Perhaps you experience asthma on a regular basis but haven't actually paid attention to exactly when, and how often, it occurs. Scientists have long recognized that for some female asthma patients, their respiratory symptoms do seem to flare on a predictable monthly basis. One hypothesis for this occurrence is that the asthma symptoms are caused by to the changes to your hormone levels that come with your menstrual cycles.

Further reinforcing this connection is the fact that the initial diagnosis of asthma in some women coincides with the onset of their period. In addition, a number of women also find that their asthma symptoms get much worse as their bodies change during pregnancy.

Exploring Asthma and PMS Symptoms

While researchers have tried to explore this link in a variety of different ways, most of their results have been inconclusive. However, a study conducted by Swiss researchers that will be published in an upcoming 2010 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology confirmed that women's bronchial tubes do seem to become much more reactive right around the time each month when their menstrual cycle is kicking in.

As a result, some females may be more prone to experience bronchial spasms and the accompanying breathing difficulty that's so common with asthma. The researchers also noted that even women who aren't diagnosed with asthma have sensitive airways right before and during their menstrual periods.  However, those who use oral birth control methods don't seem to be affected in the same way.

The Implications

Scientists plan to conduct further research to better understand the benefits that birth control pills can have on your lungs and airways. What they find may be essential to developing more effective future asthma treatments. In the meantime, though, the advantages of taking birth control pills may be enough to help you effectively manage your symptoms.

Take Control of Your PMS Symptoms

If you think you could be suffering from premenstrual asthma and you don't currently take any oral contraceptives, consider talking to your doctor to find out if the hormones they contain can help to keep your airways from becoming hypersensitive. If so, this can probably help to prevent the bronchial spasms that you've probably come to expect with your monthly bouts of asthma.

You may also want to track when your asthma symptoms occur. Keeping a calendar of when you feel the worst, and also making a note of your menstrual cycle timing, can help you identify important patterns so you can respond by taking your asthma medication to help head off your symptoms before they begin.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health (NIH)$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed