Anyone with a period knows the stress and frustration related to a late period. Your first thought may be pregnancy, but many other factors can explain an irregular cycle. Stress is a big one.
How does stress affect the body? High levels of stress are often associated with irregular, more painful periods, and heightened or increasingly frequent premenstrual symptoms (bloating, nausea, shifts in mood, breast tenderness, weight fluctuations). Stress can also have a noticeable effect on the length and regularity of your cycle. A hormone imbalance can be triggered as the production of endorphin and cortisol, hormones typically released when we are stressed, is increased. This therefore interrupts the communication between your brain and ovaries further affecting your menstruation.
Where does this response come from? What does it mean? Stress essentially triggers your body’s fight or flight response. This made sense in our evolutionary history as it protected women from getting pregnant during times of threatened survival. Today however, our way of life has evolved, yet our physical and biological responses remain the same; our bodies cannot tell the difference between the stress caused by the life threat of a hungry lion and that of an unsettling meeting with your angry boss. A delayed or unpredictable menstrual cycle is the body’s way of expressing an unreadiness for ovulation and pregnancy!
Slight, sudden increases in short-lived stress can lead to you missing a period or having it be a couple days late. Chronic, daily stress however, which our bodies are not designed to deal with, is more difficult to manage and can lead to more erratic, long standing effects on your menstrual cycle.
How can stress be managed? Given the society we live in we all experience a certain level of stress on a daily basis and it's impossible to eliminate it completely. Luckily, there are ways to change or reduce the way it affects you.
- Be in tune with your emotions and sensations. Listen to your body and prioritize your mental health.
- Create a routine for yourself. This will help you find balance and satisfaction in your daily life and center yourself as you go about your day.
- Take time for yourself, investing in activities and hobbies that make you happy.
- Nourish your relationships! We often forget how important and comforting our circle of friends and family can be. Take time to connect and share with others.
- Practice self-care. Get sweaty, eat nutritious, colourful foods and make sure you are getting enough sleep!
In this new year, let's make an effort to work towards finding balance in our lives. After all, a balanced mind leads to a balanced body and lifestyle.
If you’re curious, our Cycle Set could also be a great investment when it comes to period protection during your cycle. It allows you to select a range of different underwear with different absorption levels for all your heavy, medium and maybe days.
Cheers to a more relaxed and pleasurable life!