Understandably, stress may have been a little high over the last few weeks. If you’ve noticed a change to your menstrual cycle – longer cycle, more PMS, acne, etc., this is not too surprising because stress can have a direct impact on your reproductive hormones.
Stress & Your Cycle.
Our stress hormone, cortisol, is constantly talking to our brain (the hypothalamus and pituitary). High or chronic stress impacts how our brain releases other hormones, such as FSH and LH, which indirectly influences our hormone balance.
Stress can delay ovulation, or in some cases prevent ovulation completely. This can mean a longer cycle. It can also mean worsening of PMS, acne, cramping etc.
During times of high stress, we want to make sure our self-care and stress-coping strategies are a priority. Good quality sleep, nutritious food and regular exercise are essential baseline strategies to make sure our foundation is strong and resilient. However, sometimes we need a little extra support in times of high stress, and that’s ok.
Some of my go-to’s for hormone imbalance due to stress, include:
- Magnesium – a commonly deficient mineral that is wonderful at lowering cortisol and also has been shown to be effective at reducing PMS.
- B complex – B vitamins are essential cofactors that help your body make hormones. You often burn through your B vitamins quicker during times of stress, and therefore your B vitamins may need to be replenished.
- Vitex agnus castus – a powerful herb to support communication between the brain and ovaries. This herb is wonderful for supporting the luteal phase, and PMS.
- Ashwagandha – an ayurvedic herb that is excellent for supporting our stress response system; lowering cortisol and increasing resiliency.
It’s important to know that hormone imbalance looks different for everyone. And therefore, treatments will vary depending on what’s going on for you.
Dr. Ashley Damm, ND
Naturopathic Doctor- Vancouver BC