Puberty was a rough time for me, guys. I was an early bloomer all-around, and my hormones wreaked havoc on my body, especially in the sweat department. When Aunt Flo came to visit, though, that’s when my pits got really funky. I’d sweat up here, down there, feel warm in all the wrong places, and apparently, this lovely little PMS symptom has followed me into my adult years. I'm not quite sure why I sweat more on my period than I do after an hour on the treadmill, but it's definitely a thing. OK, I’m exaggerating a little, but the waterworks are a struggle on the dot, during my dot, every month. If you’re experiencing excessive sweat on your period as well, you might be wondering, what gives?
You may not even be putting two and two together here, but period perspiration gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “hot and bothered," doesn't it? I know myself, and I’ve accepted the fact that my body typically produces more sweat than others, but it’s especially excessive (and downright annoying) right before my period. Even something as simple as walking from the parking lot to my apartment complex suddenly becomes "rigorous" enough for my pits to break a sweat. Now, it could be that I’m a part of the 3 percent of Americans who suffer from hyperhidrosis, aka excessive sweating, but Bustle reports that the female body’s ability to to sweat fluctuates a lot throughout her menstrual cycle. And since this issue seems to always come up around my period, I think it’s safe to assume the two are linked.
To better understand all of this, let's take a moment to break down a woman’s menstrual cycle, which has four phases in total: menstruation (when you bleed), the follicular phase (when follicles containing your eggs mature), ovulation (when an egg is released into the ovaries), and the luteal phase (when your body starts to prepare for menstruation). According to experts who work for Clue, a period-tracking app, women might notice they sweat more during the luteal phase, aka a few days before their period actually begins. The experts told Bustle, Researchers have noticed that women in their luteal phase show an increase in sweat produced when exposed to warmer temperatures, in comparison to when they were in their follicular phase (the first half of their menstrual cycle). This increase in sweating was noticed not just on the face, but across the whole body.So now that you know sweating is a pretty normal PMS symptom, the next question is, what is it about the luteal phase, exactly, that causes your body to react with droplets upon droplets of sweat? According to Alisa Vitti, author of the book WomanCode and a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert, it all comes back to hormones — specifically, estrogen. See, the part of your brain that controls your body temperature (aka your hypothalamus), Vitti tells Elite Daily, “is affected by shifting hormones, especially the reduction [of] estrogen." It's also super sensitive to the stress hormone cortisol, she says, and according to MindBodyGreen, stress levels often run higher than usual during your period, as the fluctuation of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone largely interferes with your emotions. As a result, when your body is feeling hot and literally bothered, its first line of defense is to sweat.
Anyone with a uterus can vouch for this: You’ve got enough going on in those four to seven days of your period. Between the actual bleeding, stomach cramps, a dire need to get chocolate-wasted, and reluctance to do anything but curl up in a fetal position on the couch, sweating a lot should be the least of your worries. Unfortunately, your hormones are going to do what they please, so you can’t always stop excessive sweating, per se, but you can reduce some of its effects, to an extent.
"If your stress is high, [or] if you're drinking caffeine, alcohol, are overexercising, it's going to make the sweating worse in all areas," Vitti explains. The body, she says, will use the lymph node areas (aka your armpits and groin) "to flush more fluids to cool the body off efficiently." Once you can identify your specific problem areas (maybe your BFF sweats all over during her time of the month, while your issue is exclusively down low), you can tackle them accordingly.
For some, caffeine can act as a pain-reliever, like ibuprofen or Midol, but for others, caffeine can worsen PMS symptoms. Clearly, according to Vitti's insight, caffeine is not going to be your friend during this time of the month, especially if you're susceptible to excessive sweat, so try to avoid it as much as possible when you're still on your period.
As for alcohol and exercise, your body's going through a lot at the moment, so maybe save the booze for after the fact, and be aware of your physical limitations if you want to hit the gym. Instead of going for a run, for example, try a gentle yoga sequence or a leisurely swim. If you're feeling pretty energized, though, and can't resist a solid workout, make sure to wear sweat-wicking fabrics like bamboo or cotton, and wash up (and well) soon after. Stay dry!