women dysfunctional breathing

Dysfunctional Breathing in Women

Dysfunctional breathing can destabilise mind, impact physical performance, muscles, mental concentration, mood and metabolism. They can play a part in, for instance, premenstrual syndrome, chronic fatigue, neck, back and pelvic pain, fibromyalgia and some aspects of anxiety and depression.

There is evidence that improving breathing patterns in women can see major improvements in women’s well-being. Three common areas…

Menstrual Cycle

It is common for women’s breathing patterns to change during the luteal phase (luteal phase begins after ovulation. It lasts about 14 days (unless fertilization occurs) and ends just before a menstrual period, perhaps this is something you have noticed? During this period of the cycle, the breathing tends to involve the upper thorax and the mouth as opposed to the more beneficial breathing method involving the lower abdomen and nose only breathing. This type of breathing leads to an increase in volume of air taken in and the number of breathes which are detrimental to one’s well-being. You see, these unhelpful breathing patterns lead to an increase in sympathetic levels in the nervous system and accompanying feelings of alertness, anxiety, rise in blood pressure, heart rate and a reduction in heart rate variability.


One of the downsides of the menopause is a tendency to fall into poor breathing patterns. As well as the challenges of reduced lung capacity following the menopause, the hormonal changes can also trigger dysfunctional breathing that then become our regular pattern of breathing.

Anxiety and panic attacks

Panic attacks and anxiety problems are common in people of all ages and can be very alarming. Panic attacks can have physical symptoms, including an increase in the rate and depth of breathing, shaking, feeling confused or disorientated, rapid heartbeats, dry mouth, sweating, dizziness and chest pain.

Anxiety can be constant or periodic, affecting your mood and performance, but also your physical body in the form of a myriad of physical symptoms. If you have a normal anxiety response, once the anxiety-causing event has passed, the body returns to normal.  However, if you breathe more than actually required, all or much of the time, then this will trigger changes in the nervous system, resulting in a permanently elevated level of anxiety.

Using forms of controlled breathing including the Buteyko breathing method where you learn to control your breathing and overcome panic breathing and hyperventilation will help you to manage stress levels, release tension, improve your mood and boost confidence.

Good breathing practices such as slow, relaxed abdominal and nasal only breathing can rebalance our respiratory system and lead to a number of benefits including more energy, reduced pain, less anxiety, increased concentration levels and improved sleep patterns.

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