Can Stress Cause Spotting? Anxiety And Your Cycle

Updated December 14, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Debra Halseth, LCSW

When you're already experiencing stress and anxiety, the last thing you want to worry about is a late period or unexplained spotting. But anxiety can have a significant impact on your period, whether delaying menstruation, causing unexpected bleeding, or even stopping your period altogether. Changes in your menstrual cycle are one of the first indicators that you might be experiencing an underlying issue, so it's important to stay on top of any changes that may occur.

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Stress And Spotting

While it might be alarming to find blood in your underwear when you're not expecting it, spotting and breakthrough bleeding is pretty common. Spotting can happen for a variety of reasons, from serious illnesses to minor changes in your life. Stress and anxiety have been shown to disrupt the menstrual cycle in various ways, including spotting and unexpected bleeding.

While it's still unclear exactly how and why stress and anxiety can impact your cycle if you're experiencing spotting and irregular bleeding while under extreme stress, there's a good chance that the two are related, the good news is that reducing stress and anxiety can get your cycle back on track!

Other Ways Anxiety Can Affect Your Cycle

Anxiety can wreak even more havoc than spotting, especially in combination with other stresses on the body. If you're experiencing changes in your menstrual cycle due to stress, it's always a good idea to get a second opinion from a medical professional.

Late Or Missed Periods

If your period is late and you're not sure why stress might have something to do with it. When you're under a lot of stress and anxiety, you can have a delayed period or even skip your period entirely. Stress can also make your cycle longer or more irregular, often due to one or more missed periods.

No Periods

While not experiencing any period can be alarming, ceased periods, also called amenorrhea, can be another side effect of stress and anxiety. If you're not having your period at all or have missed the last several periods, it is important to check with a doctor to make sure that nothing more serious is going on.

Heavier Bleeding

Even if you have your period and your cycle is regular, you may still experience side effects of stress and anxiety during menstruation. You may experience heavier bleeding and more intense pain, fatigue, and soreness. Your period may also last longer.

Other Symptoms Of Anxiety

Anxiety has many other physical side effects other than its effect on the menstrual cycle. While everyone experiences anxiety differently, there are a few common symptoms to watch out for. Suppose you're experiencing any of these symptoms along with spotting or other changes in your menstrual cycle. In that case, it's a good indication that you could be undergoing increased stress and anxiety levels.

Excessive Worrying

Excessive worrying is one of the most common signs of stress and anxiety. You may feel like your mind is racing, and you're unable to control your thoughts. You might also experience intrusive thoughts about particular worries or stressors, even when you're trying to focus on other things. If you're not able to stop thinking about things that are worrying you, it may signify that something more serious is going on besides minor stress. Always reach out to a professional if you're experiencing challenges with your mental health that are impacting your daily life,

Fatigue And Lethargy

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If you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and struggle to make it through the day, it could be a symptom of stress and anxiety. Fatigue and lethargy are very common symptoms, whether you're temporarily stressed out or experience persistent anxiety. Fatigue and lethargy can also compound other symptoms, like anger, guilt, and hopelessness.

Feelings Of Hopelessness

Feelings of hopelessness are common symptoms of stress and anxiety. You might feel like there's no point in trying anymore, or like bad things will happen no matter what you do. Feelings of hopelessness can often root in real-world stressors like financial insecurity, political unrest, and personal and professional disappointments. You may feel as if nothing you do matters and as if you're powerless to effect any real change upon the world.

Anger And Irritability

Suppose you're feeling angry and irritable even when you're not sure why; it could be a symptom of stress and anxiety. Stress can cause you to lose your patience more quickly, become overwhelmed even by small things, and snap or lash out at the people around you. Stress can also cause you to superimpose anger at other things onto the people and things around you. Even if you're not usually an angry person, stress can make you feel like your emotions and angry reactions are out of control.

Muscle Tension And Soreness

Stress and anxiety often cause you to tense up your muscles, resulting in tension, soreness, and pain. If you're prone to clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth under stress, it can cause headaches throughout the day. Stress and 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. Stress can cause your appetite to plummet, make you feel like you have a nervous or upset stomach, and make you crave food less. If you're in the throes of stress and anxiety, it's also common to try to comfort yourself with food and overeat if you notice that your appetite has changed recently and you're not sure why it could be because of stress.

Changes In Sleep Patterns

Stress and anxiety can also have a significant impact on sleep. Some people struggle to fall asleep on time or sleep and can struggle with restlessness and even insomnia. Other people find it difficult to get up in the morning and sleep for much longer than the recommended number of hours per day. Stress can also cause low-quality sleep that's frequently interrupted.

Feelings Of Guilt

If you're experiencing stress and anxiety, you may experience persistent feelings of guilt, even when you've done nothing wrong. This guilty feeling can significantly affect your quality of life and result in intrusive thoughts even when you're trying to focus on other things.

Other Reasons For Spotting

In addition to stress and anxiety, spotting can happen for a variety of reasons. If you're worried about spotting, it's always a good idea to seek the help of a medical professional to make sure there's not something more serious going on.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is another common reason for spotting. After an egg is implanted in the uterus, you may experience implantation bleeding, which looks and feels similar to the spot. If you think you might be pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test and seek help right away to decide on the best option for you.

Excessive Exercise

Excessive exercise can disrupt your cycle, cause spotting, or even stop your period entirely. When your body is under too much stress from exercise, changes in your menstrual cycle can be one of the first signs that something is off. While exercise is, in general, beneficial, you should avoid taxing your body to the point where there are serious health side effects.

Weight Changes

If you've gained or lost a significant amount of weight recently, it could affect your period. Significant weight gain or loss can alter your cycle, causing spotting, delayed, or even absent periods. Whether you're trying to gain or lose weight, make sure to do so gradually and use healthy methods.

Other Health Issues

In addition to the causes listed above, your cycle can be disrupted by various other health issues, including changing birth control, problems with your thyroid, PCOS, and other health issues. Changes in your cycle can be one of the first signs that something is wrong, so it's important to listen to your body and ask for help if you need it.

When To Seek Help

If you're experiencing spotting or other issues with your cycle, it could be a sign of an unhealthy amount of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety can have plenty of negative side effects and can significantly impact your quality of life. The good news is that stress and anxiety are very common and can be treated and managed in various ways.

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Professional therapists can help you manage your anxiety, develop coping strategies, and improve your mental health. With BetterHelp's diverse selection of online therapy services, you can reap the benefits of therapy from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

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