Coronavirus Is Messing With Women’s Periods And Worsening PMS. Anything Else To Make Our Lives Difficult?
If my sex life wasn’t so dead, I would have worried myself sick each time my period got delayed. The pandemic has created situations that aren’t very conducive to mental peace; I have found myself in phases of anxiety intermittently. And any woman who has experienced an irregular period would vouch for stress’s potency when it keeps harmfully affecting our menstruation cycles. While we are dealing with that, researchers found that coronavirus has been affecting our period. Like what doesn’t?
Apparently, some people who had recovered from covid have been experiencing something called long covid, which is a prolonged state of symptoms of the disease. It goes on till way after you’ve tested negative and includes symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and headaches. Medical News Today wanted to examine this phenomenon further. One thing led to another and their researchers were asking women who had covid about whether it affected their menstrual cycles. It was a unanimous yes!
Covid and Period
Most of the people we spoke to told us that ever since they contracted COVID-19, they have been experiencing irregular periods, unusual clotting of their period blood, or worsened premenstrual syndrome (PMS),” MNT reported.
“Two weeks into my COVID-19 battle, I was supposed to get my period, and nothing came. I figured to myself, ‘I must be really sick. It will come next month.’ But nothing came the next month, either. Eight months later, and I’ve only had five periods,” Rose, a covid survivor told MNT.
Julie, a woman in her 40s had typical covid symptoms but hadn’t got a test done. Post that she believes she experienced long covid with symptoms lingering around. In fact, her menstrual cycle was messed up too. “In May, I skipped a whole month’s cycle of having a period. In June and then July, it returned, but [it was] very erratic, lasting a lot longer and stopping and starting,” she said.
Several women reported having unusually large clots and heavy flow. They also said that a week before their period they’d get like a relapse of their covid symptoms. “The first 3 months, I had big clots that were very alarming for me, and I had to take a photo, and I sent it to the [family doctor] who said [that] this is normal. I know for sure it isn’t normal [for me]. A week before my period I would relapse and [also become] more breathless,” Louise explained.
Edith too experienced unusual symptoms before her period, “I will experience extreme, debilitating fatigue, horrible muscle aches that completely lock my body down—and only when I get my period do I realize that that’s why my body felt that way.”
Women all over the world are experiencing alterations in the way they bleed. Some women are having irregular or missed periods, heavy flow, large clots, elevated PMS, or abnormally long periods. It is still unclear why this is happening. But we know there is a link between our hormones – estrogen and progesterone – with covid as these have been found to make the symptoms milder.
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Heightened PMS or Long Covid?
Edith said she feels PMS-y often. “I feel like I have PMS all the time. COVID has [also] made me more sensitive emotionally, and I am aware of emotional ups and downs that I’m having now that I didn’t have before.” Rose on the other hand experiences a plethora of health issues before her period. “[In] the days leading up to my period, my eczema would worsen, my breathing would start to get more difficult, my POTS [postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome] would act up, I would get a migraine with aura, my fingertips would have sharp pains, my joints would start hurting, and my right leg would start tingling,” she said.
However, could it be the reduced physical activity? Or the fact that you went through a lot of stress – both physically and mentally? “With regard to my period, my [gynecologist] just says it’s due to the stress that my body is going through due to this illness, while all other healthcare professionals do not care, since having periods is normal (they don’t put it into a context that I haven’t had periods for the past 10 years),” Jean told MNT.
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Covid could possibly affect female reproductive organs
The literature on covid is rather sparse as it is a new virus that the world didn’t see coming. We are still discovering new ways it affects our body and a lot of it is still dicey and unverified.
However, it is worth noting that a lot of symptoms get flared up depending on your mental health. “Stress itself is well-known to cause menstrual irregularities by disrupting the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (essentially the hormonal system that the brain uses to speak to the ovaries),” said Dr. Linda Fan, assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the section chief of Gynecology and the Director of Gynecologic Quality and Safety at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.
Dr. Fan also hypothesized that it may possibly affect female reproductive organs. “The published information on the effects of SARS-CoV-2 is fairly sparse. However, there is some biologic plausibility that the virus could attack ovarian function directly based on some of the effects of the virus on other organs,” she told MNT.
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Dr. Valinda Nwadike says that menstrual cycles will return to normal as covid symptoms get better and that this phase shouldn’t be so worrisome. “Some patients experience heavier cycles, and others have lighter volume. Comorbidities [coexisting conditions] affect the cycle volume as well. But what has been consistent is a return to normal cycles as their COVID symptoms improve. This is probably related to ovarian hormone suppression,” Dr. Valinda Nwadike explained.
It is important to talk to your OB-Gyn about your symptoms and be aware that your menstrual cycle may very well be affected if you had covid. Freaking out due to lack of knowledge will only worsen the symptoms.