EXCLUSIVE: Reasons of period irregularities during lockdown and how to cope with them
You might have noticed that your periods are irregular since the lockdown began. Here's all you need to know about it.
Monthly periods are a sign that all is right in a woman's system. Since the lockdown, a number of women have noticed that their cycle is irregular. Here are some of the causes.
1. Weight gain
Quarantine weight gain or lockdown weight is as real as COVID. As high as 40-50% of people have experienced weight gain during the Lockdown period. And this percentage seems to be higher in women. Research shows that an increase in body fat percentage impacts hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle. More importantly Rapid weight gain leads to long term hormonal abnormalities like PCOS that cause chronic menstrual irregularities.
How to deal: Losing even 5-10 % of the current weight can restore normalcy to your periods. Restricting calorie intake to 1800kcal.per day is one of the most effective ways to keep weight under control. There are many apps that help in counting the number of calories that you consume based on the food items you eat. Along with calorie check practising at least 4-5hours of Sweat inducing exercises per week helps in gaining results sooner.
2. Irregular sleep patterns
The subscriptions to most OTTs have almost doubled in the last year and so has the average screen time. Blue light from televisions, computer screens, phones and tablets might suppress melatonin levels that can not only delay the onset of sleep but the quality of it as well. Women who have irregular sleeping schedules or are used to working in a night schedule have a higher incidence of period delays or poor flow.
How to deal: Switch to listening to music or podcasts or audiobooks instead. Avoid using the phone for watching television for at least 30 minutes before you hit the bed. Even if you have to use the phone, reduce the brightness of the screen to a minimum. If you are working a night schedule, try to stick to the same routine even during weekends so that the body adapts to an alternative circadian rhythm.
3.Higher levels of stress
The psychological, financial and emotional toll of the pandemic has impacted every single person to varying degrees. Stress causes the rise of cortisol in your body that eventually impacts the hormones responsible for ovulation thus bringing in a wide variety of menstrual irregularities like delayed or shorter or painful or scanty periods.
How to cope: Brain chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin play an important part in uplifting your mood. Increasing protein intake, reducing saturated fat, consuming probiotics, exercising, meditation and indulging in games are some of the tested methods to improve Dopamine levels naturally. Restricting the duration of social media consumption has also shown to improve stress levels. So try to take a social media detox and avoid indulging in negative conversations.
4. Lack of medications and fear of visiting hospitals.
Women with pre-existing thyroid abnormalities are required to be on regular medication to avoid menstrual irregularities. The dosage of these medications has to be adjusted on and off based on the requirements. Fear of getting infected with COVID has led many women to stop receiving regular health checks with their health care providers resulting in menstrual irregularities.
How to cope: Be in regular touch with your gyne using a teleconsultation and try to use a home collection facility to perform any blood tests when necessary.
About the author: Inputs by Dr. Apoorva Pallam Reddy, obstetrician-gynaecologist Fertility Specialist, Laparoscopic Surgeon