Stress and periods

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Can stress delay my period? The answer is yes. Whilst we would always recommend speaking to your GP to rule out any underlying conditions that could be causing irregular periods, we want to highlight stress.

It’s an inevitable part of modern life. We have two nervous system states: the sympathetic and parasympathetic:

1. Sympathetic nervous system state

This is our fight or flight mode and stress response to dangerous scenarios.

2. Parasympathetic nervous system state

A relaxed state that helps us to rest, relax and digest our food.

Both of these are normal state. However, our sympathetic response often kicks in, in scenarios which should not be fight or flight, such as a full work email inbox.

Our sympathetic response developed when we had physical threats - like running away from a lion, so our bodies response is to move blood into muscles and away from other areas like our digestive tract so we would be able to run away.

The stresses we get now are less likely to need a physical response and therefore, we do not need blood diverted to our muscles. This can affect our periods as the sympathetic response can direct energy away from reproductive system and pelvis organs which can lead to irregular periods and PMS.

Stress can also manifest as:

Physical health:

  • Tension
  • Headaches
  • Stomach issues
  • Sleeplessness

Mental health

  • Anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability

So how can we manage stress?

Self care – a relaxing bath with aromatherapy oils, splashing out on a luxury face mask and journaling are all examples of self care

Meditation & mindfulness – these activities help to focus the mind on a singular, rather than a jumble of tasks. They can equip us to deal with situations with reduced stress

Exercise – exercise helps our body produce our feel good neurotransmitters (endorphins)

Sleep – getting 7-9 hours of sleep not only has a restorative effect on our body, but it can also help us process problems in a much better way.

When our stress is managed as best as we can, our body is in a healthier place and our hormones are more balanced. To learn more about how our lifestyle can help us ease stress, click here.

Further reading

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