The research was conducted to identify if females have an experience of change in the menstrual cycle throughout the COVID19 pandemic during the lockdown period. The study aimed to identify the main contributing factors to changes in the menstrual cycle. A questionnaire was completed by 749 females who were considered ”physically active”.
The questions were related to details about their age, activity level, marital status, menstrual cycle, nutritional status, exercise, and stress comprising 33 questions and were developed by researchers. The study highlights not only the importance of stress in relation to maintaining a consistent menstrual cycle but also provides important details for clinicians when managing patients with irregularities of the menstrual cycle. 52.6% of females in the study had changes in the menstrual cycle during the lockdown.
The dysregulation of menstrual cycles during COVID19 was psychosocial. Many participants reported changes in mood, irritability, emotions, distraction, lack of concentration, motivation, and focus. Participants who reported stress and worry in regards to job security, family, and personal health had increased chances of bleeding time. Psychological stress is associated with alterations in the menstrual cycle, duration, and severity of the symptoms. Women with stressful jobs during COVID19 were twice as likely to develop a decreased cycle length due to decreased follicular phase length and little variation in the length of the luteal phase.
The study was conducted on elite and sub-elite – athletes and non-elite athletes. 44% of elite female athletes complained about bloating which resulted from an increase in the effects of stress and anxiety of the gut. Many women in the study also experienced a reduction in sex drive, focus, and motivation along with an increase in constipation, feeling emotional and back pain. Due to lockdown across the globe, participants reported a decrease in nutritional intake and reduction in an exercise regime. This concludes long-term stress during the COVID-19 pandemic has a significant impact on the reproductive health and fertility of a woman.
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