How Burnout Can Trigger A Shorter Period

Oct 10, 2021

Dr. Ashley Margeson, ND

Dr. Ashley Margeson, ND



The first step that we need to take is to understand what your normal period looks like, this way we can tell if this is a change from your usual period. Before we jump to stress being a cause, we have to look at a few other symptoms. Are you approaching menopause? Are you perimenopausal? Are you on a hormonal birth control pill? Is your thyroid ok? Are you pregnant?

Once we’ve ruled out these options, we then look at functional factors such as nutritional intake, stress and sleep. Being in a state of burnout generally means that these cornerstones have gotten hit, which could lead to a decrease in your period flow.

What could a light period look like?
You bleed for fewer than two days
Your bleeding is very light, like spotting
You miss one or more regular-flow periods
You experience more frequent light periods than the typical 21- to 35-day cycle

How does burnout affect my period?

Our menstrual cycle is directed by the hormonal relationship between the brain’s pituitary gland and ovaries. More specifically, it comes down to the equilibrium of two major female sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Together, these two determine our period flow.

When you’re under a chronic state of stress, that uterine lining doesn’t get the same amount of progesterone hitting it in the second half of your cycle. This can cause your period flow to be much lighter, or you might even skip a period one month!

Sleep deprivation, a common byproduct of stress, can also shake our menstrual cycles up. The International Journal of Endocrinology states that lacking sleep messes with how our bodies express menstrual hormones, resulting in a disrupted cycle.

And while the usual day-to-day annoyances aren’t enough to throw your hormones out of whack, major life stressors—for example, grieving over a loss, suffering from depression or getting worried about things like a pandemic—can do just that. Another component of stress is overexercising, which can also wreak havoc on your period because of the stress it puts on your body physically.


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