Does flying affect your menstrual cycle? How crossing time zones can affect your period

Original Artwork in Stylist Magazine
Photo Credit: Stylist Magazine

I flew from the UK to India in 2014 and despite being mid-cycle, I got my period the day after I landed, which caught me off guard. Two months later, I flew to Sri Lanka (the same time zone as India) and my period came a few days after landing. Nine weeks later, I flew to Australia, and it happened again – my cycle was all over the place. 

When I asked my friends if this had happened to them, I received multiple stories about cycles going haywire and periods becoming heavier/ lighter/ more painful – or completely stopping – while travelling. So, why is this? 

It turns out our menstrual cycle is closely linked to our circadian rhythm, ie the body’s internal 24-hour clock. 

‘Most of the processes in our body are controlled by hormones, which are little messengers going from one place to another to change functions,” explains Dr Gareth Nye, physiology lecturer at the University of Chester. 

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