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Stress induced amenorrhea

Before speaking about stress induced amenorrhea, we should understand what is stress. Stress is body response to any kind of positive and/or negative events and/or demands and/or attack. Stress is a very special feeling to particular events – it is special body preparation to meet a challenge with focus and increased strength.

Anything which provokes stress called “stressor” – physical danger, exams, humiliation, lost of loved ones, job or family crisis, etc. Different persons have different sensibilities and stressors could vary and be positive and/or negative.

Stressed women bodies react by releasing very specific chemicals into the blood – these chemicals can increase body energy and strength which would be needed in case of physical threat. But if stress was provoked by emotional stressor, increased body energy could create health problems.

Women health is a complicated one but during stress the women health becoming more complicated because of hormonal changes and hormonal dysfunctions.

In general amenorrhea affects 2% -6% of women in reproductive age but more often amenorrhea has been discovered in women with high physical and/or emotional stress such as Olympic winners, war participants and/or witnesses, young ballet dancers and/or gymnasts.

What is stress induced amenorrhea

Stress induced amenorrhea

It should be mentioned that women reproductive system always reacts during physical and especially emotional stress. Stress induced amenorrhea is amenorrhea which was triggered by increased physical or psychological stress. Actually women can stop having menstrual periods immediately after stress.

As puberty itself is already a stress for young body, during puberty stress induced amenorrhea could be more often as puberty girls are very sensitive to any stressful factors (especially emotional stress).

It was noted that some female soldiers deployed in Iraq had amenorrhea due to a combination of extreme heat and extreme stress.

Many women are very sensitive to the death of loved once or to loosing loved once and these situations can often trigger the stress induced amenorrhea.

First symptom of stress induced amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual periods during following 6 months or more. Later some other symptoms could be developed such as mood swings, weight gain, decreased libido, feeling tired and/or sick, reduced ability to concentrate and/or think, etc.

How stress can trigger amenorrhea

Stress induced amenorrhea is a result of complex hormonal changes and/or dysfunctions.

Women bodies respond to stress by activating the nervous system and specific hormones through hypothalamus. Usually the hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to produce increased levels of hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid that acts on multiple body systems and reduces Luteinizing Hormone (LH), estradiol and progesterone effects. During stress the hypothalamus could block the release of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) causing decreased levels of estrogens, progesterone and causing also anovulation and temporary amenorrhea.

It is important to highlight that intense mental/emotional stress can disrupt the normal rhythmic process in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and as a consequence the pituitary gland decreases production of hormones that it usually sends to the ovaries to promote ovulation and insure regular menstrual cycles. So women suffering from deep emotional stress can easily have stress induced amenorrhea.

Increased concentrations of adrenaline and cortisol in the blood usually speed up heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and metabolism. As a result the blood vessels open wider to let more blood flow to large muscle groups, preparing all our muscles for reaction and defense. At the same time the increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol release the stored glucose from the liver which increases body energy. Many women sweat during the stress which is the body reaction for cooling body’s increased temperature. All mentioned changes are just body preparations and reaction for handling the stress attack.

It was noted that menstrual periods and ovulation can return to normal after stress levels decrease. Women should know that any kind of stress can decrease fertility, pregnancy rates and increase miscarriage rates.

Stress induced amenorrhea – prevention

Best prevention of stressed induced amenorrhea is healthy lifestyle including healthy food, active life, normal weight management and balanced emotional behavior. Strong healthy body can fight stress easier and better.

In many cases stress is not expected and cannot be prevented and women body should be prepared:

Food consumption
Eat healthy balanced food 3-4 times a day – check your daily nutritional needs.
Physical activities
Avoid very intensive sport activities, exercise moderately regularly, maintain your ideal body weight (based on BMI).

Emotional status
Avoid conflicts in personal life, in the family, in the school, in the office. Follow conflict resolution advices.

Avoid extra work time, balance your work, never forget about holidays and relaxation periods.

Bad habits
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and drug use.

Solutions for stress induced amenorrhea

It is already known that stress induced amenorrhea could turn to normal regular periods itself if you can manage your stress and/or if stress factor disappears or decreases.

What can help you to manage your stress situation and resume regular menstrual cycles:

  • Analyze your stress factor and accept what you cannot change;
  • Help yourself in stress situation and accept crying;
  • Don’t afraid to ask for help if needed;
  • Create positive environment around you and contact only people you like, people you trust and only happy people;
  • “Spoil” yourself with pleasant things you like (shopping, travel, dancing, etc.);
  • Don’t let anything and/or anyone domination (person, work, addictions);
  • Be confident and don’t afraid take decisions;
  • Spend some time helping friends, relatives or colleagues;
  • Don’t forget regular physical activities and pleasant hobbies;
  • Use only healthy food and healthy drinks;
  • Be strong and recognize your weaknesses as nobody is perfect;
  • Discover pleasure and usefulness of relaxation and meditation;
  • Analyze your life and identify all factors which could trigger the stress;
  • If your life is very busy, try to identify priorities and schedule accordingly;
  • Share your problems with someone you trust (speak and push it out);
  • Avoid anything which can distract you (drugs, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, medications);
  • Keep regular normal sleep (better without any medication);
  • Plan some funny activities you like.

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