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