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Nausea During Your Period: What Makes You Feel Sick When Your Period Comes

Feeling sick or vomiting during your period is really unpleasant. In this article, we’ll talk about what causes menstrual nausea and what you can do to relieve the symptoms.

Nausea during your period is a common symptom linked to substances known as prostaglandins. Normally, among many other things, prostaglandins help your body launch an inflammatory response to pathogens. During your period, they help your uterus contract, shedding the lining. As a side effect, they can make you feel nauseous during your period, sometimes leading to vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches.

Nausea during your period can also be caused by a mild fluctuation of sex hormones, which prompts the stomach to overproduce gastric juices containing hydrochloric acid. This can cause mild heartburn or, in extreme cases, vomiting. 

Your period may also come with a migraine, which can also cause nausea.

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If menstrual nausea has you feeling down, don’t worry — there are several ways to treat it. There are several possible causes of nausea during menstruation:

  • Changes in the levels of hormones that sometimes initiate the overproduction of gastric juice, which contains hydrochloric acid
  • Your body’s reaction to the release of prostaglandins, which cause cramping not only in the uterus but also in the stomach

You can make some dietary changes to help you with nausea. Avoid fatty or spicy foods (opt for small portions of bland food instead), avoid intense odors, and stay hydrated. Ginger, chamomile, and mint tea may help calm your stomach. Take small sips of cold, clear, carbonated, or sour drinks. 

You can also try an antacid. It can help alleviate symptoms by neutralizing hydrochloric acid. 

Relieving the cramps may also relieve your nausea. Applying heat (like a hot water bottle) may reduce pain in your lower abdomen. Physical activity may also ease your pain in some cases. 

If these methods are not enough, you can try over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine from your health care provider. Make sure to consult with your health care provider before taking any medication.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Migraine.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 Jan. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201.

Ricciotti, Emanuela, and Garret A FitzGerald. “Prostaglandins and Inflammation.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081099/.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Nausea and Vomiting.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 Mar. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/nausea/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050736.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Menstrual Cramps.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Apr. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374944.

“Nausea & Vomiting.” Cleveland Clinic, 23 July 2019, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/8106-nausea--vomiting/care-and-treatment.

“Chronic Nausea Treatments.” Stanford Health Care (SHC), Stanford Medical Center, 12 Sept. 2017, stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/digestion-and-metabolic-health/chronic-nausea/treatments.html.

Palsson, Olafur S., and William E. Whitehead. “Hormones and IBS.” UNC School of Medicine, UNC School of Medicine, Oct. 2017, https://www.med.unc.edu/ibs/files/2017/10/IBS-and-Hormones.pdf.

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