Can Stress Cause Secondary Amenorrhea?
What is Secondary Amenorrhea (SA)?
“Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation. Secondary amenorrhea occurs when you’ve had at least one menstrual period and you stop menstruating for three months or longer.”
How is Stress related to the loss of menstruation?
The most common cause for the absence of menstrual cycles is irregular hormones. When stress is present in the body whether it be physical or mental, the body reacts by releasing several stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline (aka epinephrine). Overeating, under eating, smoking, extensive exercise, not exercising, overdrinking are all examples of stresses that can negatively impact the body. When the body releases stress hormones for a short time it is actually good for the body because it improves concentration, strength and reaction time. On the other hand, if the body does not return to normal and constantly is releasing stress hormones for the long haul, then these increased stress hormones pose a threat to the body and its systems causing issues such as PCOS and secondary amenorrhea.
How can I lower my stress in order to get my period back?
Well first off, there are many reasons why you may not be getting your period back, but if you think that it may be caused by stress, then your best bet is to decrease stress! Here are a few tips for improving stress…
· If you are exercising every day and not giving your body the rest it needs, then I suggest maybe adding in 2 or 3 rest days. I know the thought of adding in this rest is disturbing and cringe-worthy, but its for your health, and if you want your period you need to let your body know that it is okay and it can rest! Once the body reaches a comfortable state and doesn’t feel like its fighting to survive, then it will most always start back up the reproductive organs, therefore leading to a menstrual cycle. YAY!
· If you are not exercising I suggest at least adding in 3 workouts a week or even walking for 30 minutes a few days out of the week. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol and releases endorphins (chemicals in the brain) that will make you feel happier and often times will combat pain!
· Try to reduce smoking and drinking to a minimum.
· Make changes to your diet if you know you are under eating or overeating. When overeating your organs work harder, secreting extra hormones, resulting in raised hormones, stress and the shutting down of the reproductive organs. If you are under eating over a long period of time, your body will start to think it is always starving and it will try to shut down organs in order to preserve energy. Unfortunately, if your body chooses to shut down the reproductive organs while in a starving state then that will result in secondary amenorrhea.
Long story short, if you give your body the rest, exercise and nutrients that it needs then the stress will reduce and your cycle should come back! Now let me remind you that this is what worked for me and many others and it may not work for everyone, especially if stress if not the direct cause for your secondary amenorrhea. Reducing stress is also only one of the many steps that I took to get my period back. Hopefully this got you thinking of how you can reduce your stress though, and I look forward to sharing more with you on PCOS and Secondary Amenorrhea!