By Phoenicia Schiwng
Periods. Pandemics. What do those two things have in common? They’re two things most of us would much rather not be dealing with right now. Maybe that might be a bit extreme…I suppose one is slightly more catastrophic than the other, but if you’re like me, it may not feel like it some days!
There are so many factors that go into your menstrual health and the regularity or severity of your periods. Stress, eating habits, exercise, and birth control are all known to affect your period. Just before this pandemic started, I moved halfway around the world, which led to all of those changes at once!
An international move is very stressful. Being in a completely different country brought significant changes to my eating habits. My lifestyle was different, therefore, so was my exercise routine. AND I changed birth control around the same time. My period freaked out (not really, but you know what I mean). It missed two months and returned with a vengeance when it did finally come. Eek!
Now that we’re several months into the pandemic, however, I am noticing things started to normalise pretty quickly. Usually, it would take my period a few months to recover from all that chaos and get back to its normal cycle. But I bounced back pretty quickly and have since had pretty mild periods.
I’m not sure if that has more to do with the change in birth control or the lifestyle changes due to the pandemic, but it got me thinking about if and how it has affected other ladies’ periods. This led me to poll a few of my friends. Interestingly enough, I got very differing results. One friend said that her periods became more regular and consistent, whereas another friend reported being bedridden for days due to hers.
When I asked my roommate about her periods, her answer was fairly similar to mine but opposite from what I expected. She raved about how “normal” and regulated her periods have become during this pandemic. Apparently, her menstrual cycle has been all over the place for years…like several months of missed periods, severe symptoms, either extremely heavy or extremely low flows. But over the past few months, she has noticed her periods regulating. She hasn’t missed one in months, and they have been mostly “on time” and consistent in flow.
“Why and how??” you might be wondering.
Several factors affect your period, and the pandemic actually positively affected these changes in her case. Due to quarantine, she ended up adopting a more relaxed and consistent lifestyle. She is single and has no children. As a college student, her social life and extra-curriculars slowed, so she was able to focus solely on distance learning and part-time work. Because she was staying at home, she started eating better, cooking more, and maintaining a more regular sleep schedule. She also started to get more active, having adopted a puppy towards the beginning of the pandemic. Unlike many of us battling the “quarantine fifteen,” she actually lost weight, which is a known factor in regulating periods.
I also asked my best friend about her experience, wondering if this pandemic affected her menstrual cycle as well. Turns out, it certainly did…but in a completely different way. Unfortunately, instead of helping to better regulate her period, quarantine gave my best friend stress periods. I used to be low-key jealous at her ease of a menstrual cycle. Hers was always very consistent, regular, and mild. During the pandemic, however, all of that turned upside down for her, as for many women around the world.
Between losing her job and being concerned for her at-risk mother, my friend was under immense stress and pressure due to the pandemic. Those factors led to a loss of routine, lack of sleep, less physical activity, and overall high anxiety due to her stressful and chaotic living situation. Unfortunately, these are all factors that can easily lead to changes in your period.
The pandemic has turned our world upside down in so many ways we would have never imagined. While most of those are negative and even frightening, is it possible that any good could have come from it? Did this terrible event positively influence my terrible monthly event? Did it positively or negatively affect yours?