I'm a doctor and here's how WINTER can affect your period – and 4 ways to combat it

WINTER is well and truly here, and it’s nowhere near time to ditch your woolly jumpers.

But it turns out you may have more than chilly fingers and toes to worry about when temperatures drop.

If you feel as though your menstrual cycle is more severe in the winter months, you’re not alone – many people are likely to experience heightened symptoms.

Most women get their period every 28 days, but it can differ.

Everyone’s cycle and symptoms can be different, so while some people will experience light bleeding, others will suffer heavy bleeding and could also have mood swings, cramps and fatigue.

Speaking to The Sun, one expert said it’s likely the cold winter months will have an effect on your period, but said there are things you can do to manage the seasonal impact.

Dr Sarah Welsh, co-founder of sexual wellness brand HANX, said: “Your period and PMS may well feel worse in winter, as the days are shorter, darker, and colder. 

“All of this can negatively impact your mood and other aspects of your life that affect your menstrual cycle.”

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Dr Sarah explains four ways to winter proof your period…

1. Manage your pain

The reason you might struggle more with your period in colder weather is because your pain receptors may be more sensitive to the cold, says Dr Sarah.

This, coupled with reduced circulation in chillier temperatures, may make you feel more intense period pain.

Dr Sarah adds: “The best ways to handle it are the simplest: wrap up warm, keep moving – even if you don’t feel like it – and manage your pain with simple painkillers or a hot water bottle.”

2. Move

When you’re on your period, the last thing you might feel like doing is being active.

The winter months also mean we are more likely to spend time inside, avoiding the gym, outdoor runs and exercise altogether.

Dr Sarah says it’s obviously more appealing to snuggle up on the sofa than go for a freezing park jog.

However, it’s important to keep up movement when your period strikes.

“Whether that’s brisk walks, exercise classes, yoga or whatever makes you feel good.,” says Dr Sarah. 

“Exercise has a positive impact on PMS, so don’t forget to move your body through the wintry months!”

How to ‘period proof’ your workouts

While you might not feel like exercising during your period – there are parts of the menstrual cycle that it could be beneficial to exercise during.

NHS doctor and personal trainer, Dr Frankie Jackson-Spence said it’s completely safe to exercise at any time in your menstrual cycle depending on how you feel, but you may find you can workout at varying intensities at different stages of your cycle.

Dr Frankie, who is working with cycle studio Psycle on their ‘Psycle with your Cycle' programme, says there is growing research supporting the advantages of strength training during the first half of your cycle, in the follicular phase.

Work in harmony

In order to get the best results from your menstrual cycle, here’s the different phases and the best types of exercise for each stage:

Follicular phase (Day 1-13): Oestrogen levels gradually increase before peaking just before ovulation. 

During this time you will have more energy and feel as though you might be able to lift more, so this is the perfect time to try strength classes.

Luteal Phase (Day 14-28): Progesterone is produced and oestrogen levels drop quickly and remain low until menstruation. 

It’s during this phase that you might have cramps and your motivation could be lower. 

It’s best to try something low impact like yoga.

3. Find balance

Having balance can seem hard at the moment and many people might still be struggling to get back into some form of routine after Christmas, and amidst pandemic restriction changes.

Dr Sarah says finding balance can be tough, and encourages being kind to your body.

“Hydration is key, so keep up your water intake,” she says, noting this is especially key if you’re drinking alcohol and not doing Dry January.

Dr Sarah also says you should try and stick to a balanced diet: “Being generally health conscious will help with your pain, your PMS and your general wellness during winter.”

4. Take supplements

All Brits know the UK isn’t the warmest or sunniest place to be in the winter.

With Covid restrictions and worries meaning travel has been off the cards for many people over the last 18 months, it’s likely you’re lacking vitamin D – which the body creates when exposed to sunlight.

Dr Sarah says a lack of sunshine can have a real impact on our health.

“The sun helps our bodies make vitamin D and dopamine, both of which help improve our mood, concentration, and motivation,” she explains.

“To help any mood swings you may experience with PMS, as well as your overall wellbeing, it’s advisable to take vitamin D supplements during the winter months – unless you’re lucky enough to escape for some winter rays.”

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