Why The Pandemic Could Be Messing Up Your Period
Spoiler: You’re stressed.
2020 has been pretty rough for everyone. It’s no revelation that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused insurmountable stress on the economy and our personal lives — but did you know it could be affecting your period too?
In an article by Clue, author Maegan Boutot explains “Stress from extreme or traumatic events has been linked to dramatic changes in normal menstruation.” Examples of extreme or traumatic events include war, separation from family, famine, and dare we say it, Covid-19.
Many women have been complaining of major changes to their menstrual cycle since the pandemic began, with some no doubt, in the dark as to why. If you are one of these confused af women, allow me to explain what might be happening in your body.
The menstrual cycle:
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, with most women having a cycle in the range of 21-35 days. If your period comes more frequently than 21 days, or you go longer than 35 days without having one, then you are experiencing an irregular period. Whilst it’s relatively normal to have the odd irregular period, it’s important to see a Dr. if this persists. Reasons for an irregular period include, but aren’t limited to, pregnancy (duh), changes in body weight, being on the pill, PCOS, and good ol’ fashioned stress.
How stress affects the menstrual cycle:
Short story: cortisol. Long story: cortisol is a hormone that regulates a wide range of processes in the body including metabolism and immune response. It also plays a crucial role in helping the body fight off stress. Too much cortisol can be bad, and that’s when we start to see problems, e.g. decrease in sex drive, and irregular periods. Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) has also been associated with stress, with tension from the preceding month even known to affect the frequency of dysmenorrhea.
That’s great to know, but how can we prevent this? Here are a few ways…
A noncomprehensive list of how to reduce stress:
As with most things, reducing your levels of stress takes time — and a huge amount of effort in a pandemic. You can start by practicing mindfulness; take up yoga, meditate with an app, or perhaps work on some breathing exercises. If being still isn’t your jam why not hit the gym and work on that new year’s resolution you forgot about in February? A healthy diet is also beneficial to get your body back on track, as much as we wish it wasn’t. Other than that, talk to your friends! Sometimes a good vent is all we need, and trust me, woman, you aren’t the only one who’s stressed out.
Images by Cottonbro and Karolina Grabowska