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Premenstrual Voice Syndrome

Q: As a kindergarten teacher, talking (and sometimes shouting) is part of my job. Problem is, the week before my period I get incredibly hoarse, so much so that getting through each day is a real struggle. Could it really be related to my menstrual cycle?

Dr. Donnica: The children in your class asked me to advise you to stop shouting! Not only don't they like it, your voice really doesn't like it. There is a condition called "premenstrual voice syndrome" (PMVS), which is characterized by vocal fatigue, decreased range, a loss of power, slight hoarseness, and impaired singing abilities (hitting the highest notes). PMVS may start four to five days before your period. It may affect up to 30% of women, particularly those whose voices are important career tools. The only way to determine if your symptoms are related to your cycle is to keep a calendar noting which days you have symptoms and which days you have your period. Note other PMS symptoms as well, especially gastrointestinal, as this condition may be worsened by gastric reflux or abdominal cramps. It would also be interesting to note if you have the same symptoms during school vacations.

Singers have long noted that the menstrual cycle can affect their voices. European opera houses excused female singers from performing during their premenstrual and early menstrual days ("grace days") for this reason.

Vocal surgery (phonosurgery) is available for professional singers or in extreme cases. Before resorting to that route, try resting your voice as much as possible, using throat lozenges and drinking hot tea with honey. And believe it or not, it's often easier to get better attention from children when you speak more quietly.

Created: 11/24/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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