The second wave of Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on all of us. Besides the risk of getting infected, managing Covid’s serious side effects such as lung damage, we are now also worried about issues such as ‘black fungus’. In the midst of all this anxiety, we are perhaps not paying much attention to other health concerns. For women, taking care of their reproductive health is really important, specifically their periods and it is time they focus some of their energies towards their own health and wellness.
At this time, the only evidence we have is anecdotal in support of the contention that menstrual patterns may vary because of COVID. This means there is still no medical study that supports this outcome.
Many women have reported and complained about changes in frequency, duration, flow and intensity of their period. This irregularity could be attributed to stress and related factors. Covid has resulted in weeks of isolation, quarantine, reduced physical activity, altered dietary patterns, painful psychological experiences, increased work and family responsibilities leading to fear and stress.
In fact, some patients even feel physical discomfort wax and wane according to their monthly cycles. A regular cycle may indicate recovery from post-Covid symptoms. Unusual clotting and heavy bleeding are some other symptoms. Erratic periods or periods lasting longer than usual are being reported by women who feel their infection impacted their reproductive health.
Stress can disrupt the ‘hypothalamic pituitary ovarian axis’. This is the body’s central response system causing an increase in cortisol levels leading to hormonal intolerance and irregularities in the menstrual cycle.
Currently, there is no actual evidence or correlation between Covid and menstruation. Further research and study are required to establish whether inflammatory responses could cause temporary changes in the menstrual cycle. While one or two altered cycles should not be a cause of concern, if irregularity or heavy flow persists, then one must see their gynaecologist on priority.
Doctors at large say that irregular periods are a common phenomenon for many women and it is also likely that a patient is noticing these changes post Covid-19. Hence, it would be wise to rule out other causes if you do not get your period within a week or two of the expected date.
Everybody is different and while some people are concerned about not getting a period, others may feel that their periods got heavier after Covid-19. In fact, some experts moot the point that the deranged menstrual cycle induced by Covid-19 may also be an evolutionary protective mechanism, both for a woman and her potential offspring.
So, while Covid-19 induces stress could be a critical factor in impacting your periods, at the moment there exists no scientific rationale linking the two. However, be vigilant and consult with your doctor immediately if you feel that your cycle and flow have been altered significantly.