Can Stress Cause Spotting? Caring For Yourself

Medically reviewed by Kayce Bragg, LPCS, LAC, LCPC, LPC, NCC
Updated September 20, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When you're experiencing stress and anxiety, you may not want to also worry about a late period or unexplained bleeding, sometimes called spotting. However, stress may significantly impact your period, whether by delaying menstruation, causing unexpected bleeding, or stopping your period altogether, as stress affects hormonal fluctuations. 

Changes in your menstrual cycle may indicate you are experiencing an underlying issue such as irregular periods or hormonal changes, so try to stay on top of any changes that occur when you notice spotting. Many women experience light bleeding or occasional spotting in various situations, but it's essential to consider reaching out to your medical professional for further insight if you're concerned about your flow.

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Spotting And Stress Can Compound One Another

Stress And Spotting

While finding blood in your underwear might feel alarming when you're not expecting it, spotting and breakthrough bleeding can be common. Anxiety and stress can cause a disruption in the menstrual cycle in various ways, including causing spotting and unexpected bleeding.

While it may be unclear exactly how and why anxiety can impact your cycle, the two may be related if you're experiencing spotting and irregular bleeding while under extreme stress. Reducing anxiety could get your cycle back on track.

How Anxiety And Stress Can Affect Your Cycle
Anxiety, a common cause of the flight response, may lead to more than light bleeding, particularly when combined with other stressors impacting a woman's well-being. If you're experiencing changes in your menstrual cycle, such as irregularities, or hormonal imbalances, consider seeking to rule out early pregnancy, uterine fibroids, or perimenopause.

Late Or Missed Periods

Stress might be a contributing factor if your period is late and you're not sure why, especially during the first few weeks of starting hormonal birth control. Hormones can have a negative impact on your cycle When you're under a lot of anxiety, leading to delayed periods or even causing you to skip your period entirely. This can also make your cycle longer or more irregular, sometimes resulting in one or more missed periods.

No Periods

While not experiencing any period can feel alarming, ceased periods, called amenorrhea, can be another side effect of anxiety. 

If you're not having your period at all or have missed the last several periods, check with your doctor to ensure that nothing serious is happening. Menopause or pre-menopause can also cause amenorrhea, a normal phase of life for many individuals. 

Heavier Bleeding

If you have your period and your cycle is regular, you may still experience side effects of anxiety during menstruation. These effects could include heavier bleeding, more intense cramping, fatigue, or soreness. Your period may also last longer.

Symptoms Of Anxiety

Anxiety is associated with various physical side effects other than its effect on the menstrual cycle. While everyone may experience anxiety differently, there are a few common symptoms to watch out for. 

If you're experiencing any of these other symptoms along with spotting or other changes in your menstrual cycle, you could be experiencing increased anxiety levels.

Excessive Worrying

You may feel like your mind is racing uncontrollably when you're experiencing excessive worrying. You might also experience intrusive thoughts, even when trying to focus on other things. 

If you feel unable to stop scared or worried thoughts, it may signify a mental health condition beyond minor stress. It could be beneficial to reach out to a mental health professional if you're experiencing challenges that are impacting your daily life or function. 

Fatigue And Lethargy

It could be a symptom of anxiety if you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning or struggle to make it through the day. Fatigue and lethargy may occur whether you feel temporarily stressed or experience this persistently. These symptoms, like anger, guilt, or hopelessness, may also compound others.

Feelings Of Hopelessness

Feelings of hopelessness may occur alongside stress, anxiety, or depression. You might feel like there's no point in trying anymore or that adverse events will happen no matter what you do. Feelings of hopelessness may have roots in real-world stressors like financial insecurity, political unrest, or personal and professional disappointments.

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Anger And Irritability

Suppose you're feeling angry and irritable and are unsure why. These feelings could be impacted by anxiety. This may cause you to lose your patience more quickly, become overwhelmed by minor disappointments, or lash out at the people around you. 

Stress may also cause you to direct unrelated anger onto people and things around you. If you don't usually experience anger, this might make you feel like your emotions or angry reactions are out of control.

Muscle Tension Or Soreness

Stress and anxiety/depression may often cause you to tense up your muscles, resulting in tension, soreness, or pain. If you're prone to clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, it may cause headaches throughout the day. 

Anxiety can also wear out your body, resulting in physical exhaustion at the end of the day, even if you haven't done anything strenuous.

Changes In Appetite

If you're eating more than you used to or having difficulty eating throughout the day, it could be a symptom of stress or anxiety/depression. This may cause your appetite to plummet, make you feel like you have a nervous or upset stomach, or make you crave food less. 

If you're in the throes of anxiety, you might try to comfort yourself with food or overeat. However, numerous factors can cause appetite issues, so speak with your doctor or mental health professional if you see significant changes.  

Changes In Sleep Patterns

Stress and anxiety/depression may impact your sleep. Some people struggle to fall asleep on time or have restlessness or insomnia. Other people may find it challenging to get up in the morning or sleep much longer than the recommended daily hours. This can also cause low-quality sleep that's frequently interrupted.

Other Reasons For Spotting

In addition to anxiety-induced spotting, spotting may happen for various reasons. If you're worried about spotting, seek the advice of a medical professional to ensure your health and wellness. 


Pregnancy can be a reason for spotting. After a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus, you may experience implantation bleeding, which can look and feel similar to spotting.

Excessive Exercise

Excessive exercise may disrupt your cycle, cause spotting, or stop your period entirely. When your body is under extensive physical stress, changes in your menstrual cycle may be one of the first signs. While exercise is beneficial, too much exercise could be problematic.

Weight Changes

It could affect your period if you've gained or lost a significant amount of weight recently. Significant weight gain or loss may alter your cycle, causing spotting, delayed menstruation, or absent periods. If you want to gain or lose weight, speak to your primary care physician about the healthiest way to do so. 

Other Health Issues

In addition to the causes listed above, your cycle may be disrupted by various other health issues which may impact your sex hormones, including changing birth control, problems with your thyroid, PCOS, and other health issues. 

Tampon usage can also potentially influence your perception of your cycle. Changes in your cycle may be one of the first signs that something is wrong, so listen to your body and ask for help from a medical professional if you need it.

Getting Support For Stress 

If you're experiencing stress-related spotting or other issues with your cycle, it could indicate an unhealthy amount of anxiety. Anxiety can be treated and managed in various ways. A professional therapist may help you manage this, develop coping strategies, and improve your mental health.

If the idea of driving to a therapy session and dealing with new paperwork and a new location makes you feel stressed, you might enjoy the idea of online counseling. Recent studies show that internet-based therapy, such as mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be particularly effective with mental health conditions related to anxiety and mood. This remote treatment model is associated with outcomes comparable to in-person therapeutic settings.

Spotting can feel uncomfortable mentally and physically. It may cause embarrassment, fear, or irritation. If you're experiencing this symptom, you may prefer to stay home until it subsides. Online therapy platforms such as BetterHelp offer a growing database of professionals specializing in various topics, and you can attend therapy from bed if you wish. 

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Spotting And Stress Can Compound One Another


Spotting while stressed or anxious can feel confusing and scary. If you're experiencing this symptom, consider consulting with a medical professional like a doctor to get insight into your symptoms. If you want to learn coping mechanisms to reduce the physical impacts of stress, consider reaching out to a counselor as well. 

Ease stress and mental exhaustion

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