Pandemic stress affected women’s ovulation, study finds

Disclosure

The stress of the pandemic has affected ovulation, even imperceptibly for women, reveals a study from the University of British Columbia, Canada, presented at the latest annual meeting of the American Society of Endocrinology. According to the authors, this is the first evidence of ovulatory disorders without changes in cycle length associated with the stress caused by the health emergency.

To reach the conclusion, the scientists compared data from two similar surveys, carried out thirteen years apart: one conducted between 2006 and 2008 among 301 women and another which evaluated 112 volunteers during the pandemic. Both followed patients of similar profiles, aged 19 to 35, who were not taking any hormonal contraceptives.

In addition to collecting data on hormone levels and basal temperature, they also completed questionnaires on general health, lifestyle and a menstrual cycle diary.

Although they felt no change in bleeding, two-thirds of those assessed in the pandemic were not ovulating normally – compared to just 10% in the first study. Without the woman realizing it, there has been a change in the progesterone level which has resulted in cycles without egg release or a shorter phase after ovulation, which disrupts the pregnancy. These patients also had higher levels of anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and headaches.

“Although these are preliminary data, they are very relevant because we know that stress can affect ovulation,” observes gynecologist Sérgio Podgaec, of the Israelita Albert Einstein Hospital. So much so that it also occurs in other situations where the body is exhausted, including excessive physical activity in high performance athletes, for example.

All this may explain the difficulties in getting pregnant among those who tried and failed in recent months. The good news is that these changes are reversible if there is no longer a serious malfunction behind the problem.

Grayson Saunders

"Typical thinker. Unapologetic alcoholaholic. Internet fanatic. Pop culture advocate. Tv junkie."

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