Whenever I get my period, a lot of sh*t goes down in my body, not the least of which, of course, is the actual shedding of the lining of my uterus. But aside from that, I'm usually more prone to anger and tears, I notice a tenfold increase in my appetite, and I have a desire to sleep so, so, so much longer than usual. I've also noticed that, during the winter months in particular, all these symptoms seem to worsen for me. But could that really be happening? Are periods worse in the winter? Do the seasons have a major effect on my flow?
Well, friends, it's possible that for some of us, yes, periods can be worse in the winter months. There are, in fact, 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.
But hey, if 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.
1. The Amount Of Sunlight Can Affect How Long Your Period Lasts
Usually, I'm a three- to four-day period kind of gal, but in the winter, I can go up to six freaking days of bleeding. Interestingly enough, research shows that the amount of sunlight outside can impact the length of a menstrual cycle, and in the summertime, women generally have shorter periods.
So, you might want to make sure you have a few extra, 100 percent cotton, fully organic tampons ready when your period comes during the winter months. It might just be a doozy of a flow.
2. The Dark Moods Can Get Moodier
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.
So, 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 your darker times are great, and if you feel at a loss, reach out for help from a doctor or trusted friend to take the next steps.
3. Your Energy Might Be At An All-Time Low
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, I hear ya. 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, or get yourself out of the house with a friend you love.
4. You Might Be Super Dehydrated, Too
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 Dr. Orli Etingin wrote in an article for Everyday Health, part of your loss of energy during menstruation has to do with a loss of fluid in the body.
Make sure you've got that refillable water bottle on you at all times, girl. You never know when you might need it most.
5. And Yes, You Might Feel Very, Very Hungry
Do you feel particularly hungry during that time of the month, as well as during this time of the year? Girl, I got you.
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!
I say, just feed yourself delicious, nutritious snacks. Think comfort food, but with a healthy take. This time of year should be all about nourishing yourself, and getting as cozy and rested as possible.