The effects of stress are not only emotionally but also physically. When it comes to the effects on the female body and mind – irregular period, decreased chance of conception (problem of fertility), acne, weight gain, and depression are some common issues. Though some statistics show that women are more likely to have stress, but most experts believe that the chance of having this emotional problem is pretty equivalent in women and men.
In fact, changes of hormone are more common in women than in men. For instance, while women have menstrual cycles, experience the phase of pregnancy, and menopause – men don’t have that (except menopause)! This may be one of the reasons for why women are at greater chance of having stress than men – though again this issue is still debatable!
In females, the beginning phase of menstrual period can be a sign of the puberty’s onset. Typically, it occurs between 10 to 16 years of age. Ideally, the length of each menstrual period is 28 days on average. But in fact most women can have their monthly period longer or shorter than 28 days – this kind of menstrual cycle is familiar called as irregular periods.
Most cases of irregular periods are perfectly normal. But sometime they may also point to certain health conditions. Overall, the disparity of menstrual cycle can be attributed to a lot of factors, one of them is stress. See also some possible causes of missed period on this section!
The mechanism of menstrual cycle in women is controlled and regulated by a complex balance of many hormones.
Likewise, stress also can affect this balance. The reaction of the body to this emotional problem can involve a lot of changes of many hormones. As a result, the balance of hormone is disturbed which then may affect a woman’s menstrual period.
During stressful period, you tend to have late period. Stress also can affect many other mechanisms and processes in your body, these can be a great combination to affect the cycle of your menstruation! Even it may also increase your chance of having a painful menstruation.
Several decades ago, the opinion that stress can affect fertility or the chance of getting pregnant in women was medically often considered only a myth! But today, some scientific evidences have found that the link of both conditions is undeniable!
According to study conducted by the Oxford University and the National Institutes of Health, women are less likely to conceive during stressful period. This study found that alpha-amylase (a kind of enzyme related with stress) has a significant role in affecting the chance of becoming pregnant.
The production of alpha-amylase increases along with the increased production of stress-related hormones! This enzyme can be secreted by the body when the nervous system releases special substance called ‘catecholamines’ to respond stress.
There is early scientific evidence that this mechanism can affect the blood blow which then eventually may slow the causeway of fertilized egg to go to the place for implantation (uterus). As a result, the fertilized egg doesn’t have adequate time to implant properly on the wall of uterus which then may affect the chance of getting pregnancy!
While stress can decrease your chance of getting pregnant, it also can increase your risk of having some pregnancy complications. For in-depth information about this issue, visit this section!
Stress is often found together in many health conditions. It may occur before or after having a chronic disease. But overall, again it is not only a kind of emotional problem – it can also affect you physically.
Physical symptoms such as headache, fast breathing, excessive sweating, stomach problems (like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting), tight shoulder problem, stiff neck, increased heartbeat, and even back pain can occur due to stress!
The following are other possible effects /complications of uncontrolled & chronic stress to the body:
- In long term, it can be potential to decrease the ability of your body immune system. As a result, you will become easier to fall sick.
- Constant tension from this emotional problem increases your risk of having shoulder, low back, and neck pain.
- It also can worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- It increases your risk of having problems related with heart, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (a condition of hardening arteries), blood clots, arrhythmia /abnormal condition of heartbeats, heart attack, heart failure, and coronary artery disease.
- It also can worsen the symptoms of IBS /irritable bowel syndrome, duodenal & stomach ulcer, and GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease).
- Changes of appetite also can be triggered by stress. This then can cause weight loss or weight gain. See also the link between stress and weight gain!
- Problems of skin, such psoriasis and acne. Read also the link between stress and acne!
- It can make the symptoms of lungs problems (particularly such as COPD / chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) get worse!
These can include:
- Having excessive fear of small things.
- Difficulty concentrating – you may find yourself difficult to get your concentration on tasks.
- Feel tired /jumpy all the time.
- Cannot cope with small problems. You may also feel cranky!
- You tend to get frustrated or lose your temper frequently (more often).
- Thoughts of bad things may occur more often.
- You cannot act quickly to respond certain task or situation. As a result, you may frequently feel or notice that you are missing out on things.
Uncontrolled stress in long term also can increase the risk of developing anxiety and depression. In fact, stress and depression are often found together in women.
Furthermore, the way of this emotional problem in affecting your mind is also dependent on: (a) your own personality, (b) the way of how you think to cope with the problem, (c) your experience about responding to your stress, (d), the social support that you have, and (e) your own coping strategies!