Can stress delay your period?

stress can cause late period

Can stress delay your period? 

Let’s face it, stress sucks. And when you don’t have it under control, it can wreak havoc on every aspect of your life. But did you know stress can cause late periods, too? From delaying periods, making periods come early, or stopping your period altogether, being stressed out can make your monthly menstruation messy. 



What is stress?

Stress is a natural evolutionary psychological, and physical reaction to a change in someone’s environment. In our modern world, most people talk about chronic or negative forms of stress and anxiety, usually stemming from overworking, unhappiness in relationships or trying to keep up with life. 


While stress, in an evolutionary sense, can save our lives or be good for us (think about the way we would react if we came across a tiger while walking), chronic stress can seriously bring down a person’s short and long-term health, and affect your menstrual cycle, long term. 


Some stress is OK, but a late or delayed period due is your body telling you that the stress might be getting out of hand. 



How does stress affect our reproductive systems?

Activating a hormonal pathway in our bodies called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, stress also triggers the release of cortisol and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). When these hormones are released due to anxiety or stress, our normal levels of reproductive hormones are severely suppressed, which can, in turn, make your period come late.


Can stress delay your period? 

If you’ve been experiencing heavy work stress, relationship stress, or any other kind of stress, it’s common to experience an irregular period.

In any situation where you’ve been under high stress for a long time, your fight or flight response is triggered. In this mode, our hormones can become affected and create issues for ovulation. Being in fight or flight mode for too damn long? You might get late periods or skip several months of your cycle.


Can stress make your period come early? 

On the other side of the coin, stress can also make your period come early. This is thanks to a hormone you’ve probably heard of called cortisol, made in the hypothalamus. Stress can cause your hormones to kick into gear ahead of time, resulting in a period when you might not be ready for it. 



Can stress stop your period? 

Stress can have powerful effects on your period, but if you don’t bleed for over a month or 2, something peskier could be at play. The absence of a period, amenorrhea, could indicate a serious health condition like a hormonal imbalance, thyroid issues or even a tumour on your pituitary gland.

While the most serious of these health conditions are rare, if your period has stopped and you’re not pregnant, reach out for help as soon as possible.



How can I help reduce stress in my life? 

Reducing the stress in your life may be a way to get your period back on track. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, a great place to start could be incorporating exercise, getting enough sleep, meditating, and connecting with others. You could also schedule an appointment with a psychologist, who can assist with resources to manage stress in your life. 

Your monthly menstrual cycle is a great indicator of overall health. So if you’re experiencing delayed or irregular periods due to stress, schedule an appointment with a trusted health professional. 

Learn more about period health on our blog. 

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