For some of us it’s just a few days of mild cramping – for others it’s more like two weeks of paralyzing agony. Why does it seem so worse in winter? Uncomfortably cold temperatures may seem counterintuitive as a remedy for menstrual pain, but trust us, there are proven scientific and medical facts as to why winter really is the ultimate enemy when it comes to female health. In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at why period pain tends to be worse during the winter months, so keep reading if you want answers!
The effects of cold on menstrual cycles and health, both physical and mental, are well established. In October 2022, a survey by intimate care brand Intimina found that cold weather can actually make period pain worse. The women surveyed said they felt changes in their condition when the temperatures dropped; 30% noted that menstrual cramps were more painful than usual, 17% mentioned having an unpredictable cycle, and 14% said having longer cycles, while 9% mentioned shorter cycles.
According to the survey, the symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle are more intense.
More than half of women approve of the presence of bloating (59%), 35% develop negative emotions, anxiety or depression, 45% suffer from migraines and 20% claim to have more sensitive skin. Several other symptoms appear in other women such as nausea, diarrhea or tenesmus. But the majority agree on the intensity of the symptoms related to the menstrual cycle during the winter.
What happens to your body during this menstrual period?
Period pain can be particularly severe during the winter months, and scientists have various explanations for this.
The drop in serotonin:
One of the reasons is the drop in serotonin levels in women, caused by reduced exposure to sunlight. During the winter, the days are shorter and darker, which leads to a decrease in the production of serotonin in our body. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of pain signals; when its levels are reduced, it can lead to an increase in perceived menstrual pain.
Changes in the production of hormones.
Hormonal changes also explain why menstrual pain can be particularly intense during the winter months. Low temperatures can cause changes in hormone production that would make the uterus more sensitive to pain, leading to stronger cramps. These changes can also affect the rate at which prostaglandins, which are hormones released by the uterus that cause inflammation and pain, are produced and metabolized.
Lack of physical activity.
Researchers believe that a lack of physical activity or a general decrease in physical activity during the winter could similarly worsen menstrual pain. When we exercise, our body produces endorphins which act as natural painkillers and reduce the feelings of discomfort associated with menstruation. However, when we are less active, these endorphins are not released at their normal rate, making us more vulnerable to painful periods.
Finally, some studies have suggested that increased stress levels associated with vacations or other activities during this time of year may also contribute to worsening cramps in some women. Stress can disrupt the hormones responsible for regulating menstrual cycles and cause disruption leading to more pronounced discomforts such as cramps during menstruation.
All of these factors can combine to create an environment in which people with menstrual pain find this time of year particularly unpleasant. However, everyone reacts differently, so it’s important to remember that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another!
Natural methods to relieve these unpleasant symptoms related to the menstrual cycle.
Start by changing your lifestyle.
Exercise can help reduce cramps and other pain associated with menstruation. A balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, provides the body with the vitamins and minerals necessary for hormonal balance.
Take regular breaks throughout the day.
One way to combat daily stress naturally is to take breaks to rest, relax, and de-stress.
Opt for natural supplements and comforting infusions.
Like magnesium or evening primrose oil, these supplements can help relieve uncomfortable menstrual cramps or heavy flow. Chamomile or ginger teas can also help relieve some of the painful symptoms.
Staying hydrated is one of the simplest and most effective tips for relieving the discomfort associated with menstrual cramps. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day can help the body absorb essential vitamins and minerals, while regulating hormones and reducing inflammation. Also, drinking a glass of cold water before bed can help reduce symptoms such as pain, swelling, and bloating. Finally, staying hydrated helps eliminate toxins released during menstruation, which can cause painful cramps. While hydration isn’t enough to fully relieve pain, it certainly helps to minimize it and promote overall well-being.
Arm yourself with a hot water bottle.
In fact, many people consider the hot water bottle to be one of the most reliable methods of relieving menstrual pain. The heat helps relax tight muscles, which brings relief within minutes. In addition, the heat also soothes abdominal pain and other associated symptoms such as headaches or lower back pain. People who experience severe menstrual pain may benefit from applying a heating pad or towel to the lower abdomen along with the hot water bottle for extra comfort.