Reviewed by

Rebecca Verhofstede - Midwife & Cycle Expert

  • Hormones
  • Libido
  • Mood

How Stress Affects Your Period

We all experience stress. There’s every-day stress like a bad hair day and then there’s chronic stress that has an influence on your body.

What makes them different? Well, every day stress is normal, and in some cases, a bit of stress can also be helpful (as in, you’re stressed about an upcoming exam, so you study more!)

But chronic, long-term stress is not so good. Too much stress can take its toll on you – and your menstrual health. It can cause acne, headaches, weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, digestive issues and can even mess with your menstrual cycle and fertility. Yes, your body is smart, so it knows that periods of stress aren’t good times to have a baby. If you're not trying for kids you might think that it doesn’t matter to you, but let us tell you something... At Guud Woman we believe every woman deserves a healthy cycle and a healthy cycle is a fertile cycle (this means you need to ovulate on a regular basis).

What’s the big deal?

When your body is stressed, your body will prioritise making more cortisol which is the primary stress hormone. When your body makes more cortisol your progesterone levels decrease because progesterone is the precursor to cortisol. And, when this happens, it can throw your hormonal levels out of whack. It can lead to changes in the frequency and duration of your period and make your menstrual issues worse every month.

What triggers stress? Not only work or emotional problems can lead to more stress but also other factors such as intense workouts, disrupted sleep, too much caffeine & intermittent fasting can put more stress on your body.

Read: The Woman’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

How much stress is too much?

Stress is a problem if you notice any of the following on a regular basis:

- Your period is late
- Your period is early
- Your period stops all-together
- Your period is heavier
- Your period is more painful
- You are spotting between periods

What's a girl to do?

You’ve got to find a way to de-stress. Easier said than done, we know, but bringing your cortisol levels down is critical if you’re going to get your hormones back on track.

You can crank down your stress levels by:

  • Making sleep a priority. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep every night and try to have a consistent bed time.
  • Practice mindfulness. Life, in general, can be stressful, but things like yoga or meditation are proven to help reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels.
  • Exercise. Aim for at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. If you’re a professional athlete, and you train every day, you may benefit from seeing a doctor who specialises in sports medicine. They will be able to give you advice on how to maintain your performance without disrupting your cycle. At the very least, you need to start prioritising recovery and rest days.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine. We’re not saying that you need to give up your morning flat white but know that too much caffeine can make you anxious and jittery. Back off the coffee for a while or try decaf instead.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and essential fatty acids (found in oily fish like salmon). These foods help keep your brain healthy and help balance your hormones.
  • Increase your magnesium intake. Magnesium is proven to calm the nervous system and reduce stress. It can help decrease anxiety and increase your capacity to cope with stress.You can increase your intake of magnesium rich foods (like green leafy vegetables, dark chocolate and nuts) or take a supplement like Guud Vibes.
  • Have fun! Do something you enjoy every day. Spend time with friends, laugh, listen to music, dance like there’s nobody watching.Letting loose once in a while can do wonders to lower cortisol levels.

When to call in the big guns

Most cycles are around 28 days or so, but its common to have a shorter or longer cycle (22-40 days).

If you’ve ruled out pregnancy and have missed more than three periods in a row, it’s time to call your GP.

If your period is so painful or heavy that it stops you from doing everyday activities, you should also get an appointment with your GP ASAP to rule out anything more serious.

Depending on your medical and personal history, your GP may recommend waiting to see if your periods return on their own.In some cases, you may need treatment for your periods to return.

Looking to get your cycle on track? Need more advice on healthy hormonal balance? Check out our range of supplements to help you feel guud every day of the month.