Stress is a part of daily life but when it gets too intense, it can wreak havoc on both mental and physical health – but can stress delay your period? If it has never happened to you, consider yourself lucky.
Learn about the interplay between stress and periods, including whether stress can cause missed periods. Plus, find out how AIMA is tackling the gender pain gap through advocacy and period relief products.
All About Stress and Periods
Stress is a normal reaction to challenges and situations that make us uncomfortable. It is a necessary part of survival that allows us to prepare for and react to situations that pose a threat to our safety. So how do stress and periods interact?
Stress causes physiological changes in your body through the release of adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are most commonly associated with the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. Adrenaline causes your heart rate to increase, breathing to speed up, and pupils to dilate. Cortisol increases the sugar in your blood so that you have the energy needed to act, and quiets functions that are non-essential in an emergency, including the reproductive and digestive systems.
While this is useful if you need to outrun a hungry lion or fight off a robber, it’s harmful to your body to have chronically high levels of cortisol when you aren’t facing a mortal threat. Constant stress means you are essentially in a prolonged fight-or-flight state in which your brain is suppressing your reproductive functions, including causing delayed or skipped periods.
To make things worse, chronic stress often leads to disrupted sleep and poor eating habits, which feeds a downward spiral of more stress, which releases more cortisol, and so on. So, can stress delay your period? The short answer is yes!
How Long Can Stress Delay Periods?
Now that you know that stress can impact your period, you may be wondering how long can stress delay a period, and at what point should you be concerned. It’s not unusual for your period to be a few days late from time to time. How late it is will depend on your body and stress levels.
Not only can stress delay your period but it can cause you to miss a period entirely when your stress hormones are suppressing the production of the reproductive hormones that stimulate menstruation. Nobody likes an extremely painful period but having no period at all is an equal cause for concern!
If you’ve missed three periods in a row and have ruled out pregnancy, it’s time to see a doctor. Your doctor will want to rule out other conditions that can affect your hormones, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), before confirming that stress is causing missed periods.
Tips to Manage Stress for a Better Menstrual Cycle
Everyone responds differently to stress, just as everyone experiences premenstrual symptoms differently. While you may be tempted to eat salty or sweet processed foods while binging a season of the latest Netflix hit, it’s more constructive to develop positive coping mechanisms that reduce your stress levels and help return your hormonal balance.
If you’ve experienced a skipped period or have noticed that stress is causing a delay in your periods, here are some healthy ways to counteract stress:
- Regular physical exercise
Exercise releases endorphins, which are cannabis-like brain chemicals that improve your mood. Plus, being physically active can boost your energy, help you sleep better, provide relief for menstrual cramps, and reduce the risk of several health issues. You don’t have to run a marathon to reap the benefits. Something as simple as taking a 20-minute walk each day can help reduce stress, especially if it’s in a green outdoor space.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Making sure you eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will ensure that you get the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to carry out cellular processes. A healthy diet can help maintain normal hormone levels to avoid skipped periods and is also a recommended treatment for symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, PMS, and more.
- Learn how to meditate and practice deep breathing exercises
Meditation and deep breathing can be done together and offer a powerful way to calm an anxious mind by training you to focus your attention on something calming. It can help put things in perspective, reduce overwhelm, and give you effective techniques for dealing with stress anytime, anywhere.
- Make sure you get a good sleep
‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ is not the life philosophy you want to follow if you want to be healthy, happy, and hormonally balanced. Getting enough high-quality sleep is crucial for managing stress, as this is a time for the body to rest, repair, and restore itself. If you have trouble sleeping, try to stick to a consistent bedtime, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and avoid screen time just before bed.
- Have fun
Being overworked and not having enough time to do things you enjoy is a path to burnout and chronic stress. Be sure to intentionally schedule days or blocks of time during which you do something you love, whether that means going out for live music, taking a hike, or advocating to reduce the pain gap!
AIMA Is All About Supporting Women and Menstruators Throughout All of It
We’ve seen why stress can cause missed periods, but for some menstruators, their period can actually be the cause of stress! Stress and periods go hand in hand for those who suffer from extremely painful periods, ovarian pain, or discomfort in the lower abdomen.
Women in pain have been ignored for decades due to the gender pain gap, but AIMA is fighting to change this by raising awareness and providing an innovative solution for period pain. The OVY is a vaginal CBD suppository designed to provide effective, localized relief for period discomfort by acting on cannabinoid receptors in the reproductive tract.
We want all menstruators to know that we see you, we hear you, and we know your period pain is real. OVY offers a CBD alternative to potentially harmful pain medicine for cramps that is clinically tested and designed with menstruators in mind. If you’re wondering how to get relief from period pain, be sure to learn more about OVY and sign up for the waitlist!