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Thursday, 20 October 2011

PMS and the Voice

Studies have reported that the vocal abilities of female singers can be adversely affected just prior to the time of menstruation. In act, there have been cases of alterations in the appearance of the vocal folds of singers just prior to menstruation. Some professional singers actually have it written into their contracts that they will not perform on those days.

The human larynx is a hormonal target organ, meaning, when hormone levels change, many women may find that their vocal production changes, this particularly matters to singers, teachers and other women who speak often.  Vocal changes happen during the premenstrual and menstrual phase of the cycle.
Estrogen levels drop prior to menstruation, water-retention levels rise in the body causing increased blood supply to your vocal folds. Vocal hoarseness can result due to the increase of thyroid gland activity. Other changes that estrogen cause include  an increase in the secretion of glandular cells causing lots of mucus production. Progesterone production causes mucus changes in viscosity and the acidity of mucus increases, while the  amount of the secretions is reduced causing dryness of the vocal folds and sticky mucus that is hard to clear.
Other effects singers can experience during premenstrual and menstrual stages include difficulty singing in their higher range, vocal fatigue, huskiness, decreased volume, difficulty with engaging the support mechanism causing breathy quality, and occasionally intonation problems. Fatigue is a huge issue for singers, and sleeplessness caused by PMS can cause a number of issues.  Always remember, the larynx is especially sensitive and vulnerable to fatigue.
Remember, these vocal changes can be individually different, and may change monthly dependent on hormone levels.  It is important to be aware of how your voice changes.  Some things that may help include limiting intake of caffeine, refined sugar, salt, and alcohol. Continuing on your vocal vitamin regime increasing your honey intake, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking extra water are your best plan of defense.   Over the counter medications containing aspirin should be avoided as studies have shown it to increase the instance of vocal hemorrhage.
If you find that your vocal changes are more than you can handle or change drastically from month to month, than as with any medical condition, you should consult a medical professional.

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