Stress makes everything difficult, from hiding those puffy, dark under-eye bags to getting that perfect smooth glass skin. But you know what else is such a hassle? Periods. When it is that time of the month, zits break out, your appetite has gone out of whack, and you experience cramps — the intense, painful ones that are just a killer. As if all these evils are not enough, here is a kicker: your stress could be the very thing messing with your periods.
Messed Up Menstrual Cycles
When you are under stress, the body releases the hormone cortisol, which helps you fight or take flight from what is stressing you out. Basically, you are in survival mode. In this state, everything is directed towards helping you cope with the stress-trigger, which means the production of other hormones, including the ones responsible for your normal menstrual cycle, are put on a halt. The result? Well, the first of many things is that your ovulation may get delayed (and therefore your period, as well).
Beyond the physiological aspect, when you look at this from the evolutionary perspective, it makes absolute sense. Being pregnant in the middle of a stressful situation is not exactly an ideal scenario, right? It is like the body’s letting you deal first with whatever’s stressing out before letting you conceive.
Another way stress can affect your menstrual cycle is it causes an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen. The result of this is the uglies of being a girl: premenstrual syndrome symptoms, heavy periods, tender breasts, and yes, the painful cramps. There are instances when women stop having menstruations altogether for a certain period. The condition is called amenorrhea. When you experience this (along with severe dysmenorrhea), discuss your symptoms with a gynecologist immediately.
The Root of the Issue
It is a complex, messy situation when stress affects your menstrual cycle. Fortunately, it is easy to identify the fix: relieve your stress. This does not mean that it is going to be easy, though. Strive to ease out of your tension-filled situations.
For instance, dedicate a day in the week where you will pamper yourself. It does not have to be extravagant. Take a warm, long bath or go in for a therapeutic massage. Salt Lake City-based therapists can help relieve muscle tension, improve blood circulation, and just put you in a good mood. Massage particularly helps with menstrual cramps.
Aside from these relaxing activities, it is equally important to take time for workouts. Exercise helps lower cortisol and instead releases endorphins, the happy hormones and the body’s natural painkillers. Many studies say that women who maintain regular fitness routines experience less pain when they get their periods. If you are getting bored with your usual exercise, switch it up with yoga, swimming, or dancing.
Stress can do a lot of nasty things to your menstrual cycle, but you can very well prevent it. By keeping calm and facing stressors head on. Go do it with grace and poise.