We all know that COVID can affect your heart, your lungs and even your brain, but can it affect your menstrual cycle as well?
Coronavirus is considered to be less dangerous for women than it is for men. But at the same time, women have been shown to have a higher likelihood of long term coronavirus complications as well as mental illness. And it now seems that COVID could also have an impact on the menstrual cycle.
How can coronavirus affect your period?
Erratic menstrual cycles are one of the multiple complications associated with COVID-19. Many women who have been infected with coronavirus have reported suffering a number of irregularities with their 'monthly' including missed or late periods, increased pain, hormonal changes and even heavy bleeding.
One study that was recently published in Reproductive Biomedicine Onlineinvolving the monitoring of menstrual changes in 177 women showed that many who fell seriously or mildly ill with the virus also reported experiencing longer periods and decreased volume.
The study also showed that these changes are most likely temporary as follow up calls with the subjects found that menstrual changes had mostly subsided 1-2 months after recovery.
Why does Coronavirus affect our menstrual function?
While there are limited explanations behind this reaction, many doctors believe these consequences may be due to a coronavirus infection or the build-up of stress and anxiety which can have an effect on our hormonal functions.
Dr Tara Shirazian, Director of Global Women’s Health reasoned the study’s results were expected and that factors such as stress and infection can both affect a person’s period :
What we can say about COVID-19 and its effects on the menstrual cycle is comparable to what we can say about other viral infections and prolonged periods of stress — menstrual disruptions are likely to occur.
Shirazian then went on to explain that when someone comes down with an infection like coronavirus, the body and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are put under pressure. This can result in an increase of cortisol which can hinder the menstrual system. Additionally, she explained that during prolonged periods of stress the HPA axis can become suppressed, ‘which drives down the pituitary production of estrogen and progesterone.’
Place this bodily reaction to infection alongside the stresses of job loss, weight gain and sedentary lifestyles and it’s no surprise that your period might be a little later or lighter.
Changes to your menstrual cycle aren’t unique to coronavirus and any virus or levels of stress can cause changes to your period. However, if you’re concerned about any changes you may be experiencing then it’s wise to document them and consult a healthcare professional.