We all agree stress isn’t great. Even if it is omnipresent in our society. And when it comes to our periods, stress can also influence our menstrual cycle! Delay, irregularity, pain or absence of periods… They can all affect the course of our cycle in different ways.
But how can these effects be identified and addressed?
Mme L’Ovary offers a short guide for you to understand the relationship between stress and the menstrual cycle, and how to reduce its impact.
How does stress affect my period?
The effects of stress on the menstrual cycle can take different forms:
Increased premenstrual pain and symptoms
Stress in the month before your period can increase your symptoms or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Plus, the connection between stress and painful periods has been shown in various studies.
Taking a moment to reflect on the previous month and the general state you were in may explain increased pain and/or emotional sensitivity. This is perfectly normal and you can embrace this expression of your body and find out what helps you relieve your menstrual cramps.
Absence or delay of menstruation and stress
Can stress delay my period? Experiencing stress during the follicular phase (from the first days of menstruation leading to ovulation) can result in delayed or absent ovulation. This can extend the length of the cycle and, in some cases, affect fertility.
Sometimes it’s a vicious cycle. The more you’re stressed out by the delay, the longer it takes for your period to arrive. Once a potential pregnancy has been ruled out, take a breath and accept that your body is experiencing the effects of the stress you’ve taken on. It can happen!
Menstrual cycle disturbances (whether it be longer or shorter cycles) are also common effects of stress. They can also be linked to a troubled lifestyle (fatigue, poor diet, lack of physical activity, etc.).
More or less abundant periods and stress
The impact of stress on the menstrual cycle can also be manifested by blood loss that is heavier or lighter than usual.This may be due to ovarian failure in response to the stress on the body.
It is therefore normal to have heavier or lighter periods due to stress, but also to have light bleeding outside of your period.
How do you approach stress and your period differently?
Firstly, to identify the link between stress and your period, you can try to understand the causes of your stress. What has been going on in the previous month(s)? Take a moment to connect the two!
Then, to reduce the impact of stress on your menstrual cycle, you need to take the time to do something nice for yourself! This can be done by :
- Physical activity: playing sports or any activity that gets you out of your own head and/or relaxes you is a great way to reduce your stress!
- Nutrition: eating less sugar, alcohol or coffee can help reduce stress and its impact on your menstrual cycle.
- Sleep: a tired and stressed body affects your physical and emotional balance.
- Take care of your mind: if you feel the need to, it can help to talk to people you trust or consult a therapist to help you understand the cause and how to manage your stress on a daily basis.
If your symptoms persist or if you are concerned about the impact of your stress on your menstrual cycle, don’t hesitate to consult a health professional!
Lastly, remember that it all starts with being gentle and loving to yourself. Your period is the reflection of your physical and emotional state. One step at a time, you can get to know yourself better, understand yourself and balance your daily life to live your period differently!