Here’s How Your Your Nervous System - and Stress Levels - Affect Your Period
Posted on February 07 2020
Your period and your hormones go hand-in-hand. In fact, these hormones can even affect the state of your nervous system and how it handles stress. The nervous system regulates your hormones, digestion, brain function and countless other functions your body needs. Needless to say, this system is a big deal. So, how does your period work with the nervous system to keep your cycle regular?
Your period is regulated by a complex balance of different hormones present throughout the body and the brain. Each of these hormones impacts others throughout the body. This is why your stress levels can delay your cycle or induce it early - all of these hormones are interconnected. Most of these processes are regulated by a gland called the hypothalamus.
Responsible for starting the menstrual cycle, the hypothalamus controls involuntary functions like hunger, thirst, mood, sleep cycle and more. Keeping the body’s hormones balanced daily, this gland adjusts your internal functions to maintain your optimum state. The hypothalamus also controls the pituitary gland which stimulates other hormone-producing parts of the body such as the ovaries and the thyroid to prepare your body for your cycle.
During and leading up to menstruation, these two glands are working together to release the right amounts of each hormone. When you’re on your period, your nervous system is working overtime to keep everything in balance. If you’re overly stressed and your nerves are fried, your system may have a more difficult time keeping things running smoothly, which explains extremely painful period cramps and irregular periods.
With everything working in careful balance to stimulate ovulation and your cycle, it’s easy to throw it off when you aren’t managing stress properly. Since your hormones affect your flow and its regularity, you may notice that your flow gets heavier or lighter during these periods of time; you might need to adjust the size and absorption of your tampons and pads as well.
Since your nervous system regulates your hormones, it’s important to recognize its impact on your cycle, your flow and your PMS symptoms. To help your nervous system do its job, implement stress-relieving techniques like breathwork, meditation or yoga to help your nervous system move out of fight-or-flight, the state in which the stress hormone regulates most of your biological processes. Also, maintaining a diet filled with nutrients, good sleep hygiene and regular exercise all are vital to keeping your hormones in balance as well. Founder and President of MYBOXSHOP, Marissa Ribisi, says, “I found these work really well for my hormone levels and help keep my periods regular. Daily exercise, between 20 minutes to an hour, was huge for me.”
You may find that not only do these self-care remedies improve your mental health, but they also help your cycle run smoother and more regularly. When you understand the impact that your nervous system has on your hormones and their ability to regulate stress levels, you can start to see its impact on your cycle and take the steps you need to keep stress at bay!