It is not only pregnancy that could the reason for missing periods; it could happen due to stress too. Due to the corona epidemic, experts suggest that “there is a lot of stress in women and it could be directly affecting their periods”.
Due to being locked indoors for a long time, routine activities like sleep patterns, eating habits, physical activity have been affected. Problems of extreme stomach cramps and headaches are also being seen. Dr Anubha Singh, gynecologist and IVF expert from Shantah Fertility Centre said, “Many patients have informed us over phone that their periods have become irregular and after talking to them it was found that they are feeling very stressed.”
“The reason for this is that the Covid 19 lockdown has spoiled their daily routine. Stress issues in women have increased due to the epidemic. Stress affects the amount of cortisol produced by the body. Among women who are under high stress, 40 per cent of women complain of infertility. However, there is no concrete evidence that infertility is due to stress,” she added.
Besides exacerbating pre-existing hormonal imbalances, stress could also trigger imbalances and even PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) in women. “If you had been borderline PCOS all along, this stress induced by the pandemic might push you over to the other side. The uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, and the fact that no one really knows when this might end, has resulted in widespread panic. Also since most women are now locked indoors, they’re probably not leading the healthiest of lives. Such unusual situations could exacerbate pre-existing hormonal imbalances in women. For instance, if a woman had been diagnosed with mild PCOS, it might get aggravated during this time,” explained Dr Singh.
The imbalance of insulin which causes the secretion of leptin hormone could be resulting in stress such that women who are used to a cycle of within the first 30 days, may now find it delayed by 7-8 days or even more. This is called oligomenorrhea.
How stress manifests?
When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol. When it is in abundance, it reduces estrogen production which leads to a spike in androgen levels. Androgen plays an important role in connecting with the sebaceous glands. At greater stress levels, these glands produce oil. Excess oil stops our skin pores, and causes an inflammation that takes the form of an acne.
If hormonal imbalances persist in women, it could affect hair growth, lead to bloating, hair fall, trouble in concentrating and even lead to impaired fertility in the long run. Dr Shobha Gupta, medical director and IVF specialist, Mother’s Lap IVF Centre said, “Cases have been seen where women under extreme stress or duress have stopped having periods altogether. Although we’ve not reached that stage yet, we just might if things continue the way they are now.”
Everyone is trying to ease these situations or stay calm. “One key factor in reducing stress levels is coming to terms with the fact that the current situation, where all of country and the world is locked down, is not in anyone’s hands and working on oneself is really the best way to deal with it. Try and make a fixed routine for your day, eat healthy foods, sleep on time, and try to be happy as much as possible. Do not take stress unnecessarily,” added Dr Gupta.