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Female hormones

Have you noticed your symptoms are worse around your period? Or did your asthma get worse when you were pregnant? Find out more about female hormones.

Health advice > Asthma triggers

Find out more about female hormones, how they can be an asthma trigger for some people, and how to lower your risk.

Although we refer to ‘women’ on this page, we recognise that information about female hormones may also be relevant for transgender people, some non-binary people, people with variations in sex characteristics (VSC) or people who are intersex.

On this page: 

How do female hormones trigger asthma symptoms?

When is your asthma most likely to be affected by female hormones?

How to lower the risk of hormones triggering your asthma

How do female hormones trigger asthma symptoms?

Hormones involved in processes like periods and pregnancy, such as oestrogen and progesterone, can be asthma triggers.

It’s not yet clear why this is. It could be because they increase inflammation in the body and affect the airways.

When is your asthma most likely to be affected by female hormones?

You're more likely to notice worse symptoms around times of hormonal change like puberty, periods, pregnancy and perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause). 

  • One third of women report worse asthma symptoms before or during a period
  • Some women, particularly those with severe asthma, have worse symptoms during pregnancy. Although many women notice an improvement or no change at all when they’re pregnant.
  • Asthma symptoms can get worse during perimenopause (the time leading up to the menopause) 

“Female hormones can be an asthma trigger in their own right,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, our in-house GP. “But they can also make you more sensitive to other triggers, such as hay fever or colds and flu. If you need to use your reliever inhaler three or more times a week, see your GP or asthma nurse. They can help you get back in control of your symptoms.”

How to lower the risk of female hormones triggering your asthma

The best way to lower your risk from asthma triggers, including female hormones, is to manage your asthma well.

This means:

  • taking your preventer medicine every day as prescribed, so you’re less likely to react to any asthma triggers
  • having an asthma review at least once a year to check on your medicines and update your asthma action plan
  • keeping a symptom diary to help you know what’s triggering your asthma, including hormones

“Your GP may recommend adjusting your preventer medicine if your menstrual cycle or hormonal changes around perimenopause are affecting you,” says Dr Andy.

“You can also ask about treatments like the pill (oral contraceptive) which helps some women with asthma symptoms around their periods.”

Find out more about women and asthma here and read out Asthma is Worse for Women report.

For more support if female hormones are affecting your asthma, you can call our Helpline on 0300 222 5800 (9am - 5pm; Mon - Fri). Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.


Last updated April 2022

Next review due January 2023

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