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Morocco : Is the coronavirus lockdown disrupting women’s menstrual cycles ?

During the last three months, several women have been dealing with more painful and less regular periods. While some of them link the disruption to the stress and anxiety that came with the health crisis and lockdown, others believe that it could be underlying signs to other conditions.

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When the coronavirus health crisis first hit Morocco, Farida’s thoughts were all over the place. Confined with her husband and their three-year-old son in Casablanca, she was worried about making ends meet after she lost her part-time job and was uncertain about her husband’s.

Scared of catching the virus and anxious about her future and that of her family, Farida, 36, started noticing abnormal changes about her menstrual cycles. «During the first month of lockdown, I had a two-week delayed period», the mother told Yabiladi.

«At first, I thought I was pregnant but when I underwent a test, which turned out negative, I realized that there was something wrong with my cycle», Farida recalls. Two weeks later, the mother had her period, an intense one as she described it.

«While trying to think through all the problems I was going through, I had unusually intense PMS symptoms», said the mother, referring to severe cramps and heavy menstrual bleeding. But one week after the end of her period, Farida experienced bleeding again. «I couldn’t figure out whether that was because my period was delayed but all I felt is that it was probably stress-related given the hard times I was going through», she said.

Heavy periods while under lockdown

While irregular menstrual cycles can be early signals to several underlying conditions, other women like Farida have witnessed unwanted disruptions with their periods during the lockdown.

Nadia, 23, said that she had unusually irregular periods during the last three months, which included PMS symptoms she had never experienced before. Forced to work from home for more than two months, the young woman had «terrible mood swings, fatigue and intense cramps».

«While one of my periods was delayed, the other came way ahead of time», Nadia said, blaming that on the health crisis and the stress and anxiety that came with it.

While other women might have had less regular periods during the last three months, others suffered from worse and more painful ones. Majdouline, 38, said that her PMS symptoms were more painful than before during the lockdown. «It was weird to experience these symptoms while confined, it felt like I was suffocating in my own place and that made the lockdown quite unbearable», she said.

Hormonal changes

But can the current situation and the difficulties linked to the health crisis be linked to these disruptions ? According to gynecologist Abdelilah Lahlou, «any major occurrence or significant change in the life of a woman can lead to hormonal imbalances and that can in turn cause health disorders, including impacts on blood sugar regulation, thyroid issues and menstruation».

The lockdown could have been a change in many women’s lives, Dr Lahlou estimates. «The disruption of women’s menstrual cycle could be linked to the feelings that came with the current situation, such as fear, anxiety and tension», he added.  

However, the gynecologist believes that not every change to a women’s menstrual cycle can be automatically associated with the current health crisis. «I advise women to consult their OBGYN and undergo the necessary tests before assuming that their periods are changing due to psychological factors», he stressed.

Nevertheless, Casablanca-based gynecologist Wassim Senhaji begs to differ. According to the doctor, «the Covid-19 lockdown is not necessarly linked to irregular menstrual cycles». «With or without the lockdown, some women are easily triggered and stressed about situations», he explained, adding that «hormonal disruption could be triggered by psychological hardship and that is not linked to the Covid-19 lockdown».

«The changes that may arise during this time could be due to many other conditions and these women may be unknowingly associating them to the current health crisis», Dr. Senhaji concluded.

Regardless of the reasons behind your changing periods, it is always a good idea to consult a medical practitioner to rule out any eventual complications

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