Is Your Throat Sore Just Before Your Period?

January 28, 2010

Here’s an interesting observation by more than a handful of my female patients: Their throats are sore for a few days just before their monthly periods. It doesn’t go on to a cold or other more severe symptoms. Just a transient sore throat. Then it goes away.

If you’ve been following my blogs, articles, and especially if you read my book, Sleep, Interrupted, there’s a simple explanation. During your monthly cycles, progesterone levels increase with ovulation, but drops when there’s no egg fertilization. One relatively unknown property of progesterone is that it’s an upper airway muscle dilator. It literally tenses your tongue muscles. When in deep sleep, your muscles (as well as your tongue and other throat muscles) tend to relax to various degrees depending on your sleep stage. If you have less progesterone on board, then it’s more likely to fall back, obstructing your breathing, leading to a temporary vacuum effect in the throat, suctioning up small amounts of normal stomach juices. All this causes a temporary deep sleep deficiency. If you eat a late meal, more of these juices will come up. But once progesterone levels begin to increase again, the tongue tenses, and sleep quality improves as well.

Sometimes, the inflammation in the throat increases to the point of significant deep sleep deprivation, leading to some of the more severe symptoms as pre-menstrual headaches, fatigue, irritability, and weight gain.

For you women out there, do you experience sore throats just before your periods? Please enter your responses in the comments box below.


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  • How your hormone imbalance and your sleep-breathing problems combine to create a runaway appetite and how you and still lose weight without dieting.

  •  Which hormonal problems both men and women experience but must treat differently
  • Why checking your potassium levels is key to your health-especially if you suffer from constant fatigue
  • What is the #1 hormone deficiency that affects millions of sleep apnea sufferers yet is often ignored by even the most experienced doctors

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325 Responses to “Is Your Throat Sore Just Before Your Period?”

  1. Steven Park on September 23rd, 2015 4:43 pm

    Ms. Mason,

    Sorry to hear about your health troubles. I’ve responded a number of times to similar questions. Please search for my answers for some guidance. Good luck.

  2. Liz on October 21st, 2015 9:26 pm

    Dr Park, I’ve had this same problem off and on when I get my period for a few years. Any suggestions on otc meds I can take to help alleviate the swollen throat? It kind of makes it hard to swollow. I’ve tried mucinex with and without the D, Advil, Benadryl…it’s quite annoying. I’d really like to find something that can help it when it starts. I’m also really glad to know I’m not the only one this happens to.

  3. Noreen on October 25th, 2015 1:53 pm

    Hi doc,
    Thanks God I have found your articles related to my problem. This is exactly how I feel a week before my period. Please doc help me get rid with my problem. Been taking antibiotic as what my doctor prescribe and am scared I would get resistant with antibiotic. Please doc give the best advice you can give to solve my problem. Thanks

  4. cindy on October 28th, 2015 10:39 pm

    Ill reread through the comments and see if I can find anything that helps, but incase I have something different you can add any info to I would like to share my story.
    32yo female with diagnosed PCOS. I wouldnt get a period but every 18-24 months, until I asked my NP to run a Vitamin D test which was very low, so since I got on prescription Vitamin D I have been experiencing similar symptoms. It has increasingly gotten worse and I have realized it always coincides with my menstral cycle that now comes once a month like clock work 28-32 days 1st time ever in my life.
    It starts with a migraine, followed by a feeling of uneasiness and fatigue, then I wake up one day (usually day of my cycle) with what seems like oral thrush, (dentist and dr both said no) my tonsils are swollen and usually have white spots, swolling hurts to a certain degree it gets worse for a couple of days and is accompanied by fatigue, hot cold flashes minor headaches BAD NECK PAIN, cant sleep comfortably, I wake up thinking im choking. I have seen ENT, and all across the bored I get “I DONT KNOW” , “you can take your tonsils out but not necessary”. I have tested for Lyme, Autoimmune, thyroid , STDS, thrush, yeast, mono, strep, all negative. They give me allergies or GERD as the culpurt. BUT ITS NOT!! I am glad to know I am not crazy, but I am going crazy because I am tired of feeling sick and being down 3-5 days a month. I am going to fail grad school and lose my job if this continues. I am sure stress doesn’t help. I am going to be doing a sleep study, but I am wondering if I should schedule it before my next period? So we can get some accuracy. I plan on seeing a holisitic doctor but I live in a small town I don’t know how legit they are. I dont know what to look for our ask. Any help?
    THANK YOU ALL KINDLY. I feel like we should start an FB club or something.

