Before the advent of anesthesia, surgery was a scary and painful process. Who could bear seeing a surgeon tearing their body part to remove a tumor, make an implant, remove a tooth, or remove a child from a woman’s belly? The sight alone and the pain accompanied can cause Post-Traumatic Disorder (PSTD)—moreover, most people have lost their lives due to shock.
This is why anesthesia was made as a drug to reduce or prevent pain or make a patient temporarily lose consciousness during surgery. The drugs are called anesthetics, and they can be used on humans and animals through injection, inhalation, or topical application.
Women who experience periods, also known as menstruation, may have undergone surgery and used anesthesia to prevent pain. There are various claims that anesthesia can affect your period, so let’s explore them.
How Anesthesia Can Influence Your Period
The following are various ways anesthesia can influence your period:
1. Hormonal Balance and Menstrual Cycle Disruption
When you use anesthesia, it can reduce the function of certain hormones that help to regulate the menstrual cycle. This is because these hormones are sensitive, so you might start missing your periods and suspect you’re pregnant when you’re not. These hormones include:
- Luteinizing Hormone
- Follicle-Stimulating Hormone
- Female Sex Hormones Estrogen and Progesterone
2. Impact on Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland Functioning
The hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps to regulate hormone balance, will not be able to release the hormones related to the menstrual cycle due to the stress during surgery and the effects of anesthesia. Moreover, the pituitary gland, which regulates the menstrual cycle, cannot function well due to opioids in specific anesthesia. This can also cause abnormal menstrual flow.
3. Individual Variability and Temporary Nature of Changes
Every individual will not experience specific changes in their menstrual cycle after surgery and anesthesia due to the following factors:
- The kind and duration of anesthesia
- The person’s overall health
- The particular features of the surgical procedure
These changes can be delayed, early, or missed menstrual cycles due to the above factors. However, they are not permanent, as they stop after you recover from the effects of the surgery and anesthesia.
4. Inflammation and Immune Response
Your body will usually trigger an inflammatory response to heal itself when you undergo surgery and anesthesia. However, the immune system with the inflammation due to the surgery trauma can indirectly affect your usual menstrual flow. This can also lead to an irregular menstrual flow.
5. Potential Interactions with Medications
Some drugs, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help you reduce inflammation during and after surgery and can indirectly affect hormone regulation for your period. Moreover, some medications, antibiotics, or steroids prescribed during surgery can also mess up your period. This is why healthcare providers should consider these possibilities and provide options that can at least reduce any potential disruption to the menstrual cycle.
The following are tips you should consider after surgery and anesthesia concerning your menstrual cycle:
1. Long-Term Monitoring and Follow-Up Care
If, after recovering from the surgery and anesthesia effects, you still experience abnormal periods, then you should consult your healthcare provider. Long-term monitoring and follow-up can enable your healthcare provider to discover other reasons for the persistent irregularities in your period. Additionally, when you keep visiting your healthcare provider, they can help to treat any continuous effects from the anesthesia.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Another benefit of following up with your healthcare provider is that they might even recommend you to take a balanced diet that will nourish your body and boost your immune system to fight what’s causing the menstrual issue.
Moreover, they can advise you to avoid or reduce certain foods, inform you on the kind of exercise to consider, stress management techniques like yoga and meditation, and the correct sleeping pattern that can bring back a regular menstrual cycle.
While anesthesia is essential in reducing or preventing pain during surgery, its effects can indirectly mess up your menstrual cycle by affecting certain hormones that regulate it. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that controls hormones for periods that can affect your period due to stress from surgery and anesthesia.
Moreover, the body’s inflammatory response and immune system to heal itself is another cause. However, consult your healthcare provider if symptoms persist.