Covid 19 has completely disrupted our lives. From distancing us from our family and friends, from keeping us away from our hobbies, the gym, traveling and partying. OMG how our lives have changed! But have you thought about how this awful pandemic is affecting us and our monthly periods – how can we try to protect ourselves?
Well, scientists and researchers are investigating the connection between female sex hormones and menstrual status and the protection women may have against the pandemic. It has been revealed in the first large case study of hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 that took place at Northwell Health in New York in April that males made up a majority of those with severe illness — 60% of all who were hospitalized — and had higher rates of mortality than females of the same age. In a preprint analysis of more than 400 female COVID-19 patients published in March, researchers in China found that “menstruation showed a definite protective effect” after consideration of other characteristics including age.
On the other hand, it is a known fact that stress effects our menstrual cycles. When we get stressed our bodys release the Cortisol hormone whose job is to prepare our body to take on a threat. This hormone gives our body an extra boost of energy in preparation to fight or flee. An increased level of Cortisol can affect our menstrual cycle. If the body is stressed out for an extended period of time – as it might be during this pandemic period – the HPA axis which is the complex system in our body that controls stress and stimulates the release of Cortisol can get overworked and tired. Once this happens different woman experience different responses; this can cause Amenorrhea (skipping or missing periods), spotty periods or the reduction of estrogen and progesterone.
More and more evidence has been pointing to the fact that higher levels of resilience (which is often defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties such as stress) are directly related to better outcomes when living through a crisis, managing chronic disease and chronic pain, and improving emotional and physical health. And, ok we don’t experience a pandemic of such immense magnitude everyday, but life is truly full of daily challenges – the better we learn to deal with them the more resilient we become to their effects.