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Being Stressed Can Make Period Pains Worse, Study Suggests

Research suggests that experiencing stress in the weeks before your period can make your time of the month more painful.

Around 80 per cent of women experience period pain at some stage in their lifetime and every single one of those know how painful that week can be.

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Most women experience some discomfort during menstruation, especially on the first day. But for 5 to 10 per cent of women, the pain is severe enough to disrupt their life.

However, it looks like keeping calm and removing stress could mean you are less likely to have a painful period.

Researchers have discovered that stress can make your period pain worse. (Credit: Pexels)
Researchers have discovered that stress can make your period pain worse. (Credit: Pexels)

A study published in the Journal of Women's Health in 2010 found that stress could lead to worse PMS symptoms.

It found that women who reported feeling stressed two weeks before the start of their period were two to four times more likely to report moderate to severe symptoms.

Whereas women who did not report feeling stressed were less likely to suffer from severe symptoms.

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Women who reported feeling stressed two weeks before their period were more likely to report moderate to severe symptoms. (Credit: Pixabay)
Women who reported feeling stressed two weeks before their period were more likely to report moderate to severe symptoms. (Credit: Pixabay)

Not that we need to tell you what the symptoms of a period are, but the researchers included feelings of anger, anxiety, mood swings, depression, fatigue, decreased concentration, breast swelling and tenderness, general aches, and abdominal bloating as the main symptoms.

The researchers were unable to conclude why stress may affect the pain levels.

However, they had a few thoughts including that stress may alter ovarian hormones or that the stress hormone cortisol may have a direct impact on PMS.

Exactly 259 women aged 18 to 44 who did not have any long-term health conditions and who were not using oral contraceptives or taking any other hormonal formulations were given a questionnaire for the study.

259 women were questioned. (Credit: Pexels)
259 women were questioned. (Credit: Pexels)

Each woman was provided with an at-home fertility monitor to follow the phases of her monthly cycle and the women completed questionnaires about their stress levels for each of the four weeks of their cycle.

The women also answered questions about their symptoms in the week coinciding with ovulation, and the following week during menstruation.

Study author Mary Hediger, Ph.D said: "Each woman is an individual, and some women may experience severe symptoms that require medications.

Stress reduction techniques could reduce the pain from your period. (Credit: Pixabay)
Stress reduction techniques could reduce the pain from your period. (Credit: Pixabay)

"However, future studies may show that stress reduction techniques can prevent or reduce the severity of premenstrual syndrome, which might provide a cost effective alternative to medications for some women."

However, it hasn't always been a secret that stress can make your periods more painful.

Obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Antonio Pizarro told Stuff magazine that elevated stress levels can affect the pituitary gland in a similar way.

He said: "High levels of stress, especially in severe cases, can affect the pituitary gland and potentially affect the period."

Featured Image Credit: Pexels

Topics: You, Life News, Health

Bethany Gleave

Bethany Gleave is a Freelance Journalist at PRETTY52 and joined the team in 2018. She is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, and started her career at a national press agency, writing breaking and trending news for the national newspapers.

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