Seasonal changes can affect the body in many ways. Mood, metabolism and yes, menstruation are all impacted.
Sunshine, temperature and behavorial changes associated with colder months all influence the menstrual cycle in different ways. As a result, it is very common to experience changes in your cycle and menstrual symptoms during the winter months.
Rather than treating these changes with trepidation or unease, let’s celebrate and revel the way our bodies work in sync with our surrounding environment. It’s actually really fascinating!
Studies have shown that ovarian activity is greater in summer versus winter due to the prevalence of sunshine before ovulation. Sunshine helps the body increase its secretion of ‘Follicle Stimulating Hormone’ (FHS), a hormone that helps to regulate the reproductive processes of the body.
As a result, in winter you may ovulate less frequently, and experience a longer menstrual cycle compared to summer.
Dramatic changes in temperature experienced from season to season can also affect the menstrual cycle because temperature affects our metabolic rate. This can lead to hormonal imbalances while our body takes time to adjust, often resulting in longer period cycles, and changes in menstrual symptoms.
The cold may also constrict blood vessels, which can increase period pain and alter menstrual blood flow.
Due to the changes in our hormones, delayed periods are often experienced by women who relocate to significantly colder or warmer climates, while it takes time for the body to adjust.
Generally it’s normal for a short adjustment period (so to speak) while our hormones rebalance. However, sometimes our hormones need a helping hand to course correct. Natural hormone balancing herbs such as Chaste Tree Berry can support this process by stimulating the pituitary glands and helping the body regulate progesterone and oestrogen, as well as and prolactin production.
Our cycles may also change as a result of behavioral changes that we traditionally associate with colder months such as exercising less, eating more high fat and sugary foods, and increasing our consumption of alcohol. These lifestyle behaviors can increase period pain and PMS symptoms including bloating, menstrual acne, breast pain, moodiness and even headaches.