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Can stress impact your period in any way? An expert answers

Published on:17 May 2021, 10:00am IST
Did you know stress can wreak havoc on your period? Yes, it’s true. But worry not, because a few changes can make a big difference.
Dr Pratima Thamke
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periods
Vitamin C benefits the menstrual cycle by improving iron absorption. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Everyone experiences stress at some point of time, and that can lead to changes in one’s menstrual cycle. Yes, you heard it right! Stress caused by traumatic events has been associated with dramatic changes in normal menstruation patterns. It is the need of the hour to lead a stress-free life and have a happy period. To do so, you will have to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Read on to know more about this and you can thank us later!

Women, are you stressed out due to the pandemic? Is work from home snatching away your peace of mind? Is it getting difficult to strike a work/life balance?  Do you find it difficult to do your daily chores owing to the lack of help? Then, you will be shocked to know that being stressed can alter your menstrual cycles.

This is how stress affects the menstrual cycle

Stress arising from any situation can lead to rapid breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, frequent urination, and irregular or missed periods. Yes, stress will take a toll on the female reproductive system. One will also experience a condition known as amenorrhoea, wherein the periods will stop on a temporary basis. Stress affects the frequency and duration of the period. 

Dysmenorrhoea that is menstrual cramping is also linked to stress, and can result in painful periods. Did you know? Hormones are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which creates a response in one’s ovaries. The menstrual flow is determined by the smooth balance created between hormones estrogen and progesterone. Thus, stress will disturb the hormonal pattern. This causes missed periods, delayed bleeding, breakthrough bleeding, or an early period. Stress will cause the body to delay or entirely suppress one’s ovulation. Thus, cortisol, a stress hormone can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle.

We have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to help you enjoy stress-free periods
  • Exercise daily:  Are you physically active? If not, then you must start exercising right away! Exercising has surprising benefits.  It will help you improve the blood flow to your abdominal region and combat pain. Furthermore, working out produces endorphins that are natural pain relievers and make your periods pain-free. Try to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation that will rejuvenate you.  Furthermore, it is also recommended to do breathing exercises to de-stress.

    stress impact periods
    Do some low-impact exercises regularly, even when you are down. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
  • Heat therapy: Using a hot water bag will help relax your contracting muscles in the uterus that induce pain. Even heat pads are available that will soothe you. 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet: Eat healthy for a stress-free period. Opt for the omega-3 fatty acid diet to manage period pain. Also, try to include enough proteins, vitamins, and minerals in the diet. Having omega 3s will help you pep up your mood and improve the functioning of the brain. Eat mushrooms, tofu, beet, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, chicken, salmon, sardine, or mackerel. Having calcium will regulate menstruation.

    Opt for milk, orange juice, and even eggs.  Load your diet with foods containing vitamin D to tackle menstrual cycle disorders. Try to stay hydrated by drinking enough water to manage period cramps. Also, boost your fibre intake to tackle bloating, which is a symptom of PMS.

  • Avoid processed foods: Do not eat packaged, junk, and oily foods. Avoid saturated fats. Say NO to cream, cake, pasta, pizza, or chips. Do not eat food rich in salt because too much sodium can cause water retention and even bloating. Having excessive caffeine can worsen your cramps and lead to heavy bleeding.

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  • Relax and pamper yourself: Well you will have to rest enough and get sound sleep. Do not exert yourself or do any activities that require a lot of effort and stress. Just chill or opt for a hair spa. Even getting a massage will be soothing for you. 
  • Stay in touch with your family and friends: You will have to do things that boost your mood and refresh you. Try to stay in touch with your loved ones via video or phone calls.  Enjoy activities that you like. Opt for reading, listening to music, watching movies, comedy shows, or gardening. This will reduce stress and help you stay composed. Have an optimistic approach, use good sanitary products, and manage the pain.

Dr Pratima Thamke Dr Pratima Thamke

Dr Pratima Thamke is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar