A slew of physiological changes may be brought on by stress. It has an impact on both our emotional and physical well-being. The menstrual cycle is included in this. Cortisol, a stress hormone, can affect the hormonal pathways that regulate the menstrual cycle at various stages.
Stress can impact the typical hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle.
What Are The Menstrual Cycle’s Hormonal Shifts?
Various hormone levels in the body regulate the menstrual cycle by rising and falling again and over again. And our hormone levels are significantly impacted by stress.
Let’s first look at the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle, and then we can talk about how stress impacts menstruation.
Hormonal shifts include the following:
- When the ovaries begin to mature eggs for ovulation, the follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) rises.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) increases, causing the egg to develop and be released.
- When the uterus gets oestrogen boosts, it signals to the egg to fertilise.
- An increase in progesterone instructs the uterus to keep its lining in place in the case of egg implantation.
Menstruation and the beginning of the cycle are made possible by a decrease in oestrogen and progesterone that occurs naturally after the cycle when an egg has not been fertilised.
There is a direct link between the ovaries and the brain responsible for all these alterations. The hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis is the medical term for this. FSH and LH are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands of the brain. And the brain uses these chemicals to communicate with the ovaries.
Estrogen and progesterone are produced in the ovaries and return to the brain as essential feedback.
However, there is a two-way exchange between the brain and the adrenal glands. Cortisol is produced in these tiny glands positioned near the kidneys.
When we are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released. Cortisol can disrupt the feedback loop when it enters the discourse.
Menstrual Cycle Hormones And Stress: How Do They Interact?
The adrenal glands release cortisol when we’re in a stressful environment. This is so because cortisol prepares our bodies for a “fight-or-flight” reaction. This adrenal response is an essential element of our evolutionary history.
Among other things, it raises our heart and respiratory rates. In addition, it serves to guide blood flow to the muscles themselves.
The hypothalamus is also influenced by cortisol, which instructs it to cease generating the chemicals responsible for triggering the menstrual cycle. Women were shielded from becoming pregnant during times of danger because of this evolutionary trait.
Psychological stress is something that most of us deal with daily. And our bodies weren’t built to handle the constant stress of daily life. As a result, when the adrenal glands constantly produce cortisol, it might have unforeseen implications on our health.
The following are some of the changes you may notice:
- A lengthy delay in periods
- The early arrival of periods
- PMS symptoms might be a lot worse than they used to be (Premenstrual Syndrome)
- Missing a period
Reducing the Effects of Stress
Here’s how you can work on reducing the effects of stress on your body and thus on your period:
Be Conscious of Your Physical Health
When you’re worried, you turn to sweets like chocolate and ice cream for comfort. These “comfort foods,” on the other hand, can make things worse. The temptation to eat fast food and bad meals might be strong; however, sticking to your dietary plan can help your body cope better with stress.
Engage in Consistent Physical Activity Routine
Stress can be relieved by burning calories. It also aids in preventing stroke and heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Meditation with a guide is an excellent approach to reducing tension and anxiety. Have no idea where to begin? You don’t need much more than a calm environment, a comfortable position, and an open mind to succeed.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
A good night’s sleep is often sacrificed to deal with stress, which is a pity because sleep allows your body to “reboot.” By avoiding caffeine later in the day, cutting off “screen time” for a few hours before bedtime, and keeping your bedtime the same every night, you may ensure that you get adequate sleep.
Caffeine Should Be Reduced (or Removed)
Too much coffee might leave you feeling restless and agitated. Stop drinking coffee and soda for the time being. Decaffeinated options and a cup of decaffeinated tea are also available.
Seek Advice From A Professional Counsellor
Anxiety can be debilitating at times, interfering with your normal activities. Then we recommend you seek the advice of a certified counsellor who can assist you adjust and developing new coping mechanisms.
How Long Can You Go Without A Period Due To Stress?
No matter how long it takes, it shouldn’t halt your menstruation. If you don’t get a period, you may have amenorrhea, which might signify a more serious problem. Amenorrhea can be brought on by various conditions, including hormonal imbalances, thyroid issues, and even pituitary gland tumours.
Are there other reasons for the anomalies in a woman’s menstrual cycle?
There are several possible reasons for menstrual cycle abnormalities, including:
- Breastfeeding might be an early indicator of pregnancy. Women who breastfeed after giving birth are more likely to postpone the onset of menstruation.
- Excessive weight loss or exercise is a kind of eating disorder. Menstruation can be disrupted by anorexia nervosa, significant weight reduction, and increased physical activity.
- Syndrome of polycystic ovaries (PCOS). This frequent endocrine system problem can cause irregular periods and enlarged ovaries with little collections of fluid called follicles in each ovary, which can be detected on ultrasound.
- Failure of the ovaries before their time. An ovarian failure that occurs before the age of 40 is known as premature ovarian failure. When a woman suffers from primary ovarian insufficiency (also known as early ovarian failure), her periods may be irregular or nonexistent for years.
- Inflammation of the urethra (PID). This genital infection can cause menstrual irregularities.
- Infertility. Noncancerous uterine growths are referred to as uterine fibroids. Menstrual cramps and bleeding are also possible side effects.
Restoring a regular menstrual cycle may be as simple as finding healthier ways to cope with stress and anxiety. It is possible to lessen your stress levels and manage your stress symptoms by talking to a therapist or using anti-anxiety medication.
No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to rid yourself of stress entirely. It’s essential to find healthy ways to deal with stress to keep it from wreaking havoc on your body.