Respiratory Disorders Community
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Avatar universal

shortness of breath during menstrual cycle

what could cause shortness of breath during my menstrual cycle?  this began when i was 11 years old and i've now been dealing with it for 28 years.  some months are worse than others.  it usually just lasts a few days but is miserable.  it can begin a few days before my period starts or during my period.  it seems to be a hereditary thing.  my mother and grandmother had the same problem and my daughter also seems to have it.  i've asked doctors about it and nobody seems to have any clue.  i feel like i can't take a deep enough breath.  i have to make myself yawn or lean over (in a tripod position) to be able to take a deep enough breath.  
129 Responses
Avatar universal
hi, i think that during the menstrual cycle, you don't get enough oxygen because you loose a lot of blood, i don't know if you're a heavy bleeder or not, but loosing blood decreases your oxygen supply. i will suggest you increase your fluid intake during your mentrual period and also discuss with your doctor about tking iron supplement. Eating foods that contain iron will also help. l'd like to know the outcome. val.
Avatar universal
You have described me to a "T" with your description of shortness of breath during my menstrual cycle.  My will normally last about 2 wks.  I have ask my family MD and my OB/GYN doctor and the only answer I have been given is "must be your hormones."  My shortness of breath has been going on for several years, I'm now 46 yrs. old.  If a doctor ever explains it to me, or determines the cause I will certainly let you know, and please do the same for me.
Avatar universal
I have had similar experiences related to my menses cycle and breathing trouble, but mine is a few days before it starts.  My GP and OBY, just look at me, like I have lost it, when I bring it up.   The GP hands me asthma med's for a quick fix.   I don't have trouble breathing when I am not near my cycle.  

It is so frustrating to not be understood
hi there i have the excact same thing going on with me and i feel no one listens to me very frustarting.maybe together with other people advice we may get answers i fully understand how you feel
your condition sounds like you have Catamenial Pneumothorax it;s a very rare lung disease so not many know about it or how to treat it. my best advise to you is start calling pulmonologists and ask if they are familiar.
Avatar universal
I have the EXACT same thing and thought I would google it to to if anyone had the same issues!!  It is nice to know that we all are not crazy.  My shortness of breath usually starts about a week before my period starts and lasts 4-5 days.  So uncomfortable, having to keep trying to get a deep breath is exausting.  I get the same answer from doctors...they have NO idea!!
WoW! I thought I was insane!  I am 43 and never in my life had issues w breathing (about a week before my period and continues on through it...) like I do this past year.  I thought it was the altitude finally catching up w my age.  I can't seem to get on the breathing thing because my head is in a cloud and I feel glossy eyed.  
Avatar universal
I also have experienced shortness of breath a few days before menstration. It gets so bad that I have had to sleep sitting up!! I have also noticed that my hands and ankles swell a bit. So I have been taking diuretics (water pills) during that time, and it has helped tremendously!! I just assumed that I retain water during PMS.
Avatar universal
I as well get shortness of breath about 2 days before my period and 1 or two days after.  As well my doc looks at me like I have lost my mind.  thank you for sharing at least I kinow I am not alone.  Samantha
Avatar universal
I'm so happy to read these posts and think that maybe I'm not nuts! I have had shortness of breath around the start of my cycle for the last few years. It lasts about a week. It seems worse since I had a hystrectomy last year (I still have ovaries so I still experience a cycle but no bleeding).
I am 46 and very active, so the shortness of breath has a significant negative impact on my running ability. I have run with the same friend for a few years and every few weeks I can't keep up. It' very frustrating. I have seen my Gyn and Primary Care doctor, but they both say "your lungs sound fine". Next stop is the pulmonary dr., but now maybe I will skip the shrink because I know I am not alone. Thanks. Liz
Avatar universal
I'm 16 years old and I'm experiencing the same problems that some of you are! About a month ago, I was having a terrible time breathing...like I couldn't get a deep breath. It feels like the air stops halfway in my chest or something. So, I went to the hospital twice and they told me it was my asthma, but the asthma medicine hasn't helped at all! And then I went to a pulmonary doctor and he said it was a vocal chord dysfunction, but then all of a sudden I could breathe better. Well now, a month later while I'm on my period, I am having so much trouble breathing again and it's scary! The doctor's don't believe me and they think I'm crazy! If you know anything or find out anything else please post a comment.
Avatar universal
Hi there,
I've also been experiencing shortness of breath during/after my periods.  I believe I have narrowed down the causes to a few different possibilities:

