Researchers at Trinity College Dublin surveyed over 1,300 women in April 2021 and found that changes include a rise in anxiety, depression and sleep problems.
More than half of women experienced changes to their menstrual cycle in the first year and the majority have also suffered a reduced sex drive.
How are women affected?
Irish researchers, who quizzed 1,000 women, believe the stress of the pandemic is likely to blame.
They said they ‘unprecedented psychological burden’ caused by the Covid crisis increased anxiety and depression and reduced sleep quality, which has knock-on effects on reproductive health.
Health chiefs are currently investigating reports of tens of thousands of women in the UK suffering heavier periods than usual after getting a Covid jab. Some women have complained of earlier or later periods.
Period issues affect approximately one in ten women every year, but vaccines and viruses are known to disrupt the menstrual cycle, although experts insist they have no impact on fertility.
Disruption to the menstrual cycle
Some 56 per cent of participants said their menstrual cycle had changed since the beginning of the pandemic.
The average length of a cycle (28 to 30 days) and period (four to five days) stayed the same — but number of days between the women with the shortest and longest cycles grew significantly.
Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds said their premenstrual symptoms were worse, and 54 per cent said they had a reduced sex drive.
The changes were more prevalent among women who also reported mental distress and poor sleep.
And rates of severe anxiety, depression and poor sleep were more than double those from pre-pandemic levels among ‘women of reproductive age’.
Researchers said the findings indicate high stress levels and disruption to sleep can interfere with menstrual cycles, in line with other studies.
What is the factor behind this?
The effect of stress on the hormone system is well known, as well as affecting virtually every other of our functions both physical and mental.
Stress indirectly suppresses female bodily mechanisms by stopping sex hormones from being released, and the result of this that hormone balance is disturbed.
The central balance of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone are critical for a woman’s hormonal health relating not just to her menstrual cycle but her ability to deal with symptoms of perimenopause and Menopause.
This study was conducted at a relatively early stage of the Covid vaccination programme, and certainly I have seen a marked increase in symptoms in women that are being affected by stress as a key factor.
A separate study by Imperial College London is monitoring the menstrual cycles of 250 women before and after they got their Covid jab. But lead researcher Dr Victoria Male said the tiny number of participants means the study won’t pick up a potential link unless it is ‘really common’ — affecting more than one in ten women.
It is vital for women to be aware of their hormonal balance and how stress affects that, and Covid seems to be increasing that.
Anything you can do to help reduce stress will have an overall beneficial impact and a combined cream such as 20-1 can be more effective for anxiety and stress.
This article can help you identify where your stress areas might be affecting you the most.
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