Powerful female hormones, injuries & back pain

Something I’ve really come to notice during my time with SI joint issues is the effect of my menstrual cycle on my SI joints.

Basically, one of the hormones a woman’s body releases in the days leading up to her period is a hormone called relaxin.

As the name suggests, relaxin acts as a chemical messenger that tells our muscles and ligaments to relax.  Its main effect during childbirth is to cause the joints of the pelvis to become looser, meaning there is more room for the baby to pass through.

However, relaxin is also released during our menstrual cycle, beginning around day 14, in preparation in the event we do become pregnant, meaning the concentration is higher in our bodies during the second half of our cycle.

I saw a female physiatrist once who put it very plainly:

“I have extremely healthy women come into my office– women who are runners, women who are training for marathons– and sometimes it seems like, during their period, all they have to do is bend over and tie their shoe, and they can throw their back out.”

This is the effect of relaxin– it loosens our ligaments up, to the extent where we cannot always count on them to hold things in place those few days of the month, where normally they would.


I have definitely noticed this going on in my own body.  For me, it begins 3-4 days before I get my period, right when I get my other PMS symptoms.  All of a sudden, I’ll feel my SI Joints start to move around a lot.

Back when I was doing worse, and my joints were more prone to locking up, they would start locking up much more easily.

It got to the point where I sometimes had to swear to myself, in those days leading up to and during my period, that I wouldn’t be tempted to judge my overall progress by the way things were at that moment in time, and not to lose hope.  (I’m sure my plummeting mood didn’t help with my gloomy outlook, either).

I really had to talk myself through, and say, I know things really seem that bad right now, but your joints ARE doing better.  Just wait a few days and see.

And then, sure thing, once my period had passed, things would go back to normal (or at least, back to baseline anyway).


Since my SI joints are doing better now, I don’t notice quite the same extreme fluctuations in my level of function.  I have more muscle strength to hold things in place, and my ligaments have had more of chance to heal after my original injury.

However, every month, I can still feel things become a little looser, and my SI joints seem to have a wider range of motion (and not in a good way).

I also notice my hormonal fluctuations impacting other joints in my body as well.  I particularly notice it in my knees and in the joints of my fingers.  (That sounds totally random, but interestingly enough, finger joints were one of the joints that doctors studied, according to that BBC News article).


So, for my female readers, this is something to be aware of.

If you are struggling with chronic pain, it might be worthwhile for you to track how your menstrual cycle impacts your pain.

I honestly was totally unaware of the connection, until that doctor suggested I start paying attention.

Once I knew, it did make things a little easier.  I learned not to freak out if things felt worse during a certain time of month, and instead knew to wait, and that it would probably pass (which it did every time).


For more, check out this really informative article from Lindsay Matthews at Breaking Muscle on Relaxin: Facts Female Athletes Need to Know.

The BBC News article

I also just started using the Clue period tracker app.  It seems pretty easy to use so far.

20 thoughts on “Powerful female hormones, injuries & back pain

  1. Jessica says:

    “I really had to talk myself through, and say, I know things really seem that bad right now, but your joints ARE doing better. Just wait a few days and see.”

    As someone who practices mindfulness, suffers from a newly diagnosed but slowly healing SI joint issue, and the lovely mood changes of PMS, this phrase (and your article) is just the validation/reassurance I was seeking when typing in my Google search bar “SIJ and menstruation.” 😉

    Thank you!


  2. Rustic Pantry says:

    I only get my pain during certain times of the month. Sometimes it’s ovulation, but most of the time it’s during PMS. It’s 100% hormonal for me, and there are some months I am unscathed, for whatever reason. I know now there is no quick fix, and I just have to deal with those days the best I can. One of my resolutions for the new year is to get in front of this a little more and commit to more strengthening and stretching. Looking forward to diving into your website for more suggestions. Thank you so much for sharing! Feels good not to be alone.


    • healinginteriors says:

      Me too! At ovulation my SI joint can go into major spasm. Often starts with pirreformis muscle then can spread to pulling the entire joint out of alignment. Sometimes left side, other months it’s right side. And many months in a row I can be fine but then it comes back out of the blue. Colder months are worse for me.


  3. Julie Luke says:

    It’s such a relief to find this blog and read what you’ve been through. I’ve had back pain for 18 months and only just getting an SI joint diagnosis. Some days I just feel
    Like it will never get better. It is definitely worsened by my hormones too. Thankyou for the time and effort you’ve put into this, it’s so helpful xx


  4. Sandra says:

    My si joint pain sky rockets two days into my period. I can barely walk and end up laying down in pain for one to two days. I wasn’t sure at first if the pain was related to my period, but after the last two cycles it was very obvious. I feel like it has gotten worse. Thanks for sharing, best information I have found any where to help me.


    • Christy Collins says:

      HI Vicki, I would think that no longer having those same monthly fluctuations would, over time, be stabilizing for the joint. In general, the SI joint can actually become more stable with age, in both men and women, because the joint can “fuse” and become less mobile as we get older. Not typically what people think of with joint problems, but for the SI joint, age can help.

      Glad my blog has been helpful!


  5. Erin says:

    Thank you so much for this. I am presently trying not to lose my mind, but your article allowed me to notice that the fluctuations are exactly as you explained. Do you have any suggestions for long term improvement?


    • Christy Collins says:

      Hi Erin, I found that as my SI joints stabilized over time, as a result of everything else I was doing, my hormonal cycle affected me less and less each month. Even though the same amount of relaxin was being released, and affecting my ligaments, once they had stronger muscles surrounding them, it just didn’t seem to have as much of an impact anymore. You can find everything I did here: https://sijointsaga.com/sacroiliac-healing/


  6. Looking for Answers says:

    Is anyone having groin pain with SI joint pain? I too notice it more during my period. What is the remedy to this? I have a young child and it’s hard to pick him up!


  7. Poonam says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I have been suffering from SI joint dysfunction for only 6 months now and with physiotherapy there was tremendous improvement. But something in my yoga practice seems to have an adverse affect and I am yet to figure out what. However, one thing I have definitely figured out the pain suddenly flares up a week before my periods. I have always had a difficult PMS and a surprise in store every 6 months with new symptoms adding and fading away. With yoga and ayurvedic approach, I was able to get rid of many PMS symptoms but this one is just so annoying. Thank you so much for sharing your experience – I hope to incorporate some from your experience.


  8. Jane says:

    omg, I thought i was injuring my SI joint on my regular exercise, but i remember that this si joint pains happens every now and then, last time it happened this intense was more than 6 months ago, so now it happens again 😦 it triggers my anxiety so bad. I’m so glad I found your website, it really makes me think I’m not the only one


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