Study finds association between stress level in early cycle, severity of symptoms

Women who report feeling stressed early in their monthly cycle were more likely than those who were less stressed to report more pronounced symptoms before and during menstruation, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. The association raises the possibility that feeling stressed in the weeks before menstruation could worsen the symptoms typically associated with premenstrual syndrome and menstruation.

Women who reported feeling stressed two weeks before the beginning of menstruation were two to four times more likely to report moderate to severe symptoms than were women who did not feel stressed.

Premenstrual syndrome is a group of physical and psychological symptoms occurring around the time of ovulation, which may extend into the early days of menstruation. Symptoms include feelings of anger, anxiety, mood swings, depression, fatigue, decreased concentration, breast swelling and tenderness, general aches, and abdominal bloating.

The study was conducted by researchers in the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the State University of New York, Buffalo. The study was published online in the Journal of Women's Health.

To read more on the study, click here.

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Premenstrual Syndrome can also be affected by bacterial vaginosis. So often women do not have symptoms that directly indicated BV, it is often overlooked when trying to deal with premenstrual issues. One of the big factors they have in common are the psycho-social stressors.
We tend to treat symptoms only and forget the mind body connections. Understanding the imbalances in the body and between the body and mind are important steps to creating a lasting solution to the problem.

I know the agony of Premenstrual Syndrome. This is a very useful information that stress could worsen the symptoms caused by this.
It makes sense also, since stress worsens so many other conditions, and is itself the cause of so many diseases.
Thanks for sharing this information, Sharon. It will help many women understand their bodies in a better way.

I've seen some similar studies and I can relate that when I'm stressed out my cycle can be a lot worse. Other than basic stress relief tactics are there any recognized ways to deal with this type of issue?

Thanks for this article. Stress has a lot of negative health consequences and worsening PMS is just one them. PMS feels bad enough, but add stress and anxiety to the mix and you can get women being really debilitated.

Yes, Menstrual cramps can be very debilitating for those who suffer from severe cramps early in their cycle. While your first inclination might be to lay on your couch in the fetus position moaning in pain, try yoga to relieve the pain.
Exercise during menstruation is generally highly recommended. It's believed that exercise can ease the discomfort of your period; quell mood swings, anxiety, and depression;, and reduce bloating.
Most contemporary yoga teachers advise a fairly conservative approach toward asana practice during menstruation. This makes perfect sense for women who feel sluggish during their cycle.
However, many other women don't feel the need to change anything about their practice during menstruation, except maybe to limit strenuous inverted poses. Each student should decide for herself what kind of asana sequence is most appropriate for her body during menstruation.

Sorry, just located another easy yoga ritual for your readers, for relief of menstrual cramps.
THE SEATED TWIST.
Sitting, twist to the right with an exhalation, hold for 30 seconds, then twist to the left for 30 seconds. Repeat three times to each side, each time holding for 30 seconds. Enjoy

Hello, I wonder if you could cite this source for this so that I may read it? My girlfriend has very high stress levels (she has cystic fibrosis that takes a toll on her mentally, too). I wonder if there is a link between her associated uterine problems and stress.

Stress is increasingly recognised as playing a role in both the aetiology and severity of a wide range of illness. It is no surprise given the amount of tension in the body associated with it; it is no hard to deduce it as a complicating factor. Practitioners of yoga and other approaches to real relaxation have the opportunity to experience bot the physical reality of tension associated with stress, and of its remission. Far greater study must be directed to this.

Most contemporary yoga teachers advise a fairly conservative approach toward asana practice during menstruation. This makes perfect sense for women who feel sluggish during their cycle.

nice post. in todays lifestyle we have to discover the way to relaxation.. and thanks for nice comment mind power school dude.. thanks

Now I know better. I just ignore the pain most of the time and to think that they can be better. I'll try to de-stress. Thanks for this.

Obviously, stress will aggravate just about any condition your might have, so it makes sense that it accentuates the symptoms of PMS.

Interesting article, but I would've like to have seen more detailed information about the study.

It's a bit short.

Interesting information! I really do believe that stress has a profound effect on us physically. This information makes sense, I have seen this with many of my patients.

Stress creates havoc in our bodies, I have no doubt it causes problems in women of all ages.

Did anyone have doubts about it? Stress is a quite dangerous thing in our society. Many people suffer from it and it is not a surprise to know about these effects you say.

Relieving stress is very hard in modern life.
Stress is such a problem.
Wonder if yoga, herbal stress relief such as valerian, hops, accupuncture will help !

Well this is very much in line with what experience at home watching my wife go through this. I study everything I can possibly can about negative emotions and learning more and more of all this have to do with chemistry in our bodies. Thanks for some good insights here.

Dear Sharon,

Thank you for the great info--this is an important part of managing PMS symptoms (i.e. reducing stress). As both a family doc and women's health coach, I use stress-reduction techniques when I am treating PMS and find them to be very useful. The effect of emotions and stress on body symptoms is very real and creating a daily relaxation practice is a big help for reducing both stress and pms. I recommend trying things like gentle yoga, relaxation breathing exercises such as 'the healing breath' from yoga, and eating a healthy diet rich in stress-busting nutrtients like Omega 3 fatty acids.

The healing breath is my favorite thing to teach patients:

Inhale through the NOSE and expand the belly for a count of 3. Then pause and hold the breath in for a count of up to 4 (do what you can--if you can't hold the breath don't worry!). Then exhale for a count of up to 7 (again, just do what you can here!) through the MOUTH. repeat 7 times!

Dear Sharon,

This is some important information!
We all know that nowadays stress is a huge problem for a lot of people.

As I am trying to help as many mothers as possible to help and get pregnant (again), I think it is important that they know that stress is something that is not good for pms nor for trying to conceive.

I hope that thanks to this article a lot of people are going to realise that they have to try to reduce their stress level.

Thanks a lot for your article!

Lieselot

Thank you for this. This is a very helpful article! I hope you write about bacterial vaginosis also.

Great article. Stress absolutely contributes to all kinds of health issues . Not only does it create problems with menstruation but it also wreaks havoc with a woman's pH balance which can lead to other problems like yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis.

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