Some people feel dizzy or lightheaded during their period. However, this is not a typical menstrual cycle symptom. It may indicate an underlying issue, such as anemia or heavy bleeding.

Sometimes, the dizziness that a person experiences has no connection to their period, and the timing is merely coincidental.

However, anyone who experiences extreme dizziness that does not go away with at-home treatment should see a doctor.

In this article, we examine the causes of dizziness that may be related to a period. We also look at the treatment options and when a person should see a doctor.

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Image credit: PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini/Getty Images

Dizziness is a common symptom that affects about 5% of the population each year. However, dizziness is not a typical period symptom.

Feeling dizzy during a period is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, a person may need to talk to a doctor to determine why they are experiencing this symptom.

There are numerous possible causes of lightheadedness, some of which may relate to menstruation:

Thirst or hunger

Some people who experience menstrual cramps may avoid eating or drinking during their period, fearing that it will worsen their stomach pain. As a result, they may have thirst- or hunger-related dizziness.

Period-related hormonal fluctuations may also change the body’s fluid balance. For some people, this may affect how much they need to drink.

Blood loss or anemia

Heavy menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, can cause a person to become anemic. Anemia occurs when red blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen throughout the body. People who are already anemic may find that their condition worsens during their period, especially without treatment.

Although there are many types of anemia, iron-deficiency anemia is the most common form.

Heavy bleeding can also cause a person to feel dizzy. If a person feels lightheaded and has significantly more blood loss than usual, they should immediately get help from a healthcare professional.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe type of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It causes a wide range of symptoms before — and sometimes during — a period, which may include dizziness.

Some other symptoms of PMDD include:

  • extreme mood swings, including panic attacks, depression, and anger
  • severe period cramps
  • headaches
  • intense exhaustion
  • changes in eating habits
  • trouble concentrating

Causes unrelated to menstruation

Sometimes, dizziness during a period has nothing to do with menstruation. Instead, it may be a symptom of another issue, such as:

  • migraine headaches
  • problems with the body’s vestibular system, which helps control balance and spatial orientation
  • Ménière’s disease, a vestibular disorder that affects hearing and causes dizziness
  • low blood pressure or heart health conditions
  • brain health conditions, such as brain tumors or lesions

No single test can check for all of the possible causes of dizziness during a period. Instead, a doctor may make a diagnosis by:

  • asking a person to log their symptoms over a month
  • asking about a person’s medical history
  • performing a blood test to check a person’s iron levels around their period
  • using blood tests to check for infections and other problems
  • carrying out tests of the eyes and vestibular system

A doctor may recommend brain imaging tests if they suspect a neurological problem.

The treatment for dizziness will depend on the cause. Some options that a doctor might suggest include:

  • medications for dizziness and nausea
  • making adjustments to the daily routine, such as drinking more water, taking steps to reduce stress, and getting plenty of sleep
  • treatment for PMDD, which may include antidepressants or birth control pills
  • iron supplements, for people with anemia
  • medication for vestibular diseases, such as Ménière’s disease
  • physical therapy or head rotation exercises, for people with vestibular issues

Some strategies that a person can use to manage dizziness at home include:

  • keeping a water bottle nearby to help ensure that they drink enough water
  • setting a timer as a reminder to eat regular meals
  • avoiding driving or walking alone if dizziness is extreme
  • limiting alcohol consumption
  • taking a nap, as some people feel dizzy when tired
  • putting the head down between the legs to promote blood flow to the brain
  • taking slow, deep breaths

A person should also monitor their bleeding. Doctors consider bleeding heavy if it soaks through one or more pads or tampons each hour for a few hours in a row.

Heavy bleeding alongside dizziness may be a medical emergency.

Dizziness is not usually an emergency unless a person has other symptoms, such as:

  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness
  • intense head pain
  • numbness on one side of the body
  • slurred speech or trouble speaking
  • heavy bleeding

Anyone who experiences these symptoms will need to go to the emergency room.

An episode of dizziness might not be a serious problem if it gets better with rest or eating.

If a person regularly experiences dizziness during their period, or the dizziness does not get better after a period, it is important to get advice from a doctor.

People undergoing treatment for period-related dizziness should see a doctor if:

  • the symptoms get worse
  • medication does not help
  • new symptoms develop
  • medication side effects occur

Dizziness may increase a person’s risk of injury, as they may stumble or pass out. However, dizziness during a period does not usually signal a serious or life threatening medical condition.

Many factors may cause dizziness during a period, such as:

  • hormonal changes
  • hunger or thirst
  • blood loss or anemia
  • PMDD

The cause may also be unrelated to menstruation.

Depending on the cause, several treatments are available to control lightheadedness during a period.

If a person is worried about their dizzy episodes or is losing a significant amount of blood, they should seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible.