Jul 2021

How Stress Plays A Role with Your Period

  • By: Samantha Denäe

Stress plays an important role in our lives and even more, with our periods. It is important to keep your stress levels low as we all know stress can be a literal killer, but how does stress have an effect our periods? 

When stressed, the body will activate a hormonal pathway called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). When the HPA axis is activated the levels of cortisol and the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) will increase. These three entities (HPA axis, cortisol, and CRH) all work together to aid in controlling the stress response of the body. 

The release of CRH and cortisol can cause normal levels of reproductive hormones to suppress. This has the potential to possibly lead to anovulation (lack or absence of ovulation) or abnormal ovulation or amenorrhea, the absence of menstruation. 

Extreme or traumatic events like physical, emotional and sexual abuse, all of which can be the cause of stress, can have a dramatic effect on normal menstruation. This could be the reason for amenorrhea. They are also linked to PMS and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). One of the symptoms associated with PMDD is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  

Having high stress may also cause longer cycles, dysmenorrhea, and its frequency. Different effects of stress could also be linked to timing of your period. Higher stress during the follicular phase (from the first day of menstruation until ovulation) can create a change in normal reproductive function, causing your chances to become pregnant less likely during ovulation. Therefore, the effects stress causes during ovulation may be a big reason that changes in cycle length occurs.

Avoiding stress is extremely hard but learning how to manage your stress can help especially if it is causing painful and/or prolonged periods. Daily meditation, exercise, restful sleep, maintaining a healthy diet are just a few things to keep your stress level low. 

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