Have you been experiencing scanty or irregular periods? To reassure you, it isn’t uncommon. Many women go through this. Your period is an intricate and sensitive process that can get affected by various factors such as an improper diet, a hectic lifestyle, and stress.
We’ve all been through times when stress gets the better of us, negatively affecting the sleep cycle, blood pressure, sex drive and of course, your menstrual cycle.
Yes, ladies, the female reproductive system can be affected by stress. In fact, stress can play a role in causing irregular or missed periods. According to the US-based Office on Women’s Health, women with anxiety disorders are more likely to have shorter menstrual cycles or lighter flows.
Regulation of the menstrual cycle is controlled by a complex hormonal balance. But, stress leads to changes in the body, including changes in the level of hormones. The hormonal imbalance interferes with the menstrual cycle. Apart from this, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, both parts of the brain, control the menstrual cycle. They are sensitive to external factors like exercise, sleep, and stress. When you’re under stress, your body makes a hormone called cortisol which can wreak havoc on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. This results in irregular or scanty periods.
Due to stress, your body produces low levels of serotonin which is linked with irritability and sadness. An extreme level of stress can exacerbate the mood swings associated with our periods.
Stress and anxiety induce hormonal changes which can cause irregular periods. When you’re under stress, the body releases a hormone called cortisol which directly affects the level of oestrogen and progesterone. It can also affect the timing of your menstrual cycle. An irregular cycle can be of 2 types:
Menstrual pain is sometimes associated with stress. If you’re more stressed than usual, the adrenal gland releases the hormone cortisol into the bloodstream. This can trigger abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, nausea, and stomach cramps.
In some cases, stress can lead to amenorrhea where you’ll start missing your periods. But, if you miss 3 three or more periods, you should see a doctor.
Often, women with high levels of stress might complain about premenstrual syndrome. PMS symptoms include body ache, bloating, low back pain, cramps, and headache.
To sum it up
Everyone experiences stress from time to time in their lives, but it can take a serious toll on your menstrual period and on your health. So, take active steps to reduce stress levels.