Posted 3 years ago

Is stress effecting your menstrual cycle?

Are you experiencing frequent cycles or perhaps you have lost your cycle completely (Amenorrhea)? If so, then go speak to your doctor if you haven’t already. ⁣

Over the years of working with hundreds of women, I have noticed trends. Specifically, I have observed that the relationship between stress and the menstrual cycle is a delicate one: if stress is high, then cycles can become irregular, frequent or in some cases, cease.

On the one hand, this could be partially due to the physical- and dietary-induced stress imposed on the body through the process of extreme dieting for a show or shoot. Loss of the cycle can be quite common in these instances, as the body sees reproduction as unnecessary for its survival. Luckily, it can be easily regained in time with the addition of body fat, which should see hormonal balance restored. However, in some cases it might take a female several months, not just weeks, to regain their cycle.

On the other hand, the loss of cycle or regular cycles could be caused by mental or emotional stress. As the body cannot distinguish between mental and emotional stress, it responds the same way: it deems the body “unfit” (i.e. too stressed) for reproduction, and the cycle goes. High levels of catecholamines such as adrenaline in the blood can be one of the main culprits of this.

As such – if this is you – one thing you must look to do is to reduce overall stress on the body. Ask yourself the following: “What systems do I have in place for managing stress?”. It is highly likely that you will have none, or that the systems you have are actually not helpful.

Implementing stress-management techniques – both physical and emotional – has been one of the most successful tools I’ve used with clients to help them regulate their cycle.

Often, what I’ve seen is that women use exercise as a stress-management technique, not realising that exercise is a physical stressor. As such, although it may seem counter-intuitive, reducing exercise and output is another tool that I regularly use to help female clients regain their cycle.

Some simple strategies that I implement with clients to help them manage emotional stress include (but are not limited to): meditation, yoga, keeping a gratitude diary, journaling, guided breathing and warm baths. In the past five years, these have shown to drastically improve the regularity of the cycles in women I have worked with.

In summary, a loss in menstrual cycle can be very common in the bodybuilding world, as most females spend a prolonged portion of the year in a dieting phase, exercise regularly and extremely vigorously, and also balance a career and a social life on top of their bodybuilding aspirations.

However, if this is you, you needn’t worry. As you reverse diet and regain some body fat, actively reducing stress on the body should be your number one priority. In conjunction with the extra food, in time, your cycle should return.

If you are frustrated and haven’t seen your cycle restored as of yet, reach out to me on Instagram to arrange a consultation.

If you listen to the following podcast I recorded with Dr Carrie Jones you’ll get a basic understanding of how your hormones change over the month in relation to your cycle:

Thinking of stepping on stage next year? Download your free bikini girl rotation today:

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons