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How does stress affect a woman’s health? Depression and anxiety. . Women have higher rates of these conditions and other psychological disorders including panic... Heart problems. . Stress increases blood pressure and heart rate. Headaches and migraines. . Tension headaches are more common in women ...
Some of the health effects of stress are the same for men and women. For example, stress can cause trouble sleeping and weaker immune systems. But there are other ways that stress affects women. Headaches and migraines. When you are stressed, your muscles tense up. Long-term tension can lead to headache, migraine, and general body aches and pains.
- Reduced Sex Drive. Major life events that cause stress, like starting a new job or moving to a new city, may lower libido, according to Dr. Irwin Goldstein, M.D.
- Irregular Periods. Acute and chronic stress can fundamentally alter the body's hormone balance, which can lead to missed, late or irregular periods. Researchers have also found that women in stressful jobs are at a 50 percent higher risk for short cycle length (less than 24 days) than women who do not work in high-stress positions.
- Acne Breakouts. Raised levels of cortisol in the body can cause excess oil production that contributes to the development of acne breakouts. A 2003 study observed that female college students experienced more breakouts during exam periods due to increased stress.
- Hair Loss. Significant emotional or psychological stress can cause a physiological imbalance which contributes to hair loss. Stress can disrupt the life cycle of the hair, causing it to go into its falling-out stage.
Chronic stress can make alterations to the hormone balance in a women's body. That can result in late, irregular, or missed periods. Women that work in a high-stress job are also known to have shorter period lengths of less than 24 days. Another effect of chronic stress is acne breakouts.
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- Signs and symptoms
Your central nervous system (CNS) is in charge of your fight or flight response. In your brain, the hypothalamus gets the ball rolling, telling your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rev up your heartbeat and send blood rushing to the areas that need it most in an emergency, such as your muscles, heart, and other important organs. Under stress, your heart also pumps faster. Stress hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict and divert more oxygen to your muscles so youll have more strength to take action. But this also raises your blood pressure. As a result, frequent or chronic stress will make your heart work too hard for too long. When your blood pressure rises, so do your risks for having a stroke or heart attack. Under stress, your liver produces extra blood sugar (glucose) to give you a boost of energy. If youre under chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge. Chronic stress may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The rush of hormones, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate can also upset your digestive system. Youre more likely to have heartburn or acid reflux thanks to an increase in stomach acid. Stress doesnt cause ulcers (a bacterium called H. pylori often does), but it can increase your risk for them and cause existing ulcers to act up. Your muscles tense up to protect themselves from injury when youre stressed. They tend to release again once you relax, but if youre constantly under stress, your muscles may not get the chance to relax. Tight muscles cause headaches, back and shoulder pain, and body aches. Over time, this can set off an unhealthy cycle as you stop exercising and turn to pain medication for relief. Stress is exhausting for both the body and mind. Its not unusual to lose your desire when youre under constant stress. While short-term stress may cause men to produce more of the male hormone testosterone, this effect doesnt last.
When the perceived fear is gone, the hypothalamus should tell all systems to go back to normal. If the CNS fails to return to normal, or if the stressor doesnt go away, the response will continue.
Chronic stress is also a factor in behaviors such as overeating or not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal.
Stress hormones affect your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. During the stress response, you breathe faster in an effort to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood to your body. If you already have a breathing problem like asthma or emphysema, stress can make it even harder to breathe.
Stress can also affect the way food moves through your body, leading to diarrhea or constipation. You might also experience nausea, vomiting, or a stomachache.
If stress continues for a long time, a mans testosterone levels can begin to drop. This can interfere with sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may also increase risk of infection for male reproductive organs like the prostate and testes.
For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle. It can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods. Chronic stress can also magnify the physical symptoms of menopause.