Did you know it’s possible for the changing seasons to impact your menstrual cycle?
Yep—you know that colder weather can have an effect on your mood and overall health, but there’s actually evidence to suggest why you may notice a change in your period during the winter season.
So how exactly can winter affect your cycle and what can be done to combat some of the pesky symptoms? Let’s take a look—and remember, if you do notice any of the following symptoms, discuss them with your OB/GYN in Logan, Utah.
A research study published in 2011 found that menstrual cycles are 0.9 days shorter during summer than winter—the reason being increased hormone secretion and increased frequency of ovulation during warmer months and time in the sun.
Weakened Immune Systems
For some, winter causes immune systems to be weaker than normal. This obviously makes us more susceptible to colds and viruses. The lining of the uterus is also part of the immune system, and those changes can play into your periods.
Lack of sunshine during the winter season can play a significant role in menstrual cycles. This can cause the thyroid and endocrine system to slow down, which may contribute to a slower metabolism and longer periods, too.
Less follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is secreted during winter compared to summer, which can contribute to longer cycles. Ovulation frequency can also dip significantly. The combination of decreased ovulation and longer cycles during winter may largely be due to hormonal imbalance triggered during winter.
Premenstrual symptoms may also be worse during winter. Typically, less time is spent outdoors during colder months. Decreased sunshine and vitamin D can affect your overall mood and the levels of calcium in your body—which plays a part in triggering PMS.
People also tend to be less active and eat more during winter, which can impact PMS symptoms.
You may also notice your periods are more painful during winter. The culprit is likely that your blood vessels compress when it’s cold, which can interfere with blood flow and contribute to an increase in period pain.
How To Fight Winter Period Symptoms
You’ve likely learned what works for you when it comes to easing period symptoms and know that some of the discomforts may simply be unavoidable. But there can be ways to prevent or combat some of the unpredictable and more painful symptoms you notice during the winter season.
A heating pad or warm bath can help the blood vessels, and in turn, reduce pain experienced during your period. And even though it’s more challenging during cold months, staying active can make a significant difference. A little sunlight and fresh air can go a long way.
Also, avoiding foods that cause bloating can help with cramps. Eat a variety of healthy foods, particularly those rich in B6 and magnesium, and drink plenty of water.
In every season of life, Cache Valley Women’s Center is here to help with any women’s health symptoms or concerns you may be experiencing.