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Stress, Cortisol, and Cycle Disruption: Navigating the Impact on Women's Menstrual Health

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

The Impact of Prolonged Elevated Cortisol on Your Menstrual Cycle & What You Can Do To Mitigate It

There has been a dramatic rise in menstrual cycle irregularities, missing periods, fertility issues and worsening of PMS symptoms that I believe are strongly related to our levels of daily stress.

The thing with stress, is that whether it is a real threat (e.g. a lion chasing after you) or perceived threat (e.g. being late for work, your partner having an argument with you, finding out bad news), your body has the same response and will release cortisol (your main stress hormone).

This article will explore the physiological effects of stress, particularly the role of cortisol on women’s menstrual health. I will break down how chronic stress can disrupt the delicate interplay of hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods, heightened PMS symptoms and fertility challenges.

However, I am also here to share the good news and dramatic impacts that EFT Tapping can have for reducing cortisol and thus supporting our menstrual health.

The Stress-Hormone Connection

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It plays a vital role in the body's "fight or flight" response by increasing alertness, energy, and blood sugar levels to prepare for immediate challenges (very important things!)

Cortisol is not all bad though and we actually require it for adequately responding to stress, regulating our metabolism, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, modulating our immune response as well as our circadian rhythm (sleep/ wake cycle).

However, in our fast paced, busy lives, we are often faced with chronic stress and overproduction of cortisol which can lead to:

  • Reduced digestive functioning

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Suppressed thyroid function

  • Delayed ovulation and poor sex hormone production

  • Fertility struggles

  • Raised blood sugar

  • Impaired immunity

Cortisol’s Effect On Menstrual Health

So sure, we need cortisol to live and ultimately survive but when it is elevated for a prolonged period of time, what happens to our menstrual cycles?

Elevated cortisol levels can interfere with the intricate symphony of hormones that regulate ovulation, causing irregular or absent periods. It can also amplify the severity of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, leading to heightened mood swings, bloating, and pain.

Chronically elevated cortisol places the body in a perpetual state of high alert, shifting our priorities from reproductive functions, to immediate survival. This can impact the menstrual cycle by:

  • Negatively affecting the secretion of luteinising hormone (LH), which plays a central role in ovulation. This can delay or inhibit ovulation meaning lengthy periods or no periods at all.

  • Suppressing the production of estrogen and progesterone, also essential for a regular menstrual cycle

  • Amplifying PMS due to inadequate hormone production including heightened mood swings and a ride on the emotional rollercoaster (don't we love that!)

  • Cortisol can increase inflammation exacerbating PMS symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness and painful periods

"Chronically elevated cortisol places the body in a perpetual state of high alert, shifting our priorities from reproductive functions, to immediate survival"


I know this is a huge topic and an incredibly emotionally sensitive one too. For women wanting to conceive, the relationship between cortisol and menstrual health becomes even more significant.

Irregular or absent ovulation due to elevated cortisol levels can lead to fertility challenges. Cortisol-induced hormonal imbalances can make it difficult to predict ovulation accurately, which is crucial for timing fertility.

Moreover, cortisol's impact on the uterine environment can affect the implantation process. A stress-induced inflammatory environment in the uterus may hinder successful implantation, adding another layer of complexity for women navigating fertility.


I know the above sounds dire, and to be completely honest, it is. We are living in a world where we fail to prioritise rest, joy, time outdoors, sunshine, high quality food and deep nervous system support.

However this doesn’t mean we are a slave to the environment. Making small changes to reduce stress in your life, cultivate more joy and process the emotional rollercoaster THAT IS LIFE, supports a healthy nervous system and therefor menstrual cycle.

  • Engage in activities that make you happy e.g. cooking, dancing, hiking

  • Say no to activities that don’t bring you joy

  • Exercise in line with your menstrual cycle (add in cycle syncing)

  • Get adequate sleep

  • Eat balanced, wholefood based meals, regularly

  • Stay hydrated

  • Limit your screen time before bed

  • Drink 1 instead of 12 coffees a day (...dramatic, I know)

  • Partake in daily EFT Tapping or work with a practitioner for deep, nervous system support

Empowered by stress management techniques and self-care practices, women can reclaim control over their well-being and navigate the ebb and flow of their menstrual health with grace and resilience.

The Benefits of Clinical EFT Tapping

Clinical EFT Tapping is backed by numerous research studies to support its impact on reducing stress and cortisol levels in the body.

It is one of my favourite tools to use with stressed, emotionally overwhelmed clients and I would love to support you!


Book Your First EFT Tapping Session Here or join our monthly, GROUP EFT Sessions!

To find out if it can support you, read more here or email me at

Big love to you and your nervous system,

Sarina X


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