The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up numerous aspects of females’ daily lives across the nation, including their monthly menstrual cycle. But what is a normal “period,” anyway? Normal menstruation is a period that happens every 21 to 35 days and typically lasts somewhere between 3-7 days. It is common for females to occasionally “skip” a period here and there, but missing more than three periods in a row is considered abnormal. This theme of continuously missing monthly cycles has become more familiar to females during this unprecedented time. But why?
Abnormal menstruation during the pandemic has typically been due to a change in stress levels or lifestyle factors. Any type of emotional, physical or mental stress on the body alters the female hormones that are needed for regular menstrual cycles. Even the slightest change in a women’s daily routine can modify these hormones enough to throw off the monthly rhythm! Here are some of the most common causes of missed periods during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Weight gain/weight loss: we’re talking even 5-10 pounds of weight fluctuation can be enough to alter the body’s natural production of estrogen and other hormones. The pandemic has had a significant effect on weight gain and is likely the biggest contributing factor to disruption of monthly cycles. Keeping a healthy, consistent weight can return periods to regularity.
Illness: physical and mental illnesses have also been a large contributor to irregular menstruation over the last year. During this time, the prevalence of anxiety and depression has significantly increased and had impacts on the overall health and well-being of many women – these conditions are proven to cause disruption to all parts of life, including menstruation.
Sleep: alterations in sleep routines can alter hormones as well! With many women staying up later or sleeping in longer, sleep schedules have also been proven to disrupt the monthly menstrual cycle of females. Making sure to set a dedicated sleep schedule that one can stick to will allow your hormones to stick to a schedule as well.
The factors listed above are just some of the drastic changes the COVID-19 pandemic has caused that have been proven to alter regular menstrual cycles. Other contributors include: new medications, exercise habits, travel and diet. Sticking to routines in daily life and being mindful of all of the changes going on can help females figure out the cause of their irregular menstruation. Staying in touch with our bodies allows us to know how to adjust and adapt during this time.