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Dr. Swati Gaikwad weighs in on the link between menstrual cycle and mental health

Published on:12 May 2021, 12:55pm IST
Mental health and menstrual cycle are interlinked and Dr. Swati Gaikwad shares her expertise on how to navigate your way out to a more comfortable period cycle.
Dr Swati Gaikwad
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endometriosis
Endometriosis can be treated either medically or surgically. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Did you know that your menstrual cycle is associated with your mental health? Meaning that it is important for you to take care of your mental well-being throughout your periods, so that your stress levels are low and you are comfortable.

How menstrual cycle affects mental well-being

It is tough to manage the physical manifestations of the menstrual cycle. Symptoms such as heavy bleeding, breast tenderness, cramps and bloating may interrupt your day-to-day activities. These symptoms can hamper your peace of mind and make you anxious, stressed and lead to mood shifts. A large number of women tend to encounter premenstrual syndrome (PMS) a few days or a week before their period. PMS could make you feel frustrated, irritated, upset and nervous and many women also experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) as well, which leads to depressive episodes, reduced focus and panic attacks.

The levels of estrogen and progesterone are low at the beginning of the period and this impacts the levels of serotonin released by the brain, a chemical that induces the feeling of satisfaction and happiness. The estrogen levels tend to rise after your period ends and right before ovulation. Even the levels of progesterone rise and the hormone levels drop again when one doesn’t conceive. And, while this process will prepare your body to get pregnant, it may also cause mood shifts. 

mental health impact on periods
Yes, your stress levels can affect your periods. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
How mental well-being affects the menstrual cycle

As hormonal changes will occur during menstruation, your mental health may take a toll and impact your overall wellbeing. Stressing factors such as personal or financial reasons may negatively affect your menstrual cycle, making your periods delayed, stopped or even shorten the cycle. Stress could also lead to a painful period known as ‘dysmenorrhoea’. Women who are highly stressed could also experience painful cramps and shorten the average period cycle from 28 days to less than 24 days.

Depression is also a factor that negatively impacts your hormones and may lead to ‘amenorrhoea’, that is the absence of menstrual periods. For those taking antidepressants, note that it may increase the levels of a hormone called prolactin, which could delay your periods. You may also experience a heavy flow during the period cycle if you are stressed, anxious or depressed, thereby impacting your normal functionality. 

Takeaway 

Stress wreaks havoc on your hormones and leads to menstrual issues. So, it is the need of the hour to stay stress-free and manage your anxiety levels. To do so, you could opt for counseling, exercising on a daily basis and eating a well-balanced diet by excluding processed, junk and oily foods. You could also try relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. And, importantly, stay in touch with your gynaecologist and inform them about all the changes occurring in the body during periods. 

Dr Swati Gaikwad Dr Swati Gaikwad

Dr Swati Gaikwad, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Pune