Picture this: you’re hustling through life at a million miles a minute, juggling work, relationships, and self-care like a boss babe. But here’s the plot twist: your period.
Stress can throw a major curveball at your menstrual cycle and wreak all kinds of havoc on your body’s natural processes. There are some pretty interesting links between stress, periods, and overall women’s health.
10PM Curfew is your go-to for all things female lifestyle — and today we’re exploring whether stress truly can mess with your flow. So grab your fave snack, find a spot to chill, and join us!
Understanding Your Cycle
Before we spill the tea on stress and periods, let’s rewind and get the 411 on menstrual cycle basics.
Every month, your uterus gets ready for a baby by building up its lining and releasing an egg. If the egg doesn’t get fertilized, your uterine lining sheds, which means – drumroll, please – your period.
This may be news to you, but your menstrual cycle is ruled by a squad of hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. Think of them like the ultimate girl gang, working together to keep things on track. Well, that’s if everything goes right. Your hormones are sensitive, so any disruption to their harmony can wreak major havoc on your cycle (and your life).
And guess who is often the start of that mess? Stress.
How Does Stress Affect Your Period?
Let’s talk about stress.
When stress hits, your body reacts by doing all kinds of things. First, it releases cortisol and adrenaline, which is kind of like an alarm system. This is also called fight or flight.
We love this (and need this, thank you very much) when we’re in a life-or-death situation, like getting chased by a bear… but we don’t love these levels of stress so much when we’re just trying to sit at our desks and get some work done.
The activation of these hormones can mess with the hormonal balance that keeps your mind and body in check. Not only do you feel stressed mentally, but your body does, too, as these hormone levels crash your peaceful party and mess with your reproductive system.
Left untreated, this never-ending rollercoaster becomes chronic stress which can seriously mess with your brain’s control center, AKA the hypothalamus. You have this boss babe part of your brain to thank for regulating your period because it sends signals to your ovaries to do their thing.
As you can imagine, when stress doesn’t get the hint to leave and sticks around, it can mess with those signals, which means a potential delay in your ovulation, a late period, and the whole cycle’s timing changes. Talk about throwing your flow offbeat.
Your body’s stress response can also mess with the length of your cycle and make it totally random. You might have shorter or longer cycles, irregular periods, or your period may even be a total no-show, thanks to the stress that leaves your hormones all confused.
Even if you’re on birth control, this form of contraception still might not be able to beat the power of stress.
Stress can even lead to issues with your thyroid, weight loss, weight gain, other stress-relatedweight changes, polycystic ovary syndrome (a.k.a. PCOS), adrenal issues, early menopause, and other medical conditions.
How To Manage Stress
It pains us to say it, but in the fast-paced world we live in, stress is no stranger. For some of us, she’s a clingy acquaintance.
From deadlines at work to relationship drama to financial stress and the FOMO that social media causes, we’ve got more stressors on our plates than we can handle that shoots our cortisol levels through the roof. All that stress can totally mess with our periods, giving us yet another thing to stress about.
We’ve all been there: when we are stressed to the max, and suddenly Aunt Flo decides to totally ghost us. Like, thanks, girl, for the missed periods (a.k.a. amenorrhea). Your period’s playing hide-and-seek, and you’re now been more stressed, wondering if you’ve got a baby on the way and scrambling to the drugstore for a pregnancy test.
But here’s the scoop: the more you stress about your delayed period, the more stress you welcome in. This creates a vicious cycle that messes up your flow even more, and you don’t have time for that, babes.
It’s time to spill the tea on how you can slay that stress, deal with hormonal imbalance, and support your flow because you deserve to feel good.
Sweat It Out
Whatever your choice of workout is, now is your time to literally shine (with your sweat).
Whether it’s a dance class, yoga, HIIT, pilates, or boxing, you’ve gotta get your body movin’ and groovin’. This helps boost your mood and balance your hormones, which helps reduce your stress, support a healthy flow, and even help with cramps.
Plus, you get the added bonus of feeling more confident in your skin.
When you’re stressed, it feels like the last thing you have is time to sit down and meditate. We hate to burst your bubble, but this is when you need meditation the most.
All you need is five to 10 minutes where you put away your phone and other distractions, zone out of your mind, and tune into the #Zen. You can do this with the help of guided meditations (YouTube has tons of incredible ones) or even breathing exercises if meditation isn’t your thing (YouTube is also our go-to for this).
Journaling is another form of meditation that can help you get some stress out of your mind and onto paper. You may be surprised at how therapeutic this practice can be.
Whatever your mode of meditation, find something that helps calm your racing thoughts, ease anxiety, and restore balance to both your mind and body. Mental health is key to dealing with stress properly.
High levels of stress can make it easy to reach for foods that comfort you, but those are often the ones that don’t provide you with the nutrients you need. Listen, we aren’t telling you that you have to cut out ice cream (we would never), but it is important to fuel yourself with foods that support your hormone health and overall well-being.
This means lots of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, veggies, protein, and healthy fats. Yes, you read that right. We love healthy fats, so go to town.
Oh yeah, and water is your BFF, so be sure to keep a reusable bottle on hand.
Sleeping Beauty had it figured out – she knew a thing or two about getting those Zzzs. Beauty sleep does far more for you than help you look good – it helps you feel good, too. To regulate hormones and keep your menstrual cycle on track, you need proper sleep. And that means between seven and 10 hours per night.
That’s right – we’re giving you permission to clock 10 hours of shut-eye a night in the name of healthy hormones.
Phone a Friend
Stress is so common it’s almost weird when someone doesn’t experience it. And when times get tough, remember you’re not alone and can reach out to friends, family, or a professional when things feel overwhelming.
Talking about your stress and feelings and getting advice can give you the support you need. And if all you really need is a venting sesh, find someone who is willing to simply sit with you through that.
In the modern-day world, we’re connected 24/7 to anything and everything, everyone and everywhere. It’s exhausting. Chances are good that your stress is an SOS to you that it’s time for a digital detox.
We all get caught up in notifications that constantly send us in another mental (and sometimes emotional) direction.
Couple that with the comparison game we love to play on social media, and you have a recipe for disaster.
So step away from the screen and take time to focus on things happening in real life and in real time by making connections with others IRL, finding a new hobby, or even just spending some peaceful time in nature to recharge your spirit (get outside, bro).
Talk to Your OB/GYN
When taking matters into your own hands isn’t working, it’s time to talk to your gynecologist or healthcare provider about what’s going on in your body. He or she will help your menstrual period to get back on track by finding ways to reduce stress and get you back on a path of wellness.
The Bottom Line
Stress and periods are quite a dynamic duo, but one that we try not to welcome into our homes. Now that you understand the connection, we hope you feel more empowered to take charge of your mental and physical health and, as a result, your menstrual cycle.
Though stress can seriously disrupt your flow, it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can achieve a balanced cycle by incorporating self-care practices, staying active, nourishing your body, and finding healthy ways to manage stress. We believe in you, girl! You’re fierce and can absolutely conquer stress, slay your periods, and keep your flow on point. You’ve got this!
To stay on top of your health game and how to feel your best, follow along with 10PM Curfew and all our millennial and Gen-Z lifestyle content that will level up your life.