Winter Periods: How The Cold Can Affect Your Cycle - Women's Health

Winter Periods: How The Cold Can Affect Your Cycle

Did you know that the change in seasons can also affect your menstrual cycle

Image: Instagram/ @hotdotlena by @ladyist⁠.

With the colder months fastly approaching it is likely that your menstrual cycle will be affected. It is suggested that your periods last longer in the winter than they do over summer. A paper published in 2011 found that increased hormone secretion, increased the frequency of ovulation and shorter cycles by 0.9 days in the summer rather than during the winter.

After over a year of distancing ourselves from others, our immune systems are also weaker than normal, leaving our bodies open to attacks from colds etc. With the womb lining being a part of your immune system, the period experts at Lunette have taken a look into how the cold actually affects your periods and what you can do to help ease these effects when we already have to deal with illnesses and the cold weather. 

 

How the Cold Affects Your Periods

The minute the temperature begins to drop everyone’s mood tends to at the same time, your period altering is the last thing you want or expect. There are four main ways the winter months can affect your periods, which you should be prepared for. 

1. Hormonal imbalance:

With a lack of sunshine, the endocrine system and the thyroid might slow down. When the thyroid slows down it leads to a slower metabolism. This causes longer period cycles until your body adjusts to the drastic changes in temperature.

2. Pre-menstruation symptoms:

During the winter, we tend to lock our doors and spend the majority of our time indoors where it is warm and cosy. However, it can also make us feel lonely and isolated with limited interactions outside. The lack of exposure to sunlight can also encourage feelings of sadness. The limited sunshine and vitamin D leads to a lack of calcium which can be a triggering agent for PMS. Winter means we move less and eat more. This tends to have a bad effect on premenstrual symptoms as it makes your cycles less regular and not as manageable compared to summer where we spend hours outside and are more active.

3. Period pain:

When the weather begins to get cold, your blood vessels will compress, leaving a narrower pathway for blood flow. This means that blood flow during periods can get interrupted, leading to an increase in period pain in the winter.

4. Menstruation cycle:

The changes in the menstruation cycle have been accredited to atmospheric pressure, air temperature and sunlight when the weather changes during the cold. During the winter months, the secretion of the Follicle-stimulating hormone is less compared to summers and your menstruation cycles tend to be longer. The ovulation frequency also dips dramatically from 97% to 71%. A mixture of longer cycles and decreased ovulation can make periods during the winter exhaustive. 

How to Combat Symptoms

Everyone who menstruates has learnt how to help ease symptoms of periods, but when they can be unpredictable and more painful it can be a nightmare especially when we are coming to the end of the year and are exhausted. There are multiple ways you can help ease symptoms of winter periods:

  • – Using a hot water bottle or heating pad can help to make the vessels relax and therefore reduce pain caused by cramps. 

  • – You can take medication such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. Aspirin for period pain is not recommended as it makes the blood thinner and can affect the flow.

  • – Taking a warm bath or shower can help to relieve pain and help you to relax.

  • – Having a massage for about 20 minutes around your lower abdomen, side and back can also help. According to a 2018 study incorporating essential oils into this may have additional benefits. 

  • – Doing yoga can help you to relax and distract you from the pain.

  • – Exercise – despite the idea of exercising during your period sounding like the worst idea it allows you to get outside and have some sunlight and fresh air. Being active also helps reduce period pain.

  • – It is thought that endorphins released when you orgasm may help relieve menstrual pain. A menstrubation study done by Lunette X Womanizer showed that 90% of the participants would recommend masturbation to combat period pains to a friend.

  • – Avoiding foods that can cause bloating and water retention is a good idea during menstruation as it can help ease cramps and decrease tension.

  • – B6 and magnesium are also very good for period pain.

 

By Nikolina Ilic

Nikolina is the web-obsessed Digital Editor at Men's and Women's Health, responsible for all things social media and .com. A lover of boxing, she spends most of the time in the gym or with her husband and daughter. She was previously a Digital Editor at GQ and Vogue magazine.

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