Many of us, in the days leading up to our periods, may find that we get a bit out of sorts in terms of concentration, our memory, and making decisions. No, it’s not just you; what you’re experiencing is actually called a “period brain fog”, and it’s only really starting to be looked at as a topic when talking about women’s health.
But what is a period brain fog? What causes them? And, perhaps most importantly, how do you get rid of period brain fog when it becomes too much in the time leading up to your most delicate days?
We’ve got the answers you need right here, on what’s actually happening around the time you’re getting period brain fog, what’s happening if you’re getting brain fog after your period, and a few tips and tricks you can try to see if they help make that brain fog disappear for good.
So, what is period brain fog?
Period brain fog is a condition that causes people to feel forgetful, indecisive, or sluggish at certain points in their menstrual cycle. It’s a pretty common symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), though PMS isn’t the only reason someone might experience brain fog. It’s also possible to get brain fog through certain health conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, or through various mental health disorders.
Not all doctors agree on how brain fog is related to PMS. In fact, there are plenty of studies out there that suggest there’s no link between the two at all. However, it is possible that some of the experts involved are simply dismissing the issue of brain fog as being “a woman’s problem” and not looking any deeper into it.
Causes of period brain fog
Whether experts are looking into the issue or not is really besides the point; people out there are getting brain fog before, during, and just after their periods. There are plenty of causes related to PMS that might explain why, as well:
The most common reason for getting brain fog before a period is hormonal imbalances, specifically in your sex hormones. In the second half of your menstrual cycle, you’ll have elevated levels of progesterone compared to your levels of oestrogen. In the days leading up to your period, both of these will fall. In turn, this impacts on other hormones and neurotransmitters, often lowering levels of serotonin and increasing levels of cortisol. These hormones help to regulate mood and your sense of “alertness”, so when they’re all over the place, you’re likely to feel that way, too.
If you suffer from anaemia, you’re also more likely to experience brain fog before your period. This is because your blood lacks the healthy red blood cells needed to transport oxygen around your body, meaning your brain won’t be receiving quite enough oxygen. This may often lead to you feeling dizzy or fatigued, and will often get worse before your period starts.
As your body loses blood during your period, it’s likely that the brain fog stemming from anaemia will continue as well.
Poor sleep or insomnia
PMS often comes with poor sleep, or bouts of insomnia, which may be caused by hormonal fluctuations during the luteal stage of the menstrual cycle. These have been shown to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fragmented sleep, causing people to sleep poorly and wake up not feeling quite as sharp as they might have been before.
If you suffer from particularly bad cramps or have a really heavy period, it’s possible that this may continue past the luteal phase, as the pain may keep you awake at night.
Anxiety and depression
Both depression and anxiety have the potential to cause brain fog, because of altered chemical production in the brain and because of how they manifest. Depression, for example, manifests as feelings of numbness, sadness, and apathy ‒ all of which are common feelings to experience when going through a spell of brain fog.
Anxiety, on the other hand, often takes up a lot of mental energy because of the intrusive thoughts the person is dealing with. It can also impair their thinking and ability to concentrate, which may only be made worse if they then get overwhelmed and feel even more unable to focus.
Coming up to a period may exacerbate these particular symptoms, as the levels of hormones affecting your moods will drop.
A number of different medicines and drugs have tiredness, poor concentration, and brain fog as part of their side effects, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and some types of cancer treatments. If medication is the cause of your period brain fog, it may worsen a bit before your period starts, but it shouldn’t fluctuate too much at any other time.
Your brain needs a lot of energy to stay working at its best, and it gets this energy from nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It needs a lot more of it if you’re preparing for your next menstrual cycle, too! If you aren’t getting the right food for this to happen, then there’s a chance you won’t have enough energy for your brain to function just how it should.
If you have any food sensitivities, there is a chance that you may feel sluggish after you’ve eaten something that would normally trigger you. Similarly, if you have a slow metabolism, you might also experience brain fog after eating. However, if you do experience a slow metabolism, your brain fog and fatigue should also be consistent and not linked to PMS.
Other PMS Symptoms
Sometimes, you’ll find that your other PMS symptoms are impacting on how alert and present you feel. For example, if you’re being bothered by mood swings, have constant food cravings you can’t stop thinking about, or are being distracted during your day by painful cramps, you may not be paying as much attention as possible to other things.
Getting brain fog after your period
While many know about getting a brain fog before or during your period, not many realise it’s possible to get brain fog after your period as well. This is all part of what’s known as “post-menstrual syndrome”, during which your iron levels will drop. Even a small decrease in the amount in your body can cause fatigue and brain fog, alongside irritability and aches, and these symptoms may last for a few days after your period is over.
How to get rid of period brain fog
There are a few things you can do to help alleviate your brain fog, and to lead a healthier lifestyle that should help you to have an easier period overall:
- Make sure you’re eating healthily; eat plenty of different fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and things that are low in fat. Try to ignore cravings for sweet or salty things!
- Avoid taking in too much alcohol or caffeine
- Try to sleep well; set yourself a sleep schedule and limit brain stimulation (e.g. scrolling through your phone or watching television) before you try to rest
- Get some light exercise during the day to stimulate both your body and your brain (taking a nice walk is particularly good for this, and it will help you to sleep better at night)
- Avoid stress wherever possible
- Make sure you’re getting the right vitamins, such as B group vitamins, Zinc, and omega fatty acids (for your brain), Vitamin D (for your moods and concentration), and Magnesium (for your nervous system)
- Speak to your doctor to make sure you haven’t got any undiagnosed medical issues, such as anaemia, or different hormonal imbalances
If these suggestions don’t help with the brain fog around your period, it may be necessary to speak with your doctor again to try something else. They should be able to discuss potential treatment options with you, or refer you to a specialist who will be able to do the same.
Planning ahead for your period
At fluxies, we believe in being prepared for every period, no matter what you can expect from the days before, during, and after your cycle. This is why our fabulous sets of period pants come in designs and styles that are just right for any kind of blood flow!
Whether you’re expecting it to be light or heavy, to last a full week or just a few days, or even if you know it will happen during the busiest week of your life or when you’re doing absolutely nothing at all, we’ll have the super-soft, ultra-absorbent pairs you need. You won’t even have to think too hard about what to do with them once they’ve been worn ‒ just bung them straight in the wash, hang them up to dry, and then put them away for next time!
You’ll even be covered in the event that our undies are not for you, with our 60-day money-back guarantee. So, what are you waiting for? Buy up a pair or two (or three) for your next period and give them a go ‒ see how comfortable they make your cycle!