A study has revealed that the impact of stress related to pandemic life have taken a toll on women’s period cycles. Women have been experiencing major irregularities caused by pandemic stress, which experts point out can have a detrimental impact on long-term health concerns. Some had heavier menstrual flow while others had increased spotting between cycles. For others, their periods lasted unusually shorter or longer.

Pandemic Stains

The medical study has been published in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and analyzes data from 354 women who were questioned in May 2021. They were asked to recall pandemic-related stress and irregular period cycles in the past year.

Over half of them reported changes in their menstrual cycle length, menstrual flow, period duration, and spotting, and four percent confirmed a change in all these four measures.

Martina Anto-Ocrah, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and also leader of the study, said the results were “alarming” as an irregular period cycle can have terrible impact on fertility and mental health.

Younger women and those with a history of mental illness were more vulnerable to such changes. The data was collected from a racially diverse group, and the women were not on birth control.

The study mentioned that heightened levels of stress primarily came from the ‘disproportionate share of child care and housework’. Also dropping out of jobs and financial struggles were causes. The stress hormone cortisol affects production of estrogen and progesterone, the reproductive hormones involved with menstruation.

Read More: LinkedIn Survey Says Women And Gen Z Most Impacted By COVID-19

Other Aspects

Nicole Woitowich, a medical research assistant professor at Northwestern University, had also found a similar link between pandemic stress and altered period cycles in 2020, but her study was inconclusive.

She pointed out how women had gone through a lot, “from being the primary caregiver, from dealing with remote learning, and oftentimes working while navigating that as well”.

Other research also suggests that the coronavirus itself and vaccines also impacted menstrual cycles. Changes here also included irregular cycles or longer gaps between bleeds, mood changes, and fatigue. 

Experts point out the indifference and stigma related to women’s periods. Anto-Ocrah said, “Women are constantly being told, ‘This is in your head,'”. She added, “Until we get some data to show that what is in women’s heads is actually the truth, the medical society kind of turns us away and doesn’t believe it”.

Besides stress, period cycle aberrations can also indicate thyroid disease, hormonal changes, cancer, pregnancy or an infection. Candace Tingen, a program director at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, emphasized the importance of periods. “We talk about it as a fifth vital sign”, she said (the other four being body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration).

The pandemic had a greater impact on women’s period cycles than we had imagined.

Disclaimer: This article is fact-checked

Sources: The Print, The Washington Post, National Geographic

Image sources: Google Images

Feature Image designed by Saudamini Seth

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This post is tagged under: pandemic women’s periods, pandemic impact on women’s periods, pandemic stress affected menstruation cycles, irregular menstrual cycles, women’s health, women affected by pandemic, menstrual health, menstrual health awareness

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