Can Traveling Disrupt Your Period?

If you have a menstrual cycle, you probably already know that it's a good idea to monitor your period for any changes so that you can bring those up to a medical professional if necessary. Especially if you aren't planning to get pregnant, realizing that your period is later than usual can create some serious anxiety.


Among the causes for a late period is everything from stress, to weight loss or weight gain, to more serious considerations such as thyroid disorders and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), per Healthline. There are some circumstances under which you should seek medical advice, such as if you have a chronic medical condition that might be affecting your cycle.

Interestingly, lifestyle factors can also throw your body out of whack. So the next time you travel, should you err on the side of caution and pack your period supplies even if you're not due for your period? Here's what you need to know about travel and your period.

Yes, travel can disrupt your period

Whether this comes as good news or bad news is probably subjective, but travel really can affect your period. According to Self, a late period relates to how your body reacts to traveling, whether that's because of disruptions to your circadian rhythms or your overall stress levels. Gynecologist Carla Bossano, MD, elaborated on this topic in discussion with the publication and clarified that this isn't just from the kind of stress that might come from a delayed flight, for example: "Any sort of stress, even 'good' stress like a vacation, can throw off your cycle."


Reproductive endocrinologist Joshua U. Klein, MD, similarly told Health, "Ultimate control of your menstrual cycle resides with the hormones secreted by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland — essentially your brain." He added that changes to sleep schedules, often due to flight times and jet lag, can affect these hormone levels, thus affecting your period.

In short, if you're going on a long-haul flight or know that your travel itinerary could be stressful for you, don't be surprised if this alters your menstrual cycle and be sure to plan accordingly.

What to know about hormonal birth control and traveling

Being on hormonal birth control may keep your menstrual cycle from being affected by traveling, but the way you take your birth control while on the road can also have an impact. Importantly, to avoid affecting your period, you should continue to take your birth control pill based on the time that you would take it in your usual time zone (via Flo). 


Additionally, OB-GYN Christine Greves, MD, shared with Health that hormonal birth control that contains estrogen can increase your risk of blood clots. Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are additional risk factors for the development of blood clots during travel, and these include pregnancy and being up to three months postpartum, using hormone replacement therapy, and surgery or injury within the past three months.

Wearing garments such as compression stockings may be beneficial for those who are at risk of developing blood clots during travel.