It's normal for women to get nosebleeds when they get their periods. But what causes these nosebleeds and is there anything you can do to stop them?
Why Do I Get Nosebleeds Before My Period?
Hormonal fluctuations around the menstrual cycle lead to changes in the nasal mucosa. Estrogen levels drop and the small blood vessels inside the nose become more fragile.
They're already very fragile. After all, most nosebleeds are the result of nose picking, nose blowing, and temperature changes. All of these can cause the small blood vessels to rupture.
The increased fragility caused by hormonal changes makes them even more exposed, so it doesn't take much for them to break.
There still needs to be a trigger, but that can be everything from an errant fingernail, a nose blow, or a dry environment that causes the nasal mucosa to crack.
How Do I Stop Nosebleeds When I Get My Period?
Whether you're on your period, waiting for your period, or have just finished, the method for stopping a nosebleed is always the same:
- Keep calm. Panicking may make it worse.
- Sit down and lean forward so that the blood doesn't drain down your throat. If it pools in your throat or stomach, it could cause breathing difficulties and may irritate your stomach.
- Pinch your nose with your thumb and index finger. Apply pressure just below the hard part of your nose. It should be enough pressure to close the nose, but not enough to cause pain.
- Breathe through your mouth and refrain from releasing the grip on your nose for at least 10 minutes.
- If the bleeding still hasn't stopped, repeat the process.
- If you bleed continuously for more than 30 minutes, or the bleeding is heavy, seek medical attention.
When the bleeding stops, refrain from taking hot showers/baths, eating hot foods, picking your nose, blowing your nose, performing strenuous activities, and bending over for long periods. All of these things could trigger a repeat nosebleed.
How Do I Prevent Nosebleeds When I Get My Period?
Frequent nosebleeds that occur during the menstrual cycle may indicate a certain disorder or disease, including thrombocytopenia, Von Willebrand Disease (VWD), and endometriosis. Sufferers of these conditions are more likely to suffer from nosebleeds during their cycles. They may also struggle with prolonged bleeding and other symptoms.
However, the majority of menstrual nosebleeds have minor causes and you can prevent them with a few simple lifestyle choices:
Stop Picking Your Nose
A little nick with your fingernail is all it takes to damage the nasal passages and trigger a nosebleed. Most bleeds occur in the nasal septum, which is very delicate and prone to irritation.
If you have long fingernails, you're asking for trouble, so refrain from picking your nose at all. Even if you have short and well-manicured nails, your nasal passages are very sensitive at this time so it's best to keep those fingers away.
Don't Blow With Force
If you're not picking your nose, it can be tempting to give it a good hard blow now and then. You have to get rid of that snot somehow, right?
But blowing your nose exerts a lot of force and could be enough to pop a blood vessel or two.
If you need to clean your nose, use steam from a hot shower or bath to loosen the mucus, and then gently blow or wipe afterward.
You can also clean out your nasal passages using a saline solution and a neti pot. It will remove all the dried mucus, as well as the dirt, dust, and blood that it has collected over time.
Use Petroleum Jelly or a Nasal Spray
Does the inside of your nose feel sore and irritated? If so, you might notice a few tinges of crimson in your mucus, as well as dark red/black boogers. This damage could have been caused by nose-picking, but it's just as likely to be the result of a dry environment.
When the air is very dry, the delicate mucus membranes dry up and crack, exposing the blood vessels underneath.
To remedy this issue, introduce a little petroleum jelly to the inside of your nose or use a saline nasal spray. You don't need a lot—a small dab or spray twice a day should suffice.
You’re simply introducing moisture to an incredibly dry and cracked area, not unlike rubbing moisture into your face or hands when they’re dry and cracked.
Avoid Dry Air
Although saline solutions and petroleum jelly help to moisturize and protect, you’re fighting a losing battle if you're constantly exposed to dry temperatures.
This is most common among people who spend a lot of time at home and constantly have the heating/AC turned up. It can also occur in hot and dry desert climates, which is why you may suffer from more frequent nosebleeds if you live in a state like Arizona or Nevada.
In such cases, consider purchasing a humidifier. It will introduce a little moisture to your home and ensure you're not constantly breathing dry air that will crack your nasal lining.
Drink plenty of water, eat a whole-food diet, and listen to your body when it's crying out for more moisture.
Think of it this way: if the skin on your hands, feet, and face is suffering, imagine what's happening to the extremely delicate membranes inside your nose!
When is a Menstrual Nosebleed a Concern?
Nosebleeds are very rarely serious and will resolve once you follow the steps outlined above. However, there are times when frequent nosebleeds and heavy nosebleeds are a concern and may warrant medical intervention:
The Bleeding is Heavy or Doesn't Stop
If your nosebleed is heavy and won't stop, seek medical assistance. Severe nosebleeds could indicate a more serious problem and if the bleeding doesn't stop, it can cause a medical emergency.
You Have a Bleeding Disorder
Bleeding disorders like Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) can prevent the blood from clotting properly. These conditions cause heavy menstrual bleeding and may cause numerous complications for female sufferers.
If you have Von Willebrand Disease and are struggling with heavy nosebleeds and heavy menstrual bleeding, contact a healthcare professional.
Blood-thinning medications can also cause heavy bleeding and extra caution is advised if you're using these drugs.
You Have Heavy Periods and Nosebleeds
If there is a lot of menstrual blood and your nosebleeds are frequent and heavy, tell your doctor.
Recurrent nosebleeds are often caused by dry air and nose picking and are nothing to worry about, but if they are combined with heavy menstrual bleeding, the risk increases and it's always worth getting checked over.
Can Oral Contraceptives Trigger Nosebleeds?
Yes! If you have recently stopped a course of oral contraceptives, your body will be experiencing major hormonal changes and this could impact nosebleed frequency in the same way as menstruation.
Summary: Nosebleeds and Your Menstrual Cycle
It's perfectly normal to have more frequent nosebleeds when you’re expecting your period or undergoing a change in contraception. Your nasal membranes are very sensitive, but they become even more fragile when your body undergoes hormonal changes.
Stop picking/blowing, invest in a humidifier and some nasal spray, and speak with your doctor if you notice any potential issues, including heavy nosebleeds/periods, nosebleeds that won't stop, and seemingly unrelated symptoms (easy bruising, dizziness, headaches, sickness).
Your doctor can advise on the best course of action while performing the necessary checks to rule out serious health conditions.