Can Stress Cause More Painful Periods? Unraveling The Connection


Period is a whole game of hormones happening every month in the life of a woman in her reproductive age. When the stress levels of the individuals are imbalanced. It may also imbalance several stress-related hormones in the body, eventually causing slight to severe changes in the menstrual cycle. In some cases, the periods can become more painful for the person. Bleeding levels can also be affected due to the change in the rate of contractions affected due to the stress levels. Apart from that, some women may even experience an absolute pause in their menstrual cycle due to the effects of these stress hormones. Irregular periods may also happen due to the same reason. In this article, we will let you know more about the relationship between stress and your period cycle. And some of the effective ways to cope with those issues. 

The relationship between the menstrual cycle and the stress levels 

Just like we have mentioned before, the relationship between these two is purely based on the hormones involved in both. Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Progesterone, and Estrogen are some of the hormones that are closely associated with the reproductive processes and menstrual cycle happening in an individual. Whereas Cortisol is another hormone that is secreted by the adrenal gland. This hormone is commonly known as the stress hormone and it is secreted usually when we come across any kind of stressful situation in life. Secretion of cortisol occasionally is common and it can do hardly any harm to the human body. 

Stress Cause More Painful Periods

However, This stress hormone stays in the body for more than a particular period of time. It may affect many of the physiological and psychological functions in the human body. During the times when women are threatened and forced to have intercourse. These stress hormones get released which inhibits the secretion of menstrual and reproductive hormones, preventing fertilization in a natural manner. However, when you are under chronic stress the same thing happens inhibiting and affecting your reproduction and menstrual cycle. 

The symptoms

You may easily notice some of the symptoms involved in such a condition and can easily suspect the underlying association between working out in your body your chronic stress and your menstrual cycle. When your stress levels are affecting your menstrual cycle, ovulation cycle, or even your whole reproductive system, it can be called Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea in medical terms. Some of the important symptoms associated with the same have been mentioned below. 

  1. Painful periods 

You will find it difficult to get through a period cycle since you may experience unbearable abdominal cramps, body aches, sore nipples and breasts, and so on. The presence of chronic stress in your body can further aggravate the condition by exhausting you both physically and mentally. 

  1. Extreme Premenstrual symptoms 

Premenstrual symptoms are quite normal and experienced by a majority of menstruating women across the globe. However, when your stress levels affect the menstrual cycle. These symptoms can become worse and make it difficult to get along with the daily chores and assignments with peace of mind. These may include sudden changes in weight, bloating, nausea, and so on. 

  1. Irregular periods 

Irregular periods can also be seen as a prominent symptom when you are experiencing functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. Sometimes, your period cycle can be longer than usual and sometimes, it can be shorter in duration. You may also skip one or two-period cycles or even experience a long pause for 6 or more months. 

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Now you know how your menstrual cycle and stress levels work hand in hand with the help of hormones to disrupt your cycles. If you notice these symptoms and are experiencing stress for a longer period of time. Then it is high time that you make deliberate and effective efforts towards getting your stress hormones back to normal. If you are not able to do this all alone, there is nothing wrong with taking the help of a dear or near one to cope with the stress-causing reasons in your life. Apart from that, you may even consider seeking the help of a professional therapist in order to recover from the situation. Getting adequate sleep every day may also help a lot. 


  • Barsom, S. H., Mansfield, P. K., Koch, P. B., Gierach, G., & West, S. G. (2004). Association between psychological stress and menstrual cycle characteristics in perimenopausal women. Women’s Health Issues14(6), 235-241.

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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