  5. Alison on November 2nd, 2015 8:53 am

    My doctor looked at me like I was crazy the first time I brought this up! But u have 3 days of insomnia followed by an intense sore throat and sinus drainage accompanied by severe lower back ache and bilateral leg pain. This is all in the week prior to my period. And I am not seeing any helpful remedies for this other than Ibuprofen. Which does lessen the back and leg pain and decreases severity of the period. But I have acid reflex and take 4mg of pantazoprole a day. Ibuprofen is not typically my friend. So I only take it when the pain is unbearable. On the plus side, my migraines completely dissappear during my period. But on the tail end of it I am in the hell that I refer to as “migraine alley”, with 4 to 10 migraines in the course of the next two weeks.

  6. Nisha on November 29th, 2015 6:01 pm

    yes i get really bad sore throat and all other cramps

  7. shweta saini on December 15th, 2015 5:59 am

    I am having periods and I have sour throat as well as weakness and I gain a bit weight but after periods it goes and I am sleepy a lot as my body ache and ot feels like cramps and pain in every periods and I have this problem since these periods started and I m just in my 21+ and its normal or not but its too much for me every month due to periods and I cry sometimes due to pain and my body is like too week but I do not know what to do.
    Is it normal ?

  8. Sheena on December 31st, 2015 1:34 pm

    Yes, I have the sore throat issue right now so I know my period is coming. I bloat up the week before my period and have some cramping. My breasts swell up as well and hurt. My period is extremely painful the first few days and close to the end. Heating pads are a life saver. Thank god I work in an office. I’m 31 and these have been my systems since I started.

  9. Nikki on January 13th, 2016 1:56 pm

    I’ve been looking for years and just started noticing a trend now with the sore throats so googled the two together brought me here!!! I can’t tell you how grateful and thankful I am you have posted this Dr. Park along with everyone’s comments.

    Some of the symptoms I encounter; nauseous, fatigue, terrible stomach pain, heartburn, hot/cold flashes, weak and shaky, sensitive to smells, mood swings, diarrhea, and once in a while throwing up. I typically don’t sleep well right before my period and/or ovulation or at the beginning of my it. Plus I notice I have terrible anxiety by worry about things I typically wouldn’t lose sleep over. Sometimes it’s been so bad missed school and work, either due to the pain or not being able to function well.

    I’ve seen over a handful of doctors over the past years and I’m only my mid 20’s. All except this last Dr. put me on higher and higher hormone birth control pills. Finally this one said it is way too much hormones for the size of your body. She said that the pain is in my stomach or my intestines and with my heartburn it’s not due to female reproductive organs. I’ve done several different tests and everything has come back negative… so frustrating and expensive on top of it!

    I read through a lot of your comments and it has brought much relief to me. However what can I do about it. I’ll get this severe pain anywhere from every other week, once a month, to every couple months but always notice the trend it of it being with my period or ovulation. Within the last six month it’s been more frequent and even severe which is making seek out a solution.

    Not sure if it’s a one or two things just snowballing to the next. But regardless I’m trying to find the root cause! Which after reading this it looks to me like it is due to hormones. How do I balance those out? I just ordered your book and hoping I can find a way to fix or at least reduce the symptoms because it’s been affecting my personal life and now my professional career. Any advice would be so much appreciated on how I can take control of this pain in its natural effect!! Thank you!

  10. Riona on February 14th, 2016 6:29 pm

    I’m so glad I read through this and have seen that I am also not the only one who when my wisdom teeth start coming through I get a sore throat and then my period. It’s still not the best experience in the world mind you.

