Life

Can lockdown affect your period? We asked an expert to explain

Posted by
Lauren Geall
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A pile of tampons

The coronavirus lockdown isn’t just taking its toll on our sleep, energy levels and decision making abilities – it might be affecting our periods, too.

Dealing with your period during normal times is, at the very least, an inconvenience. Dealing with your period in the middle of a global pandemic is, however, a whole other kettle of fish.

Forget the days when you rolled out of bed and headed to the shops to buy whatever you fancied (aka a lot of chocolate), in lockdown, the queues outside supermarkets makes the whole thing a little bit laboured.

Add to that the fact that sanitary products basically disappeared off the shelves at the beginning of the pandemic due to unnecessary panic buying and stockpiling, and it’s fair to say that having your period in lockdown isn’t ideal. 

But a lack of supplies (both sanitary and chocolate related) isn’t the only way that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown could be affecting our periods; the current situation could be to blame for any irregularity or changes to your period you might be experiencing. 

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Speaking to Stylist about how lockdown could impact our menstrual cycles, Dr May Gilbert, a GP at Pulse Light Clinic explained that the lifestyle changes and increased levels of stress which have been triggered by the lockdown could make a difference to our period.

“Since lockdown has started many people have seen a drastic change in the lifestyle,” she explains. “There has been changes in lifestyle, diets, and people may be facing more stress with the adjustment.”

According to Dr Gilbert, high levels of stress and anxiety can affect the area of our brain which regulates hormones, meaning our hormones become imbalanced. This then leads to our menstrual cycles being altered or delayed.

Tampons
High levels of stress and anxiety can disrupt the hormones which control our menstrual cycle.

“High-stress is often linked to altered menstrual cycles,” she adds. “This may manifest in different ways – some women might have their periods earlier while others might be seeing a delay.”

In this way, if you’ve experienced a delayed or irregular period over the last couple of weeks, chances are you might be dealing with heightened stress or anxiety levels as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, even though you might not have realised it.

To find out more about managing stress and anxiety during the pandemic, you can check out our guide here.

When should you see a doctor about irregular periods?

According to Dr Gilbert, it’s important to note that irregularities in the menstrual cycle are a common occurrence when we’re feeling stressed.

“Eating a balanced diet with nutrients and staying physically active are ways that can help control this during our menstrual cycle,” she adds. 

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However, there are a number of occasions where you might consider seeking medical advice about your irregular periods, just to ensure there’s not something else causing the irregularity.

According to the NHS, you should see a GP about your irregular periods if:

  • your periods suddenly become irregular and you’re under 45
  • you have periods more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days
  • your periods last longer than 7 days
  • there’s a big difference (at least 20 days) between your shortest and longest menstrual cycle
  • you have irregular periods and you’re struggling to get pregnant

It’s important to note that you may not be able to see your GP for a face-to-face consultation during the pandemic, but most surgeries are now doing telephone or online consultations. To find out more, please contact your local surgery.

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Images: Getty/Unsplash

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