Stress is a natural part of life. Although a certain amount of stress can be good and even help us challenge ourselves, too much stress at any given time can negatively affect our mental and physical health. A woman’s hormones and brain chemistry offer some protection from stress, but women are still more deeply affected by the effects of being over-stressed than men. And these effects can manifest themselves in a number of ways, including leading to irregularities with menstrual periods.
According to findings from the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who work in overly-stressful jobs have a 50% higher risk for shortened menstrual cycles (less than 24 days) than women who work in lower-stress positions. Chronic stress that builds up over a period of time can fundamentally alter the body’s hormone balance, throwing your normal menstruation cycle out of whack. This can lead to periods that are late, abnormally heavy or light, or missed entirely.
We can’t tell you to avoid getting stressed out entirely; that’s just not possible. We can however recommend a number of things that can help you promote better menstrual health by managing your stress in a healthy, productive way. Try out the following suggestions:
- Improving your diet (eating well-balanced meals and cutting out junk food) can help reduce stress by improving your physical well-being and emotional health.
- Don’t forget to exercise. Being physically active can be a terrific way to improve your physical health, lift your spirits, and promote the release of endorphins, a natural brain chemical associated with your mood.
- Find fun ways to relax. Picking up a hobby can be a great way to help unwind at the end of a long day. Knitting and needlepoint are known to have stress-reducing effects.
- Try breathing exercises, as well as non-strenuous activities like yoga, meditation, and tai chi that can help both the mind and body cool down.
- Talk it out. Simply talking about what is causing your increased stress can be a great way to get it off your chest, as opposed to just letting it pile up without a release.
Remember not to go nuts trying to eliminate stress from your life entirely. The best you can do is accept that stress is unavoidable and work on your methods on how to reduce and manage it before any menstrual issues should occur. For more information on stress and gynecological health, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips on reproductive health and updates on our upcoming health & wellness events.