your menstrual cycle.
Why You Might Experience Heartburn Before and During Your Period
The esophageal sphincter, located between the stomach and the esophagus, is sometimes relaxed by fluctuating hormones (progesterone, estrogen, FSH, etc.), which is exactly what occurs during PMS and periods. It functions as a stop valve, so acid from the stomach moves up the esophagus when it relaxes. The result is PMS heartburn, usually a burning sensation in the stomach, chest, and throat.
When Heartburn Might Be Dangerous
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible:
- Change in stool color
- Bloody vomit
- Severe chest pain
- Unexpected weight loss
- Trouble swallowing
If you notice heartburn two times a week or more, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a chronic condition where the esophagus is damaged from frequent exposure to stomach acid. This will require prescribed medication and lifestyle changes.
How to Lessen the Effect of Heartburn
Heartburn as a result of hormonal changes can usually be dealt with in the same way as regular heartburn. We advise taking a three-prong approach to combatting heartburn, including preventative measures, supplements, and home remedies.
Here are some of our recommendations for curbing heartburn:
- Take an antacid
- Incorporate a calcium supplement into your daily routine
- Quit smoking
- Manage your weight and utilize a healthy amount of exercise
- Manage your stress levels
- Eat slowly, making sure to chew properly
- Avoid eating right before exercising
- Avoid greasy or fatty foods
- Avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks, chocolate, alcohol, and citrus fruits or drinks
- Don't eat too late in the evening
- Lie in a slightly elevated position to prevent acid from flowing upwards
- Drink plenty of water during the day
- Include bananas in your diet, preferably daily
- Chew gum for 30 minutes at some point in the evening
- Try a licorice supplement
- Try a home remedy of apple cider vinegar in water
- Add ginger to your tea and food
Heartburn as a Sign of Pregnancy
Heartburn may also be an early sign of pregnancy. If you haven't experienced heartburn before or it isn't a normal PMS symptom for you, consider taking a pregnancy test. It is also often accompanied by a small amount of spotting, and you may experience some other signs of pregnancy, such as breast tenderness, nausea, headaches, and more. Remember that every woman and every pregnancy is different, so you might not be pregnant.