1.) borderline anemia (from either menstrual bleeding or internal endo-related bleeded)
2.) so much swelling in the abdominal area that causes my internal organs to push up against the diaphragm and back against my spine
3.) endometrial tissue invading the diaphragm and lungs - this can really happen

I think for most of us, it could be a combination of the swelling and short-term anemia, since endo in the lungs is rare (OR more common than we think, but few have been diagnosed).

Have you had any luck determining the cause?
1553222 tn?1294251475
Hi, Im 18 yrs old and recently, one or two days before my menstruation period I had this feeling of shortness of breathe. I'm not sure if Im having chest pain because  I dont know how it feels like. However, sometimes I think I have a chest pain (though not sure). This is the first time I've felt this and for me its so scary. Is it because of the menstruation period or is it something to do with a heart or lung diseases. I've finished my period today and seems like my shortness of breathe is still there. What should I do. Im scared to go to the hospital telling me that I have a heart or lung problem. Does anyone know the cause and treatment please.

I'll appreciate it so much.
Avatar universal
I too experience shortness of breath I also get weak and dizzy.  I think it may be anemia or hypoglycemia as increasing my sugar intake seems to help with the dizziness, but not the shortness of breath.  I am an athlete (did a half ironman last year) and nearly pass out walking up one flight of stairs during my period, am actually finding typing this tiring.  Would really like help with this if anyone has an answer, get no joy from the Dr. who sent me for an iron test once when I wasn't on my period and told me I was fine.  
Avatar universal
This is a miracle I thought that this shortness of breath and inability to get a good breath in meant that at the age of 29 I was in for a dramatic and fatal diagnosis.However,it seems that no one has a clue how to diagnose it.I too have been issued anti histamines and have occasional swelling of the soft tissues around the lips and eye lids and it always coincides with my cycle.
Are there any other swelling issues that accompany anyones breathing troubles?
Avatar universal
I have the exact same thing!  I also get shoulder pain on the left side if I work out during this time.  I have had this happen every month just after ovulation for the past 10 years.  Very frustrating because, like all of you, my dr. thinks I am crazy.  It lasts for about 3-4 days and then I feel much better.  
Avatar universal
Please check:

