Periods and Singing

Let’s talk about periods and singing

Did you know premenstrual vocal syndrome is a real thing and can have a serious impact on all women singers? We’re still not great at talking about our periods in public and the impact it has on our singing and performance.

First of all, it’s a perfectly natural occurrence for women during their reproductive years.
It generally happens every month.
It can have a big impact on the well being and health of each individual woman.

Just as premenstrual tension can cause swollen or painful breasts, pelvic pain, cramps, mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, etc.,” Menstruation affects one’s vocal cords.

For a subject that we as singers don’t talk about much, there has been a lot of medical research. This is a link to one of the systematic reviews:

Symptoms of the premenstrual vocal syndrome include the loss of vocal power, the high range, harmonics,  a reduced ability to sing pianissimo, and drier vocal cords. At the start of your period, you may speak with a slightly deeper and hoarser voice. Medical research believes it is because of the high fluid content in your throat membranes due to water retention. However, as your period goes on rising estrogen prompts your body to shed this excess fluid and your voice becomes clearer and higher. So even if you feel pretty rotten singing at the ‘time of the month’ you know it will pass.

So what can we do?
In European opera houses, they program performances around the lead singer’s cycles to avoid their ‘times of month’. That is the ideal option, but it is not open to most of us singers.

If you’ve got an important meeting, audition, or singing competition where you need to be at your vocal best, skip anything which would further dry your chords out, yes that does mean alcohol.

Keep well hydrated.
Try and get some good sleep.
Don’t push your vocal cords.
Be creative you may enjoy the deeper sounds your voice makes at this time.
Choose a repertoire that suits the changes in your voice at this time of the month.
Know you’re not alone, and that how you feel is completely normal and will pass.
Most people listening to you sing won’t even notice the difference.
Don’t forget to chat with your friends about how you feel, your not alone.

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