The pandemic has increased stress levels for women. That stress can manifest itself as headaches, pain, interrupted sleep and even changes in your menstrual cycle. If you are also trying to conceive this stress makes it even more difficult to prioritise your wellbeing.
COVID-19 has impacted menstruation
According to a study recently published in the Journal of Women’s Health1 the impact of Covid-19 stress has impacted menstruation. The research showed that 54% of women found that their menstrual cycle had changed in some way.
The participants who experienced increased stress over the last two years were more likely to experience changes to their period. Professor Nicole Woitowich, Research Assistant said, “We know added stress can negatively impact our overall health and well-being, but for women and people who menstruate, stress can also disrupt normal menstrual cycle patterns and overall reproductive health.”
In addition, women are also reporting changes in their menstrual cycles following COVID-19 vaccination. New research backed by the National Institutes of Health, are examining possible connections between vaccination and irregular menstruation.
Understand Your Body & Cycle
Your body is strong, unique and beautiful. So, take time to understand just how your mental health and menstrual cycle work together, especially the impact of stress.
OvuSense are a group of products to help you understand your cycle patterns through taking your body temperature at regular intervals. This data is the uploaded to an app, which gives helpful insight into your cycle pattern.
The team at OvuSense strive to help all women learn about their bodies and what each unique cycle, ovulation, and pregnancy might look like.
Being able to track your cycles and identify any irregularities is powerful knowledge and helpful when you decide the time is right to start a family.
82% of OvuSense users feel less stressed and feel more in control of their fertility. Confirming when and that you are ovulating can provide a great sense of relief.
Tips to reduce stress from the experts
Stress is dangerous can take its toll on your body. It is important to reduce stress and below we are sharing some advice from experts on how to do that and look after your body at the same time.
Kate Davies, RN, BSc (Hons), FP Cert, Fertility Nurse
Research has shown how stress impacts our ability to conceive. I like to think of it as the mind-body effect. Psychological factors really do impact and are dependent on our stress levels, ability to cope with stress and even our positivity. I encourage my patients to consider how they deal with stress, what are their triggers for stress and help them to develop strategies for coping with and where possible, eliminating stress. Not easy when you are stressed because you can’t get pregnant! Stress and fertility are a huge area to discuss and, like the other lifestyle factors, a blog post for another day.
Kate’s Fertility Tip: If you are trying to conceive and feel that your mind-body effect is a little out of kilter then consider reflexology or yoga or start recording your fertility journey so you can be reminded of the positive days and see that, as well as bad days, there is hope too.
Colette Assor, Registered Acupuncturist
Reduce Stress. Struggling to become pregnant certainly creates a mixture of difficult and challenging emotions, including anxiety, fear and a poor mood. This is the result of being on a long-term, emotional rollercoaster. Despite this, managing stress and anxiety is an important factor to consider when trying to conceive. Whilst it is not conclusive that stress directly impacts fertility, high stress can impact hormonal balance, menstrual health, egg and sperm health, lifestyle and wellbeing.
Colette’s Fertility Tip: You may wish to try some natural ways to reduce stress levels, including beginning your day with meditation, taking a walk in nature and trying to cultivate gratitude by listing 10 things you are grateful for each day. Science also shows that gratitude helps to improve mood and overall well-being. Sharing your feelings with a friend, support group, or at one-to-one counselling may also be beneficial, as well as journaling your feelings.
Julia Young, Nutritionist
If your periods have been absent for three months or more it could be due to hypothalamic amenorrhea. Hypothalamic amenorrhea is when your periods stop for several months, due to a problem with the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a major control centre in your brain, which sends out signals telling your body systems what to do. One of its many important roles is to control ovulation and reproduction.
There are several causes of hypothalamic amenorrhea including, low body weight or low percentage body fat, following a very low-fat diet or under-fuelling, over-exercising as well as stress. If any of these are going on, the hypothalamus may sense it is not getting enough energy and will try to shut things down to conserve energy. Your reproductive system is one of the systems it will shut down, as it is not essential for survival, leading to absent periods, anovulation and subsequently impacting fertility.
Julia’s Fertility Tip: When we are continually stressed our body prioritises survival and can shut down ovulation. Take stock and assess your stress levels and put in place measures to reduce stress, such as deep breathing, practicing meditation or mindfulness, yoga, going for a walk, or simply chatting to friends and family. It is important that you find time for yourself every day, even if it is just for ten minutes.
Taking the time to try to reduce your stress levels can have a positive impact on not only your body but your ability to conceive. Reducing stress and making an investment to track your ovulation, with OvuSense sensors, is a way to take back control of your trying to conceive journey.
Starting a relationship with an OB-GYN that is right for you may also be a step to dramatically change your fertility journey, giving you an increased sense of hope. You might have to try out a few doctors before landing on the one you feel most comfortable with, but that’s okay, you have time!
Like OvuSense, your doctor is there to help you with any questions or concerns you might have. Having your questions answered, or being able to confirm when you are ovulating, may help alleviate any sense of uncertainty.
To get a 30% discount on the Ovusense range of products, please visit our shop.