  11. Steven Park on February 16th, 2016 11:39 am

    Nikki,

    A lot of women have stated similar frustrations about not having any practical solutions. I did make some conservative recommendations in an earlier response. This makes me think that this problem is bigger than what I originally imagined. I will have to go back through all the blog comments and come up with a more comprehensive solution. For now, you’ll have to treat this like you have obstructive sleep apnea, even if sleep study says you don’t have it. It’s challenging to get sleep physicians to take you seriously if you don’t miss the cutoff of 5 apneas or hypopnea per hour. I have lots of resources on my website, which you can search through in the meantime.

  12. Jennifer on February 17th, 2016 1:55 pm

    Hi,
    I am 44 years old and get my period every two to three months, but during that time my body goes through the motions as if I am getting my period. I can always tell when the actual period will come because I start feeling as if I am catching a cold. I get cold, my throat hurts and I am tired. Oh and let’s not forget irritable. Is there any way to help with these systems so that I can function better at work and home?

  13. Becky on February 25th, 2016 10:07 pm

    I have had the same problem for the past two years. My doctor can’t confirm anything wrong with me. I may have PCOS. But I get regular periods but heavy for couple of days. For sure I have imbalanced hormones before ovulation and my period. I do get some heart burn which may cause some sore throat. I do know for sure that water retention doesn’t happen just in the midsection but throughout the body as well including the gums, and sinuses.

  14. Kathleen on March 1st, 2016 10:06 pm

    Hello,

    I’m 39 years old and the sore throat has been a problem since I had my son at 27 years old. I was in a coma with ARDS when I had him.. I’ve always thought it had something to do with the after effects of that. I’m almost relieved to hear that this happens to other women as well.

  15. Emily on March 7th, 2016 4:10 am

    I was happily taking the pill Femodene for 15 years and the month after I stopped taking it, I got a sore throat before my period. I was told by my doctor it was herpes. Having always had coldsores since a child on my lip or nose, I believed her and was distrought. However, my blood and urine tests all came back clear so I took acyclovir for 6 months and after that time it continued to come every month before I was due on my period. I went to see an ear, nose and throat specialist at the hospital, I was sent once as an emergency. I have seen a dermatologist and finally I saw a maxillofacial specialist at the hospital who confirmed 3 months ago that it was premenstrual oral thrush. This diagnosis took 12 months to receive. I was given a mouthwash to take 3 times a day and it cleared up beautifully. Then I got a severe herniated disc and 2 months later, before my period, the spots come back in my throat. I am fed up of this. I am convinced it is all to do with taking the pill for so many years, although now that I am unable to exercise and having been taking pain relief and muscle relaxant pills for the last 4 months to help my back and leg recover from the herniated disc I am just desperate to have a healthy few months without the period throat saga and the daily back pain. No one else I know has had similar experience so glad to find this site. If anyone else has blister like spots at the back of their throat/ roof of their mouth, do let me know.
    Having had the bad back I am an emotional mess anyway and unable to exercise so sure that wont help.

  16. bmommyx2 on March 8th, 2016 10:58 pm

    Interesting you menting being on the pill a long time, I was too. I took triphasil for 18-19 yrs. I talked to an ENT & he couldn’t find anything wrong, but told me to come in the next time it happened. Of course it almost always happens in the eve & only last a few hours. A GP told me it was anxiety & told me to take a xanax, that didn’t work. The ENT thinks it’s allergies, but who knows. It doesn’t always happen every month either.

  17. Emily on March 12th, 2016 2:02 pm

    Every month, like clockwork. I feel like I’m getting a cold starting with a sore throat, sometimes achey, usually tired. Then I start my period and the cold never develops.
    I also have digestive issues – I’ll have a really bad bout of diarrhea sometime between the day before and the last day of my period. It doesn’t matter what I’m eating or not eating during that time.

    As an aside – I take Nexium daily, so I don’t think I’m having any additional reflux.

  18. Steven Park on March 13th, 2016 9:02 pm

    Emily,

    Thanks for sharing. It’s important to note that acid reflux medications like what you mentioned don’t treat reflux at all. They lower acid secretion in your stomach, but don’t prevent acid from reaching your throat. What comes up is just less acidic, but still has digestive enzymes, bile and bacteria.

