Juggling the demands of work along with the obligations of life, raising kids amid rising prices, trying to get enough sleep without missing a workout—living with stress is the new norm for most women. The sad truth is that while many take measures to cope with their stress, it continues to be a growing health concern for women in the United States.

April is stress awareness month. Do you know how stress could be affecting your health? Here are four ways:

Stress Is Terrible for Your Heart

Did you know stress could be causing damage to your heart and arteries without your knowledge? When you’re anxious or agitated, your body releases hormones that increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. When that happens, your blood pressure goes through the roof. Chronic stress is known to increase the risk of the arterial disease atherosclerosis, in which fatty plaque builds up along the walls of the arteries. As well as decreased blood flow and oxygenation of the major organs, atherosclerosis can also lead to other cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack and stroke.

Stress Can Make You Miss Your Period

Have you ever thought you might be pregnant only to have your period start one or two weeks late? The most probable reason for your fickle flow is—you guessed it—stress!

Commonly known as secondary amenorrhea, this temporary menstrual stoppage can throw you for a loop. The relationship between menstruation and stress is not yet fully understood. Suffice it to say that too much stress is not good for maintaining a regular cycle.

Stress Messes with Your Libido

A lot of people enjoy sex because it helps them find release. But what happens when your stress starts getting in the way of your stress outlet?

According to a recent study from the Kinsey Institute, women’s libidos may be more sensitive to stress than men’s. That means that although his desire is unfazed by that looming deadline, your mind could be stuck on next month’s bills. Reducing your stress levels could be the spark that you need to rekindle that fire in the bedroom.

Stress Takes Away Emotional Control

Being irritable because you’re stressed out is no fun—for you or anyone unfortunate enough to be near you.

You might expect someone dealing with a major life crisis to have an outburst every once in a while, but according to a 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America, it doesn’t take much to make someone lose control. In fact, a little discomfort from immersing a hand in ice water can lead to difficulty regaining composure when put under stress. Having such a loose grasp on your emotions could put your friendships, your reputation, and even your job in jeopardy. Finding ways to cope with your stress will ensure that none of that happens.

Stress left unchecked can lead to serious mental and physical health consequences, such as heart disease, sleep abnormalities, emotional instability, and weight gain. But with the right coping mechanisms and healing treatments, you don’t have to worry. Acupuncture releases stress by opening up the meridians so that energy can flow more freely. If you need help managing your stress, give Dr. Litman and her team a call to set up an appointment. They will guide you toward the best remedy for your stress based on your situation.