This is when you may have a partial lung collapse during your period due to endometriosis.  I had a collapsed lung 2 and 1/2 years ago that baffled my dr.  No one could figure out why it happened as I am a healthy 40 year old that doesn't smoke.  One dr. did say it was probably due to endometriosis but my surgeon did not find anything when they did surgery on my lung.  For the past year I have tried Lupron shots plus 2 different birth controls to try and stop my periods. I have all the symptoms of a lung collapse when I do get my period including the shortness of breath.  I go back to my gyno in 5 weeks and am going to discuss a partial hysterectomy with her.  I hope this will be the answer I've been looking for.
Avatar universal
Another person to add to the list of those who experience these symptons.  I don't think I am affected as much as some of you as I can continue with my daily life - which is fairly sedentary. Bending over brings on a severe attack of lightheadedness however that goes when I straighten up again. I have suffered from depression for years and wonder if this could be part of the cause. Also overweight although I eat healthily enough - not trying to lose weight but 5 a day and low fat most items.  Any common factors there?
Avatar universal
I just recently started to have sporatic shortness of breath and didn't really notice until now that it may be due to pms. It doesn't usually last the whole day, but today it's occured longer than it ever has. I also get back pain and a feeling of bloating in the chest. I believe it does have to do with bloating and or gas pushing up on the diaphragm. I have had an EKG, ECHO cardiogram, chest xray and blood tests for my thyroid and their seems to be no issue. My doctor says it's anxiety, but I don't feel anxious while I'm having shortness of breath. I guess it's just one of those things that just doesn't have an explanation. Because of our menstruationa and menopause, we will probably experience a plethera of issues that may not be serious but can sure feel like it. That's why it's nice to know that there is always someone going through the same thing you are. It would be great to have a diagnosis though so at least I know I'm not dying slowly,
Avatar universal
OMG! i'm not alone! I have been suffering from breathing difficulties for over 4 years now that feel like I just cannot get enough air. I try to make myself yawn to feel 'satisfied'. Doctors say my lungs are fine, no asthma. When I finally started realizing that the breathing difficulties came with my period I told various doctors and they just look at me like I'm crazy. But now I know I'm not crazy! It can last up to a week and can be very intense usually during, but sometimes right before my cycle. Then it goes away..for about 20 days, until the next cycle. Last night was the worse, with pain in the right side of my lung. I found an awesome holistic doctor here..I'm gonna see what his office thinks...I'll post if i find out anything good.
Avatar universal
What a relief it is reading these posts as I too suffer from shortness of breath up to a week before and during my period and have never met anyone else who has suffered this and was getting quite worried about it.  I also get the tender eye just before which usually goes very bloodshot and sore.  I'm hoping to go and see my doctor next week so if I find anything more out I will post,
Avatar universal
Wow, I am amazed at the number of people who are experiencing this same issue.  I have struggled with it for many years...been through so many tests, etc. but no one seems to know what it is.  My GP thought there could have been a case for endometriosis..as I have a documented pulmonary nodule...and have had several ovarian cysts...1 or 2 have ruptured as well.  Anyway, my Gyn seems to think that is so rare and unlikely, and the only cure for it is Menopause.  This absolutely affects my quality of life for about a week every month.  Some are worse than others, but never asymptomatic.  I also get severe pain between my shoulder blades and just below.  And the bloating, gas and indigestions are intense (even with pepcid and protonix). It's awesome knowing that I am not alone, but I guess I think that in this age of modern medicine, accepting a statement that it's nothing, or just an anomaly of my body, is crazy...There has to be some cause for it and some way to aleviate it.  I am going crazy...it really stinks not being able to breathe!
Avatar universal
I have had this problem for years. Right now though, my period has been erratic and I've been holding on to this breathing problem for the last three weeks. It is just so tiring.

My doc's put me on steroids, etc., and them meds have not really done much. I think I just need my hormones to normalize. Has anyone heard or found out anything?
Avatar universal
Yes, I too have same problems. I am 50 years old and it seems to be getting worse each month.  I have had these symptoms since a young age as well.  We all thought they were allergies but wouldn't respond to allergy medicine or even asthma treatment.  I don't have asthma.  I walk around with my mouth open in half yawn, trying to get a deep breath or complete breath.  My eyes water and it tires me out very much.  I also thought it was due to stress.  Alcohol seems to make it better for me to breathe, which makes me think that it is stress induced.  But the fact that it happens the same time every month, around my period, leads me to believe it is something else.  I have an IUD so I don't have periods, and I eat red meat like crazy, so I don't think it is low iron either.
Avatar universal
Wow! I am so very relieved and bewildered that so many other's have this same problem as myself.  My shortness of breath begins a few days before my period, however I am also periomenopausal as well (I'm 49 yrs. old) and began to associate this shortness of breath with hormone's last year.  I've been taking Omega-3's & Vit D3 but when my breathing started to become a problem right before my period, I began taking Women's Wellness-Andrew Lessman's and this helped me a great deal.  It could be the Soy Isoflavones in this supplement that are helping I'm not sure but something is working and for me, it's definitely hormone related.  At least I can still perform light aerobics during this time but prior to taking the supplement, I couldn't.  While walking my breathing was so labored but it has definitely improved now.  
Avatar universal
Hi ladies,
I also experience the same symptoms of Shortness of breath right before my period, it scares me everytime.  found this article and thought it might help explain why:


good luck,
Avatar universal
I too suffer from the same symptoms of breathlessness,light headedness ,low b p,fatigue,tiredness & difficultly taking in air a week or so before my periods.I am 40 yrs old & I found that doing breathing exercise helps a lot.Maybe it can help u too,pls do try it when your stomach is empty best time is early morning .
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