In our March 2013 issue of TMJ News Bites we asked: "Do you notice any difference in the level of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) pain and discomfort you experience depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle?" Here is what you had to say:
"Yes I sure do, right before I start my period is when I have my worst TMJ pain." L.M.
"My worst TMJ flare-ups definitely coincide with two points in my cycle: ovulation and my period. I don't know what that signifies, if anything. I'd expect that those two times are about as far apart hormonally as could be." T.L.
"In my case, I notice more pain in my TMJ a few days before and during my period." Laura
"I had a total hysterectomy in 2009 and was put on estrogen replacement at 4 mg per day. The following years up until I had TMJ surgery my TMD got steadily worse. Whether or not estrogen was a factor in making my TMD worse I will never know. Hopefully they will straighten things out for all sooner than later." Dana
"My TMJ flares up the week before my period. My nutritionist recommended using progesterone cream that week, I rub it on my legs, arms, belly and my jaw when my TMJ is really bothering me and it has definitely helped. I notice a correlation with my hormones and my TMJ years ago but could never get any of my doctors to acknowledge it as a real problem. I also have endometriosis and the progesterone cream has helped the symptoms of that as well. I am so glad that research is being done in this area." Shawnee
"Estrogen definitely plays a role in my TMJ pain. I take bio identical hormones because of a hysterectomy. If my estrogen is too low my TMJ is inflamed. Without question it affects it." Marla
"I always have worse pain right before and on my cycle... Definitely affects it for me." Hannah
"Yes, I did from the beginning. My doctor's and I worked to control my cycle and eventually settled on an intrauterine devices. I have far fewer flare-ups now that I do not have period." Shannon
"Yeah, my pain usually starts getting worse midcycle." Janelle "I never really noticed it before, but it totally does! I thought that it was weird that it became more prevalent around ovulation. I will watch for signs around my menses as well." Tabitha
"I had bilateral dermal grafts to "fix" disc dislocation after an accident in 1989. I had a total hysterectomy (including ovaries = no natural hormones then) in 1999. Before the hysterectomy, I had horrible, horrible pain for 3 days before my period every single month for those 10 years. It would subside after my period started. It was clearly hormone related. I was in a support group of TMJ patients in the late 80's, early 90's during the hormonal issues. All of the women in the group reported the same (and I remember my doctor telling me back then, that they had already concluded there was some Estrogen connection.) After my total hysterectomy, I had 5 years of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which was obviously a consistent dose over time. After 5 years I stopped HRT and have had no hormone therapy since. On HRT or not, after my hysterectomy the horrible hormone issue was resolved. I still have a significant debilitating, life altering, pain and facial nerve damage problem, to be clear. Now pain "swings" seem related to over doing it or weather (maybe we could study weather next! I feel really strongly that hormones play a huge role in TMJ issues." Linda
"I have no cycle, because I have no ovaries. I take a hormone-EEMT about every three days, since it has its own side effects, but I have not been able to tell any difference in taking it and not taking, as far as my pain goes. I have gone without it for a month, and all I got was the sweats, but no difference in pain. When I went back on it, I took it every day for about 5 days, and then cut it back to every other three days. I don't know if my implant TMJ history makes a difference but hope my information is helpful." Pam
"I have had a partial TMJ joint replacement and have found that most of the month I am pain free with my meds but during my period I am in severe pain." Dawn
"To make a long story short, I have an undiagnosed autoimmune disease that causes bone deterioration, specifically in both TMJ’s. For approximately 8 years (since 2002) I lived with extreme pain in not only my jaw, but also hands, feet and shoulders. In 2010 I became pregnant and noticed that approximately 6 weeks into my pregnancy, all of my pain mysteriously disappeared. I mentioned it to my doctor, of which she said that it was a mystery of pregnancy. The baby was born in September 2010 and within 6 weeks postpartum, all of my pain had returned. Shortly after that, I started taking Sprintec (generic Ortho Cyclen) and within 2 weeks all of my pain was gone again. I’ve successfully taken Sprintec with no pain for over 2 years, but I recently decided to try a different form of birth control (Yasmin) and all of the pain was back within 2-3 weeks. I took Yasmin for 2.5 months but was so disappointed with the pain, that I went back to Sprintec and all of my pain was gone within 2 weeks. I mentioned this to my doctor, but she said that there was no evidence that the estrogen is the reason for the pain relief; however, I am convinced that the estrogen in Sprintec is the reason I no longer have pain. I take the pill continually and skip the placebo. I no longer need to take any other pain mediciation. My opinion is that the continual level of estrogen (Ethinyl Estradiol 0.04mg & Norgestimate 0.25mg) in Sprintec has saved me since 2010 from living with debilitating pain. Thanks for shedding light on this interesting research!" Amy
"My TM pain has drastically decreased since starting on a hormone replacement therapy six months ago. I am currently on Progesterone, DHEA, and Testosterone. After reading this article, obviously this reduced my estrogen dominance, and maybe resulted in the significant reduction of my TM pain? Anyway, just thought I’d send my feedback, as it was such a coincidence that your article came on the same day I was thinking about this correlation, and wondering whether my hormone replacement therapy could possibly be helping my TMJD! No matter what is causing it, I am grateful that the pain has subsided…at least for now." Christine