There is no doubt that woman’s life is governed by the hormones. But these hormones not only influence pregnancy and menopause.
They meddle with day-to-day functions of seemingly unrelated organs, which include the heart.
It is well known that low blood pressure symptoms haunt predominantly women and not because of the exhaustion from kids and house chores, but because of the monthly demon called the period.
However, light-headedness, memory lapses and fatigue may not always mean you are doomed. They may simply reflect a little-talked about phenomenon: cardiovascular cycling.
Hormones, heart rate, health, and FitBit
Cardiovascular cycling is a term I use to describe changes in heart behaviour due to monthly hormonal rhythm in women. I discovered this phenomenon by chance after I made an innocent purchase on-line.
Since I got my FitBit I started tracking myself and not just the steps I am taking, but other body function indicators as well. I found that FitBit Charge HR, due to its continuing heart rate monitoring capabilities can gave an excellent insight into the cardiovascular system behavior, which ties with moon cycles.
Your body talks
Your body talks. In fact, it has developed a hugely abundant language of homeostatics, needs and warnings. If understood, this language could be an incredible source of self-knowledge, and it could be of great assistance to those who seek health. Unfortunately very few people, including doctors, know a thing or two about it. Hopefully after reading this post you will get a better glimpse at it.
Heart rate and blood pressure fluctuate all the time
Cardiovascular system is responsive. It adjusts constantly according to the body needs. It responds to stress, sleep, and high altitudes. It also responds to laughter and changes in position. It even adjusts to the weather and mood. That’s why it is hardly possible to see identical blood pressure numbers day in and day out.
I had been wearing my tracking bracelet continuously for about six months. During that time I noticed patterns that arouse my curiosity. Specifically I noticed that my resting heart rate follows my monthly cycle. That finding was rather unexpected as I have never heard of such correlation before.
Resting heart rate a health parameter you can use
Resting heart rate, as I wrote previously reflects nervous system function and since nervous system is the backbone of health, resting heart rate can be considered an incredibly valuable parameter of health. Some studies suggest that low resting heart rate, besides indicating body conditioning, is tied in to better stress coping abilities, and can even predict longer lifespan. Knowing that, I was watching my fluctuating resting heart rate with great interest.
After three months of wearing a tracking device I noticed a pattern. Normally my resting heart rate would be around 66, but during the period it kept on going down to 61. I tried to explain this change by factoring in the weather, stress, work, diet, etc, but there wasn`t anything I could put a finger on except the hormones.
I found the heart-hormone correlation fascinating. Lots of women complain of being drained during the menses and blame the exhaustion solely on the blood loss. But lower resting pulse rate may help explain why women, who do not lose much blood, also feel sluggish and tired during the period.
Low blood pressure symptoms or stroke-proofing?
You don’t need to have a Harvard degree to realize that lower pulse can lead to low blood pressure symptoms in some women. Despite circulating hypotensive myths, low blood pressure symptoms do not only mean fatigue, but can include depression, anxiety, memory lapses, clumsiness, and cravings for salt among others. Sounds like something you have? Then, you may want to read my post on hypotensive personality.
For a closer look at the symptoms, causes and cures get a copy of Revived! and outsmart your doctor.
Just because you don’t experience low blood pressure symptoms your hormones do not stay heart-neutral. If your resting heart rate lowers your blood pressure, then it protects you from hypertensive disease and strokes. Maybe slower pulse around menstruation is another reason, besides lower iron stores, why women have lesser tendency to “catch” cardiovascular diseases.
Why women live longer?
The fact that women liver longer is a well-established fact, but the exact reason why women outlive men is rather murky. Existing theories are vague and far from being proven. Therefore, cardiovascular cycling may be worth investigating as it may explain the puzzling lifespan differences between the sexes. Women may live longer because of their menstruation-dependent pulse deceleration, not because of leading a more sheltered life.
I would like to see some official studies on this subject, but until then you are on your own. Get yourself a good quality tracking device to see how monthly cycle affects your resting heart rate and your blood pressure.
I noticed the exact same thing.
OMG! Me too – I’ve had my Fitbit since Christmas and noticed the link between my cycle and decrease in resting heart rate, googled it and found this! 😀
I got one as well for Christmas. I have definitely noticed a change in my heart rate during and after my period. my heart rate in the evening gets as low as 48 during/after period. my main goal with my fitbit was to keep track of my heart rate( I have a history of SVT and currently take a Calcium Channel blocker) so naturally I am always hyper aware of my heart rate changes. I have often thought there was a correlation between heart rate changes and menstrual cycle. Very helpful and interesting read.
I noticed the same thing using my Fitbit!! I noticed a big drop in my resting heart rate around the middle of each month and thought there must be an explanation for this!
Yesssss! So glad I found this , I always thought I was crazy because most sites tell you , your HR will increase mine is total opposite. I tend to have a lower HR anyways mid 50’s but when on my cycle it drops to lower 50’s (51 or even 49 resting sometimes ) for about a week then increases again to mid 50’s. So glad to know I’m not the only one, I always worried 🙂
This is very interesting as I monitor mine due to having heart failure and I noticed a drop from usual 59/60 to 50/52 but the unusual thing is I am in my 60s and no longer have periods but I noticed it happens when I used to have them at the end of every month! So the human body really is something we are still learning about!I also noticed that when it drops so low it never actually causes any symptoms unlike when my heart rate was too low from medications.
I got my Fitbit fracker while pregnant. My heart rate rose steadily while pregnant then dropped back shortly after. While breastfeeding it stayed very steady in the late 50s to early 60s. Since weaning my daughter I have noticed the cycle variance. I find it interesting my heart rate is much higher now than when breastfeeding. It cycles between 62-70 and mine seems to gain from around ovulation and drop off after my period.
I noticed the exact same. My resting will go from 69 to 61 while I am bleeding. I kept looking for a connection so I’m glad I’m not the only one.
Great observation! Did you know that breastfeeding is extremely calming to the mother? It is due to release of oxytocin, which in turn lowers the heart rate. Also menstruation is a natural detoxification, which lowers inflammation, which removes body stress, which contributes to relaxation. Ohh…. body is so complicated, but yet so perfectly logical.
Very interesting and we’ll written article. I just noticed this cycling starting as I got a fitbit in January and was worried as to why my resting heart rate was going up and up and up! My RHR is on the way down now.
I’ve been curious about this topic for quite some time. After receiving Low Heart Rate Alerts from my Apple Watch, I decided to contact my cardiologist who gave me a heart monitor to wear for a week. I noticed my resting heart rate is considerably lower a few days prior to the start of my period. I am fascinated by this topic and will continue to seek information. Thank you for a wonderful article and all of the previous comments are encouraging, I thought it was just happening to me.
Fantastic! I am glad to hear that your cardiologists did not suggest a medication for the condition that does not exist. Hallelujah! Keep it up. You may be just normal!
I too have noticed this. What caught my attention was how my RHR graph resembled my temperature graphs for family planning. I take my temperature every morning to avoid pregnancy at this point (I’m in my 40s) but have been doing so for 20 years to conceive or avoid pregnancy. My temperature without fail is low during the first half of my cycle, dips at ovulation, and rises during the second half. Then begins to lower if not pregnant until my period starts. My RHR graph is exactly the same. I love that I have this extra tool in my belt. Understanding our bodies is so important and the more we know the better we can plan and care for ourselves!