Pandemic Stress Affected Women’s Ovulation

Stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has affected women’s ovulation, researchers found. The “experiment of nature” apparently showed how stressors can affect women’s fertility.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly caused major disruptions in many people’s lives. It has also led to many people experiencing quite a lot of stress, and women are certainly not exempt from this.

For their study, presented Sunday at ENDO 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia, the researchers aimed to see if there would be a difference in the “cycle lengths and ovulation” of two groups of menstruating women aged 19 to 35 years who not giving birth. control pills.

The groups were 13 years apart, the Endocrine Society noted in a news release. The first one, Menstruation Ovulation Study (MOS), was conducted from 2006 to 2008 on a group of 301 women, while MOS2 studied 112 women during the pandemic, from 2020 to 2021. MOS was considered the control group to compare with the experiences of the women in MOS2.

“We speculated ahead of time that women in MOS2 would have more ovulatory disorders during the pandemic,” the researchers wrote.

Indeed, they found that only 37% of women in MOS2 ovulate normally, compared to 90% of women in MOS. The remaining 63% in MOS2 have “silent ovulatory disorders” (SOD), which were much higher than the 10% in MOS.

The women who do not ovulate normally either had short-luteal phases or when the ovum was released, but did not have enough time for pregnancy to actually happen, or the egg was not released at all, one of the authors of the study, Jerilynn C. Prior, MD, FRCPC of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, explains in The Endocrine Society news release.

“Regular menstrual cycles do not always mean that ovulation (egg release) has taken place; stress can disrupt ovulation,” the researchers wrote.

And when the researchers analyzed the participants’ menstrual cycle diaries, they found that those in MOS2 “had significantly increased anxiety / depression / frustration (negative moods) and ‘outside stress’ plus sleep problems and headaches” compared to those in MOS.

“This is the first evidence that ovulatory disorders without changes in cycle length can be associated with the multidimensional stress that women experience during the pandemic,” the researchers wrote.

In other words, the “epidemic” of ovulatory disorders experienced by MOS2 may, according to the researchers, be related to their pandemic stress. SOD may also explain why many women who do not use hormonal forms of birth control experienced altered periods after COVID-19 vaccination, Prior said in the news release.

“This ‘experiment of nature’ suggests that multiple, everyday life stressors may alter women’s fertility despite the fact that the length of the menstrual cycle does not change,” the researchers wrote.

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