  19. Jill on March 14th, 2016 11:27 pm

    not only do I get a sore throat, but, swollen glands, body aches and low grade fever every month and as soon as my period starts, every symptom disappears.

  20. angie on March 15th, 2016 7:30 am

    I had regular light periods all my life. I’m 49 this year and haven’t had a period since December. Initially I thought this along with aching shoulders ,neck, anxiety and feelings of doom were down to nursing and losing my mother in December 2015.
    I was prescribed amitriptyline to help me sleep at night and it did ease the muscle ache.
    However I have been experiencing acid reflux and a whole lot of other symptoms that make me think menopause. The throat thing is terrible and feels like something is stuck like a lump. raises my anxieties big time.
    Got another appointment with gp in a week. Can’t carry on like this it so hard

  21. Tamara Factor on March 22nd, 2016 6:34 am

    I definitely have sore throat and more post nasal drip, reflux and sleep issues during certain times of the month. I had nasal surgery 6 years ago. It helped me breath better through my nose but seemed to worsen my reflux/post nasal drip/monthly hormonal problems. I frequently wake up full of adrenaline feeling like I was choking. Sometimes I can’t get back to sleep because the sore throat and post nasal drip is so severe. I have been diagnosed with LPR by 3 different ENT’s, have tried hormone therapy, hypnosis, sleep mmedications, therapy and while all have worked to a certain degree the problem still exists. When I am going through a bad phase, it makes it very hard to work, take care of my children and basically function normally. My dad uses a cpap for severe sleep apnea. He had more than 140 episodes in an hr. They actually stopped his sleep study a couple hrs into it and started him on a cpap immediately. I am really, really hoping that I can solve my sleep/sore throat/reflux issues!

  22. Brittney on April 1st, 2016 12:26 am

    I’m 23 and have been suffering from a very sore throat before my menstrual cycle for about a year now. I am getting so tired of it. Not only does my throat hurt, but I have severe leg pain, exhaustion, and lower back pain. My left tonsil never fails to have a white spot on it for about 2-3 days before my period starts and immediately disappears once it does. I don’t necessarily feel like I have strep or anything, it’s just an annoying pain and swelling that happens every time I’m about to start menstruating.

    I am so relieved to see that others have the same issues.

  23. Erin Lynskey on April 6th, 2016 12:57 pm

    Since December I have been sick beginning a few days before my period or during my period. I’m talking 101 degree fevers, coughing, sore throat, congestion, sick. But this only happens at “that” time of the month.

    I’m going on month 5 of this. December double ear infection + strep throat. January 2-3 day stomach virus. February a cold with high fever that then brought on laryngitis. March possibly the flu. Now April, itchy throat morphed into a deeply sore throat within 24 hours and is now accompanied by nasal drip and cough with mild fever.

    At first I was just thinking oh well I really just can’t catch a break this winter but now…it just seems all too coincidental that these “illnesses” all strike at the exact same time every month. It’s become very frustrating however as this throws off my usual gym routine for up to and sometimes exceeding one full week and then I have to start over again. My question is…do you think being on birth control is behind this? Only a few of the ladies posting said they were on the pill or not. I’ve been on the same pill for almost 8 years. I’ve been on birth control pills in general for 12 years. Would I be better off abandoning the pill or maybe try taking a different one?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Xo
    E

  24. Erica on April 14th, 2016 12:17 am

    I have the swollen throat thing going on as well. I appreciate your explanation! I’m confused, though that it is happening when I’m taking 500 mg of progesterone a day. That is a lot! Why on earth would I still be low after supplementing so much? Thanks!

  25. Jackie on April 19th, 2016 8:46 pm

    I suffered from bad cramps through my teens and twenties. I had two children and am now in my mid-thirties. EVERY MONTH before I get my period I get a sore throat, body aches, head aches, and muscle pain. I feel awful and just need it to go away!

    Thank you so much in advance for your help!

    Jackie

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