No, you aren’t just imagining it.
A lot of sh*t goes down in your body when you get your period, not the least of which, of course, is the actual shedding of the lining of your uterus. But aside from that, you might typically be more prone to anger and tears, have an increase in your appetite, and you may have a desire to sleep so, so, so much longer than usual. That time of month simply just isn’t the most fun. During the winter months in particular, all these symptoms seem to worsen, but it’s hard to know if that’s actually happening. If you’ve ever wondered, “are periods worse in the winter,” here’s what to know about the seasons’ effect on your flow.
Surprisingly enough, it’s possible that for some of us, yes, periods can be worse in the winter months. There are a variety of factors that might influence the varying effects of the seasons on your menstrual cycle. So, if you happen to be feeling like your visit from Aunt Flo has gotten particularly burdensome with the arrival of the cold weather, you are not alone, and you are not imagining it.
However, while there are reasons for increases in the severity of certain symptoms, that means there are also things to be done about it. Below are just a few of the ways in which the winter months might make your period a bit more miserable than usual, as well as gentle ways you can take the discomfort down a notch.
If you're someone who tends to feel down in general during the winter season — or if you've been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder — and you are also someone who experiences major mood shifts before, during, or even after your period, these things tend to compound when coming together all at the same time.
One good way to prepare is to make sure you have your support systems in place, and track your cycle so you know when things might be getting a little more difficult emotionally. If you need to go to therapy more often during the winter months, so be it. If you think it's finally time to join a support group, go for it. Hey, maybe just let yourself rest more than you usually do. Whatever healthy tools you use to help support yourself during darker times are great, and if you feel at a loss, reach out for help from a doctor or trusted friend.
If you're feeling lethargic and unmotivated as a result of your period during the dark, cold days, don't be too hard on yourself. Two things might be going on here: our bodies actually produce more melatonin during the winter months when things get darker, and during your period, the "plunge" in estrogen can cause fatigue.
So, if you feel like doing next to nothing when it's that time of the month, you aren’t alone. Rest is totally key, but it's still important to set small, attainable goals for yourself to give you that little boost when you need it most. Take a short walk, stretch it out on a yoga mat, treat yourself to a latte, or get yourself out of the house with a friend you love. Fresh air and a little movement always seem to do the trick to brighten your mood or give you that extra bit of energy.
Do you feel particularly hungry during that time of the month, as well as during this time of the year? You are definitely not alone.
It's quite possible that this is simply because your body is using up, and needs more energy when you're menstruating, and the same goes for when it's cold outside — for real.
Make sure to feed yourself delicious, nutritious snacks. Think comfort food, but with a healthy take. If you’re hungry, you should definitely eat what you are craving. Have some fun with it by testing out some new recipes or baked goods that you’ve found on TikTok, Pinterest, or Instagram. This time of year should be all about nourishing yourself, and getting as cozy and rested as possible. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, so listen to your body and give yourself a much-needed break.
Maybe you aren't spending hours in the sunshine, but you're still definitely at risk of dehydration during the winter, and particularly during your period. As this Mayo Clinic study mentions, part of your premenstrual water retention is caused by hormones and your diet.
Make sure you've got that refillable water bottle on you at all times. You never know when you might need it most, plus drinking water throughout the day will help you feel pretty and remember to hydrate. And if you’re having a hard time remembering to drink water, add in some lemon or lime slices to give your water a refreshing boost of flavor or purchase a water tracker bottle with motivational milestones.