COVID-19 related stress causes irregular menstrual cycles –Study

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Angela Onwuzoo

A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University, United States, has found that the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic causes irregular menstruation among women.

The study revealed that women experienced irregularities in their menstrual cycle because of the increased stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study surveyed more than 200 women and people who menstruate in the United States between July and August 2020 to better understand how stress during the COVID-19 pandemic influenced their menstrual cycles. 

The study is titled, ‘Impact of Stress on Menstrual Cyclicity During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ 

Researchers in the study published in ScienceDaily stated that more than half (54 per cent) of the individuals in the study experienced changes in their menstrual cycle following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

According to the researchers, Individuals who experienced higher levels of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic were more likely to experience heavier menstrual bleeding and a longer duration of their period, compared to individuals with moderate stress levels.

The researchers said the study provides a better understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted women’s mental and reproductive health.

“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,” said lead and corresponding author Nicole Woitowich, research assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Prior research has found that menstrual cycle irregularities are often reported by women who experience mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, or by those who are facing acute life stressors such as natural disasters, displacement, famine or defection.

“Given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and its significant impact on mental health, this data is unsurprising and confirms many anecdotal reports in the popular press and on social media. 

“Reproductive health should not be ignored in the context of COVID-19,” 

“We are already seeing the ripple effects of what happens when we fail to consider this important facet of women’s health as many are now experiencing menstrual cycle irregularities as a result of the COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 infection,” Woitowich said.

The researchers stated that since the onset of the pandemic, social media has been one of the major platforms where women and people who menstruate could share questions or concerns about their menstrual cycles.

“Only recently have these concerns been addressed by the biomedical research community,” the researchers said.

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