The study surveyed more than 200 women and people who menstruate in the United States between July and August 2020 in order to better understand how stress during the COVID-19 pandemic influenced their menstrual cycles. More than half (54%) of the individuals in the study experienced changes in their menstrual cycle following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
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 study found.
The study, “Impact of Stress on Menstrual Cyclicity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Survey Study,” was published September 28 in the Journal of Women’s Health. It provides a better understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted women’s mental and reproductive health, the study authors 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,” 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.
Journal Reference: Impact of Stress on Menstrual Cyclicity During the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Survey Study. Journal of Women’s Health, 2021; DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2021.0158