Many women have experienced irregular or non-existent periods, an unpleasant trend that has increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic. We caught up with Naturopath, Meah Robertson, to learn more about this phenomenon, what’s causing it & what we can do to help bring our bodies back into balance.
A key factor that is causing our cycles to go out of whack is stress. Stress is an unavoidable part of life, however the stress we’ve experienced since the start of the pandemic is unlike anything we’ve known before. It impacts every area of our lives – mind, body & spirit. From financial stress to stress caused by isolation, fear & boredom, the impacts of this pandemic are significant & wide-ranging.
For women on a natural ovulatory cycle (i.e., women not on the pill), the feedback from our brain to our ovaries is very sensitive. Our brains communicate with our ovaries via signalling and stimulatory hormones. These hormones mature a follicle in the ovary readying it for ovulation, then pop that follicle like a bubble to release an egg. Then that popped bubble (the corpus luteum) goes on to produce progesterone prior to a period arriving.
Stress & Your Period
When our body is in “stress mode”, it sends all blood, energy, & nutrients to deal with that stress. This stress response lights a fire of inflammation in the body. Then, when our hormones try to communicate with our ovaries, they get blocked. Inflammation and stress should come and go, however when we are in a prolonged stressful situation, our body changes by adapting to that chronic stress & inflammation. Unfortunately, this means that our reproductive hormones get shunted way down on the body’s priority list. This can lead to an irregular ovulatory pattern, or anovulation (no ovulation) for extended periods of time.
Related: When Having A Period Is Hell
Women also release pheromones (hormones that we smell unconsciously) which let our tribe know when we’re ovulating & when a period has begun. These pheromones also enable women’s cycles to sync up – most women notice this at some point in their lifetime when they live with or work closely with other women. Interestingly, this has been impacted by the pandemic as constant mask wearing (restricting our sense of smell), as well as living & working in isolation, means we’re not exposed to these pheromones, which can contribute to our periods being out of whack.
What can we do?
Coming to terms with & adapting to the world we’re living in isn’t easy. Looking after your physical health means eating well, sleeping, moving our body through exercise/activity, drinking plenty of water, minimising exposure to chemicals & minimising stress.
To help bring your body back into balance, one of the most important things to do is to reduce stress – which we all know isn’t easy. Here are a few strategies that can help:
- Find things in your life that you can appreciate. You may wish to create a gratitude list
- Protect yourself from negativity. This may mean turning off the influx of news, from socials media, tv, apps, emails etc
- Practice self-love, and care whatever that means for you – maybe its reading, taking a bath, calling a loved one or putting on a face mask
- Don’t hold onto stress & negative emotions, let them be released so your body can be free from them
- Take a herbal supplement such as Fem21 (my own blend of 21 herbs that support your natural cycle) that can help to balance your hormones, naturally! NB: It’s always recommended that you consult a health practitioner first
We all have choices on what we do with our time and energy. We are in control of our thoughts and mind – something that’s important to remember when so much of our life feels out of control.
Come back to feeling empowered with the choices that you’re making each day and trust that this heightened stressful phase will pass. It’s a chapter of our lives, not the whole story.
Written by Meah Robertson, Naturopath & creator of Fem21, a herbal drink blend designed to help women regain control of their hormones.