In this article, you will learn how travel can affect your period, including why irregular periods and missed periods can be common when you’ve been traveling.
Travel can affect your period, just like any other “lifestyle change.” Even though your travels are temporary, it is still a disruption in your normal routine. Because the hormones that rule your menstrual cycle can be sensitive to anything new – from stress to your change in eating habits – you can have a delayed period and sometimes, even a missed period – due to your travels.
International travel, in which your body undergoes more of a shock, can definitely cause more of an upheaval to your menstrual cycle than a short weekend trip.
So, how does traveling affect your period?
When you travel, especially overseas or to another city far away from where you normally live, where there is a dramatic time change, your regular internal biological clock – or the circadian rhythm – gets thrown off. This is called jet lag and it can cause all kinds of problems – from irritability, exhaustion and fatigue, stomach problems, and even lack of appetite.
Your circadian rhythm influences hormone release and other important bodily functions, so when your rhythm is off, this can affect the hormones – such as estrogen and progesterone – that play a key role in ovulation and your menstrual cycle. There might not be an estrogen spike that leads up to ovulation, or perhaps the estrogen spike is delayed due to the change in your body’s rhythm, so you will have a later period than normal that month.
Flying and Periods
Rapid air travel – flying – across different time zones can expose your biological clock, or circadian rhythm, to shift and can lead to major jet lag. For example, one study, published in the Journal, Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine indicated that you have sleep disturbances in 70% of the time after crossing a time zone. This major disruption in your circadian rhythm can have major affects on your period.
In fact, in the same study, it stated that it was well documented that female flight attendants were commonly known to have irregular menstrual cycles.
Stress, Travel and Periods
Your menstrual cycle is also very sensitive to stress. Traveling – as fun as it is – can come with a crazy ton of stress. From the packing frenzy of figuring out what to pack, what time to arrive at the airport or to leave your home to get to your location, taking a trip comes with much stress.
Changes in Diet and Exercise
When you travel, your diet often changes, depending on your location. For example, you may suddenly forget to grab breakfast or you decide to delight in eating the local food, which may be different than what you are normally used to. You may be eating more carbs and breads than you typically do. Your diet may not change for the best, and this lifestyle change can affect your period, your hormones, and how you feel.
You probably aren’t working out or exercise as you normally do, either. And this can have an impact on your periods.
Yes, Traveling Can Delay Your Period
The bottom line – If you have been traveling and your period is suddenly late this month, there’s definitely a chance that it’s the jet lag, combined with the change in your eating habits, and the stress that comes with traveling that are causing your delayed period.
But you should definitely take a home pregnancy test, just to be sure.