Can Stress Affect Your Period? Navigating Menstruation and Mental Health
If our physical health isn’t as strong as it could be, we’ll start to notice it in the ways our body functions. The same often applies to mental health. Stress causes our bodies to react in all kinds of ways, and our periods are no exception. If we're under too much stress, the dates, flow and regularity of our periods may change.
Relationship Between Menstruation and Mental Health
Hormones have a big part to play here, and unfortunately the relationship between menstruation and mental health can be a bit of a vicious circle. Fluctuating hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can affect mental health, and mental health can also have an impact on the menstrual cycle.
Can Stress Affect Your Period?
Missed periods can also occur, due to the excess cortisol your body produces when stressed. This influences the amount of estrogen and progesterone that are produced, causing missed periods.
In a nutshell, stress and hormone changes can throw your cycle into chaos. Your body begins to work on the basis that you can’t handle pregnancy - and therefore doesn’t menstruate.
How Does Stress Affect Your Period?
Stress can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance in your body, which can result in irregular periods. Not only can it impact the length of your menstrual cycle, resulting in shorter or longer cycles than usual, stress may also lead to skipped periods (amenorrhea) or unpredictable spotting between periods.
Changes in menstrual flow
High levels of stress can affect the flow of your menstrual blood. Some women may experience heavier or lighter periods than normal during stressful periods. Stress can also cause painful periods (dysmenorrhea).
Stress triggers the release of cortisol, which can interfere with the normal production and regulation of reproductive hormones. This hormonal imbalance can disrupt ovulation, leading to changes in your menstrual cycle.
Prolonged or chronic stress can contribute to more severe hormonal imbalances, affecting the regularity and quality of your periods.
Can emotional stress affect menstrual cycle?
Yes. A lack of sleep or food as well as worry or feelings of overwhelm can affect your brain chemistry - and your menstrual cycle as a result. Breathing exercises, mindfulness and meditation can all help you to combat feelings of emotional stress.
What kind of stress affects periods?
Menstruation can be affected by all kinds of stress, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional. Being busy at work, travelling a lot, not eating well or going through emotional upheaval can all contribute to a hormonal imbalance, which can take its toll on your period.
What can throw off your period?
It’s not just stress that can cause your periods to change. Weight loss, exercise, contraception, thyroid issues, breastfeeding, poor sleep and certain health conditions (like polycystic ovary syndrome - or PCOS) can all impact your monthly cycle.
Can stress cancel your period?
If a menstruating person is under a severe amount of stress, it can result in missed periods - or periods stopping altogether. This happens when the body is so stressed out, it doesn’t release the hormones needed to reproduce.
The good news is, lifestyle changes including improved nutrition, exercise and mental wellbeing can all help to regulate your menstrual cycle, as well as protecting your general health.
Final Thoughts on Can Stress Affect Your Period
Medical research supports the link between stress and your period. Stress causes a hormonal shift in your body, which has a knock-on effect on the dates, flow and the regularity of your menstrual cycle.
Protecting your mental health plays a major part in maintaining a good physical state. If you feel stressed out and have noticed a change in your period, breathing exercises, mindfulness and meditation can help to combat this.
If you feel you’re struggling to manage your stress levels, always seek support from friends, family or your healthcare provider. Remember, stress isn’t always the reason why your period has stopped, and your doctor can refer you to a specialist if they think an underlying medical condition could be at play.