Stress and anxiety take a toll on the health of a woman and also on her period. Although with hectic daily schedules of home and work stress is an everyday thing, too much stress has negative impacts on the body. Excessive stress can hamper the digestive system and cause symptoms like diarrhoea, repeated urination. The female reproductive system can be affected too. For a majority of women, stress is a significant reason for irregular or missed periods. With a rise in stress levels, the menstrual period may pause temporarily. This situation is called secondary amenorrhea. There are also chances of a delay in periods due to stress.
How Stress Affects Menstruation Cycle?
Stress suppresses the proper functioning of the hypothalamus. This controls the pituitary gland of the body, which ensures the thyroid, adrenal glands and the ovaries are working well and producing hormones in the body. A misbalance in the functioning of the hypothalamus disrupts the operation of the entire system.
Ovarian dysfunction can lead to problems like improper estrogens production, irregular ovulation, or affect other reproductive activities. The Estrogens are a crucial hormone which boosts the uterine lining and prepares the body for pregnancy. Dysfunction of the ovaries will give rise to side effects involving the menstruation cycle, and a woman may have irregular or missed periods.
Things to know about stress and periods
- Stress raises the cortisol levels and creates an imbalance in the blood sugar, which in turn hampers the ovulation and period cycle.
- The stress hormone called cortisol disrupts progesterone production. The body uses the progesterone to create cortisol to tackle stress. A disruption in progesterone levels will mess with the period cycle and may also create problems for women trying to conceive.
- Stress before the ovulation cycle may delay or prevent the ovulation from occurring. The stress hormone cortisol suppresses the ovulation cycle.
- Stress after the ovulation cycle causes hormonal imbalance in the body. It can also cause spotting, an early period or delayed periods. The period can also be accompanied by severe cramping and have changes in consistency and colour.
- A late period cannot be called a period- it is more like a breakthrough bleed. As the woman didn’t ovulate because of stress, it cannot be called a physiological period. It is the uterus shedding its lining anyway!
Removing Stress Away
Reducing the stress levels and opting for effective stress coping mechanisms would help the body to have a regular and healthy menstrual period. You can also consult a therapist or a doctor regarding effective stress coping mechanisms. They may prescribe anti-anxiety medication and depressants, which will lower stress levels and help you to manage stress symptoms effectively.
As it is not possible to remove stress entirely from everyday life, opting for stress coping mechanisms is the best way. If you are suffering from chronic stress that is causing irregular and temperamental periods, make efforts to minimize your stress.
Steps to take to avoid stress and irregular periods
Having a relaxing bath twice or thrice a day works a long way to reduce stress levels from the body. Make the bath more relaxing by adding Epsom salts and essential scented oils.
Opting for relaxing activities like reading or taking any creative activities like painting or craft class helps in reducing stress levels. This would also enable you to give time to yourself, get time for yourself and indulging in activities which bring pleasure for you.
Poor sleep or an irregular sleep schedule causes lots of stress. An ill-scheduled rest will raise the stress hormone and make you irritated, moody and affect your menstrual cycle. Create a proper sleep schedule with sufficient 8-9 hours of sleep, and you are well rested for the day. Arrange a sleep diet!
Detox from Coffee/Alcohol
Stress levels also raise the coffee alcohol intake of a person- they often resort to these two as a way of getting the stress out of the head. However, both these are harmful, and they raise the cortisol levels in the body and make a person more stressed. Detox yourself from the coffee and stay away or manage the alcohol intake. Opt for healthy diet, fruits, juices to keep the body relaxed and calm.
Moderate exercise is beneficial for handling stress. You can also opt for activities like meditation, eating a proper diet and practising yoga to handle stress. A brisk walk, a long run or jog or a session at a gym works efficiently to manage stress levels. You can also indulge in spa or body massage to relieve the body of stress.
Stress and periods are co-related. No matter how much people deny it, there is slight coordination to both. More the pressure, more irregular the menstrual cycle. As such, detox yourself from the stress with the practical steps and live a healthy life!