Hormones & Cycles

How the Corona Crisis may affect your period

Have you wondered about changes in your period during the quarantine? Don’t worry- you’re not alone.

In fact, the amount of time we spend at home and our current state of mind can have a huge impact on our cycle. So it is quite possible that you will feel a change during your next period, or have already felt them during past "quarantine periods".

Delayed or missing period

The anxiety and uncertainty that currently surround us results in stress for many, which in turn can affect our periods. Stress can affect both mental and physical health as it activates a hormonal pathway in the body which is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). In addition, the body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. This combination can suppress normal levels of reproductive hormones such as the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which can possibly lead to abnormal ovulation, which in turn can disrupt your menstrual cycle.

Your cycle length may change

The results of some studies have shown that there is a connection between high stress and the absence of ovulation, but also that the length of the cycle can change. In some cases the cycle is significantly shorter when the woman is under stress.

But it's not just stress.

To attribute changes in the cycle solely to stress and psychological strain, would be a mistake. The corona measures affect many areas of our lives, forcing us to adopt new daily rhythms. But new routines in daily life also change our cycle. Perhaps you are currently doing significantly more, much less or completely different sports than before Corona. Instead of the gym you now chill out on the couch or the units in the boxing gym have been replaced by Yoga at home. Changes like these can actually cause hormone levels to fluctuate and menstrual cycles to shift.

A changed sleep pattern also has an effect on periods: Our sleep is virtually a reflection of the cycle. People who sleep irregularly and poorly tend to have irregular periods. Yes, you guessed it- this also has something to do with hormone balance: changes in sleep rhythm influence the body's own production of cortisol and melatonin, which ultimately affects the menstrual cycle. You can read more about the connection between your sleep and your cycle health here.

More severe PMS symptoms

You may experience more severe PMS symptoms during quarantine. You might feel the extents of the premenstrual syndrome during the four to fourteen days before your period when you experience physical and emotional symptoms. The mood swings and menstrual pain can be more severe than usual due to the current stress situation - and possibly with a four-week delay. So if you feel stressed today, you may not notice possible problems until the cycle after the next one. But don't worry: Menstruation will return to normal within a few cycles - especially when other routines begin to stabilize as well. If it doesn't, a check up with your gynaecologist is advisable.

Period Poverty & Taboos

As the slogan of this year's Menstrual Hygiene Day said: "Periods don't stop for pandemics". The problem is that many girls and women, especially in poorer countries, now face even more difficult challenges around their periods. For example, they have less access to information because schools and similar institutions are closed. The taboo in their own household is also often a problem. It is important that despite the crisis and difficult times, the fight for the end of the taboo continues, but also that the taboo is further clarified.

Covid-19 seems to be more dangerous for men than for women

Statistics show that the infection rate of men and women is about the same, but men are more likely to die from Covid-19 than women. Why is that?

It’s been reported that women and our immune system react more effectively to infectious agents (whether coronavirus or other viruses) and therefore have a faster immune response than men. There are various biological reasons for this.

One of them is the sex hormone estrogen, which tends to strengthen the immune response compared to testosterone. Another explanation is in our genes: the X chromosome contains genes that are important for a rapid immune response. Since we women have two X-chromosomes, our immune cells can fall back on both and thus react faster. The reason for this is probably that women have to protect possible unborn children.

Other possible reasons for the same infection rate but higher death rate among men can be found in different lifestyles: men on average live unhealthier lives. Smoking and poor nutrition are important factors here, as they often lead to corona-relevant pre-existing conditions.

How to keep your cycle under control

It is advisable to monitor your cycle in order to detect changes. This can be done easily with the help of cycle apps (e.g. Pearl Fertility). Here you can enter exactly when you have your period, measure and enter key fertility hormones and monitor their changes along your cycle. Furthermore you can see how your hormones react to possible stress and compare your hormone charts with the ones from your last cycles! Making it super easy for you to keep track of your cycle accurately.

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