Dear Doctor Jahn,
A friend told me I should never sing in my pre-menstrual period. Is that good advice? Or, should I just ignore it!
Well. “Never” is pretty harsh – it means that you are out of commission 25% of your career!
The real answer really depends on many things. First, what kind of singing do you do?
If you have a high soprano voice, the week before your period may certainly present some difficulties in singing high notes, and especially soft and high singing.
Do you notice significant vocal changes during that week? Some women lose the ability to access their higher notes, and the sound does not project as well during this time.
This is due to fluid retention not only in the vocal folds, but also the walls of the pharynx, which acts as an amplifier and resonator for the voice.
If you have significant PMS, singing during this time may require you to modify your technique, pushing and squeezing more, which not only produces a suboptimal voice, but needs to be undone, once you are back to your post-period norm.
Interestingly, all of these problems resolve once the period starts.
If you are among the fortunate minority who sail through their monthly cycle with no vocal problems, happy sailing!
If however you do have significant difficulties before your periods, one option is to either cut back or change your performance schedule and repertoire to accommodate the limitation imposed by a sluggish and edematous vocal apparatus.
Another choice is to consider a form of long-term hormonal contraceptive therapy where you menstruate only 2-3 times a year. This limits the hormonal fluctuation and keeps your voice even and more predictable.
-Anthony F. Jahn, MD
Dr. Jahn welcomes your questions. You can send these to firstname.lastname@example.org
This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.