Everyone experiences stress at some point of time and it can lead to changes in one’s menstrual cycles. Yes, you have heard it right! Stress from extreme or traumatic events has been associated with dramatic changes in normal menstruation patterns. It is the need of the hour to lead a stress-free life and have a happy period. To do so, you will have to embrace a healthy lifestyle, says Dr. Pratima Thamke, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. The expert also explains how stress affects the menstrual cycle and shares tips to enjoy stress-free periods.

Women, are you stressed out owing to the pandemic? Work from home is snatching away your peace of mind as you are unable to strike a work/life balance?  Do you find it difficult to do your daily chores owing to the lack of help due to pandemic? Then, you will be shocked to know that being stressed can alter your menstrual cycles.

How stress affects the menstrual cycle?

Yes, stress will take a toll on the female reproductive system. Stress arising from any situation can lead to rapid breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and frequent urination, and irregular or missed periods. One will also experience a condition known as amenorrhoea wherein the periods will be stopped on a temporary basis – says Dr. Pratima.

She adds – Stress affects the frequency and duration of the period. Dysmenorrhoea that is menstrual cramping is also linked to stress and one will have painful periods. Did you know? Hormones are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which create a response in one’s ovaries. The menstrual flow is determined by the smooth balance created between hormones estrogen and progesterone. Thus, stress will disturb the hormonal pattern. This causes missed periods, delayed bleeding, breakthrough bleeding, or an early period. Stress will cause the body to delay or entirely suppress one’s ovulation. Thus, cortisol- a stress hormone can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle.

How can you enjoy stress-free periods?

Dr. Pratima suggests some dos and don’ts to help you enjoy stress-free periods. She says –

Exercise daily

Are you physically active? If no, then you must start exercising right away! Exercising has surprising benefits.  It will help you improve the blood flow to your abdominal region and combat pain. Furthermore, working out produces endorphins that are natural pain relievers and make your periods pain-free. Try to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation that will rejuvenate you. Furthermore, it is also recommended to do breathing exercises to de-stress.

Try heat therapy

Using a hot water bag will help relax your contracting muscles in the uterus that induce pain. Even heat pads are available that will soothe you.

Eat a well-balanced diet

Eat healthy for a stress-free period. Opt for the omega-3 fatty acid diet to manage period pain. Also, try to include enough proteins, vitamins, and minerals in the diet. Having omega 3s will help you perk up your mood and improve the functioning of the brain. Eat mushrooms, tofu, beet, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, chicken, salmon, sardine, or mackerel. Having calcium will regulate menstruation. Opt for milk, orange juice, and even eggs.  Load your diet with foods containing vitamin D to tackle menstrual cycle disorders. Try to stay hydrated by drinking enough water to manage period cramps. Also, boost your fiber intake to tackle bloating which is a symptom of PMS.

Avoid processed foods

Do not eat packaged, junk, and oily foods. Avoid saturated fats. Say NO to cream, cake, pasta, pizza, or chips. Do not eat food rich in salt. Too much sodium can cause water retention and even bloating. Have excessive caffeine worsens your cramps and leads to heavy bleeding.

Relax and pamper yourself

Well you will have to rest enough and get a sound sleep. Do not exert yourself. do not do any activities that require a lot of effort and stress. Just chill or opt for a hair spa. Even getting a massage will be soothing for you.

Stay in touch with your family and friends

You will have to do things that boost your mood and refresh you. Try to stay in touch with your loved ones via video or phone calls.  Enjoy activities that you like. Opt for reading, listening to music, watching movies, comedy shows, or gardening. This will reduce stress and help you stay composed. Have an optimistic approach, use good sanitary products, and manage the pain.

This post first appeared on The Health Site

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