Stress-induced menstrual issues?
February 24, 2007 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Can a combination of stress and intense physical activity cause problems with my menstrual cycle even though I am on the pill?

I am 28 years old and have been on the pill for over 8 years now. In that time, I have never had any problems with breakthrough bleeding during my active pills.

This past weekend, I took a pretty intense exercise class (more intense than my usual routine...). I also found out that my father had been rushed to the hospital with chest pains. He did have a heart attack, and is recovering well. However, it was a very traumatic experience for our family.

On Tuesday, I started experiencing some spotting, which then turned into what looks like a full period. I'm a week and a half into my current pack of pills. I'm also seeing small clots, which I've NEVER noticed with any period in the past.

I spoke to a nurse and have an appointment with my gynecologist in 2 weeks. The nurse told me to watch for extremely large clots, dizziness, or fainting. I've not had any of those symptoms, but I'm still really freaked out by all of this.

Has anyone else every experienced anything like this? How worried should I be?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes. Happens to me on occasion. Don't be worried unless you develop other symptoms.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:00 AM on February 24, 2007

Stress affects my period a lot. Less now that I'm on the pill, but it still noticable sometimes.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:05 AM on February 24, 2007

I have clots frequently - if they're not big, it shouldn't be a big concern. If I were you I'd keep your doctor appointment, but try to relax about it. It sounds like you have enough to worry about!

Feel better soon!
posted by christinetheslp at 8:07 AM on February 24, 2007

Not to take focus off your question, but what did the nurse say large clots, dizziness, and fainting mean? I've been having those symptoms during my period lately.
posted by chichimimizu at 8:34 AM on February 24, 2007

Chichi-if you have been fainting and passing large clots during your period, you should see a doctor. That just doesn't sound good.
Anon- If you exercise at one class vigorously, you should not see a difference in your period. It is much more likely that your cycle has been disturbed by stress. Good luck with your father, and try to find ways to de-stress yourself.
posted by nursegracer at 9:56 AM on February 24, 2007

I had a uterine fibroid a few years back and one of its symptoms was passing large clots; I also would feel really dizzy because I was losing so much blood. Not to say that this is what is happening to you but definitely get it checked out.

I've been on the NuvaRing for about two years now and there have been a few times where I was so stressed out about something that my period was a few days late (and usually it is like clockwork). Stress does funny things to your body and I wouldn't be surprised if it is messing with your cycle/breakthrough bleeding.
posted by sutel at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2007

I always thought the big clots were normal, just part of the uterine lining breaking up and getting flushed out. I have endometriosis, but I'd never heard of that being one of the symptoms. So everyone doesn't get the big clumps?
posted by Koko at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2007

I used to when I had heavy periods... before I went on the pill (to prevent my PCOS from, well, growing cysts on my ovaries) I had horribly heavy periods and huge clots. I would think that clots can certainly be normal, especially if you don't move for a while and then get up... it clots and then comes out when you stand up.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:19 PM on February 24, 2007

yes, stress can absolutely unravel your cycle, even if you are on the pill. one of the big reasons is that if you are stressed, you are eating and metabolizing differently. you may have digestive issues. that means you're not absorbing the hormones in your pill as you normally do. so your hormone levels are fluctuating. if you missed a pill (or passed it before it was fully absorbed) your hormone levels may have gotten enough out of whack to start a period off-cycle. it happens.

see the doctor for reassurance, but try not to worry.

by the way, i don't think the extra exercise is the culprit unless you are dangerously underweight.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:26 PM on February 24, 2007

Yes. Been there half a dozen times in three years on various hormonal methods. And the kicker is that if I have menstrual irregularities caused by stress they immediately double how hard I'm stressing over'd think my body would have figured that out by now but so far, not so much.

Good luck. Best wishes to your dad.
posted by crinklebat at 12:42 AM on February 25, 2007

Just 2 weeks ago! Because of very difficult work hassel, I decided to really ramp up my excercise routine from 1 or 2 step classes a week to 5 just to de-stress. A day later my period started a week early and was slightly "clotty". I am very, very regular and was quite surprised but I believe this combo can affect you the way it has.
posted by Wilder at 3:36 AM on February 25, 2007

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