Work-related stress, more commonly known as burnout, can negatively impact various aspects of your health. Your social and personal life goes for a toss and it can even affect your mental health. Experts also say that burnout can impact your period too.
The average menstrual cycle spans 28 days but can sometimes be longer or shorter and stretch to 21-40 days too. Irregularities and abnormalities in periods have become common and it could be linked to burnout, noted Dr Nitu Bajekal, senior gynaecologist said to Bustle.
"This usually makes periods infrequent," she noted, adding that, in some cases, they can stop altogether. Dr Bajekal also said that in rare cases it is possible that the prlonged nature of the cycle can occur more frequently, but a missed period due to stress is common.
How does this happen?
The menstrual cycle is regulated by a hormonal signals passed down from the brain to the ovaries, regulating the release of progesterone and oestrogen. "Stress, burnout, anxiety, and traumatic events can all upset the delicate hormonal balance in a woman's body, causing the brain to send signals to the ovaries to go to sleep," said Dr Bajekal.
The stress regulating hormone cortisol has the ability to control the reproductive hormones. Thus high levels of stress result abnormal levels of progesterone causing menstrual irregularities. For decades, studies have proven that work-related stress can affect your cycle.
Other than work-related stress, those who have disturbed sleep, eating disorders or poor dietary patterns can also be prone to period-regulated irregularities. Recently, WHO classified burnout as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ instead of a medical condition. This means that it is "resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed."
Symptoms to watch out for
Doctors and WHO has recommended that women should look out for these symptoms if they have been dealing with a great amount of stress to diagnose period irregularities.
- Feeling depleted of energy/exhausted.
- Increasingly resentful and cynical of the job and not able to concentrate.
- Reduced professional efficiency.
There several ways to remedy the situation if your period is being affected. “Manage stress levels by exercising and meditation as well as eating a healthy plant-based anti-inflammatory diet,” Dr Bajekal recommended.
Red School, a women’s well-being organisation discovered that “when a woman practises menstrual cycle awareness (MCA) as an ongoing process, she naturally reduces stress and can heal and prevent burnout."MCA helps women to understand their cycle and live in harmony with it, rather than let it create conflict.
If you feel that your period has been irregular for a long time and that the stress is not manageable, then it is best to seek a doctor’s help before the condition deteriorates further....