The COVID 19 pandemic has changed the way we work, connect with others, and carry out daily activities. In a time of massive uncertainty, it may seem like the menstrual cycle is the only safe thing in our life right now. However, it doesn’t take much to interrupt it.
The main culprit for this is the very real stress associated with the COVID-19 crisis. The World Health Organization has noted that the greatest psychological impact of COVID-19 to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. Being stressed is not just a mental experience, but the body reacts to stress in different ways.
Stress activates a certain hormonal pathway that promotes the release of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Excessive cortisol release can suppress normal levels of reproductive hormones and potentially lead to abnormal ovulation, which can disrupt the cycle.
Based on our perceived levels of stress and psychological brain signalling, our bodies may decide that it is not a good time to ovulate or have a period. According to a COVID 19 update, a menstrual cycle requires “a delicate group of events so that the right hormones are created at the right time” and stress can disrupt that.
Irregularity of the menstrual cycle:
According to Jennifer Conti, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Stanford University, the medical community does not have enough information about how COVID-19 affects other organ systems in your body.
That said, “it is not irrational to think that the physical and mental health that it exerts on your body could have subsequent effects on your reproductive health, including the regularity of your menstrual cycle” said the specialist.
The effect of stress hormones:
Stress hormones can affect the regular hormonal cycle and divert it. This means that the cycle can be early, late, or not at all. The most common form of an interrupted menstrual cycle is a missed or delayed period. This happens because the body is adapting to protect itself. When we are in a state of perceived stress, our system prioritizes safety over ovulation.
The period is influenced by our diet, sleep, exercise routines, and more:
During this time of physical distancing, many people experience a dramatic change from their usual routine. As a result, they may notice a missed period, spotting, or even a heavier discharge than usual. Furthermore, the sudden change in routine has also caused people to forget to take their birth control pills, which can also interrupt a monthly period.
Amenorrhea, the absence of periods, is known to occur when someone has gone through a traumatic event. The stresses of daily life can also affect how long a cycle lasts.
However, there are probably many factors at play if they stop altogether. Dysmenorrhea, painful menstruation, has been linked to high-stress situations. That is why people who already experience menstrual pain are more likely to be affected by this phenomenon.
The physical symptoms that COVID-19 can present in the body, such as fever, nausea, diarrhea, and possibly pneumonia, may be to blame if a person has a break in their period - explains Marsha Granese at Mission Hospital in southern California. But this is generally short-term and extends for the duration of the COVID-19 symptoms - he said.
When there are situations like the current one, in which we are all experiencing distress. That is, prolonged stress, the set of hormonal functions can alter their synchronized rhythm. Thus, it produces other alterations of the menstrual cycle such as increased frequency, having two bleeding in the same month, which may be menstruation or breakthrough bleeding. In such cases, the high quality of sanitary napkin is beneficial.
Other possible reasons for a missed or changed period:
Of course, life still exists even though we are in a pandemic. There are also several other possible non-coronavirus reasons why someone could miss a period. Some triggers:
The pandemic and the COVID-19 lockdown are stressful and the body will react in different ways to pressure. It’s hard not to jump to conclusions when you miss a period, especially if your cycle is usually very regular. However, a change in an exercise regimen, birth control, and mental health could be contributing factors.