Ever noticed that your period cramps seem to be especially painful as soon as the snow starts to fall? If you’re lucky enough to live in a temperate climate—we’re looking at you, LA—you’re way less likely to experience seasonal changes to your period. If you’re like us on the East Coast and get to see all four seasons (sometimes in the same day), you’re probably going to notice some not-so-fun changes to your menstrual cycle. Below, find the real reasons why.
Believe or not, our moods aren’t the only thing that go downhill during the most frigid and bleak of the winter months. It turns out that the climates we live in can actually impact the longevity of our ovulation cycles. During the summer, we tend to have a higher frequency of ovulation—and while that means we have slightly more frequent periods, it also means they’re a little more mild. On the other hand, during the winter, we tend to have a lower frequency of ovulation—meaning we have slightly less periods, but they’re more intense in terms of flow and cramps.
There’s more, too. Not only do blood vessels constrict in the cold—adding to the pain you feel as cramps—but it’s also possible that pain receptors are more sensitive in frigid temps. Basically, your heating pad will be working overtime during the winter months.
There are only a handful of universal truths, and I’m pretty sure one of them is that winter is the most stressful time of year. Whether you’re dealing with year-end deadlines at work, studying for final exams, working overtime for Christmas, or traveling for the holidays, you’re pretty much bound to experience stress during the winter months.
An increase in stress can impact the part of your brain responsible for producing hormones—which obviously impacts the reproductive system. This can show up as a heavier-than-usual period, a late period, or even a missed period (which is ironically the last thing you want to deal with when you’re already stressed TF out).
I’ll spare you the ideas on how to reduce stress, because we all know it’s easier said than done—but I will say a good bubble bath has never hurt anyone.
Bring on Thanksgiving dinner, gingerbread cookies, and allll the latkes.
When the temperatures drop, we tend to cozy up inside and fill up our plates—not to mention that the pantry is stocked with all the drool-worthy holiday treats we know and love. The bottom line is that we usually eat more during the winter—and that’s okay. Any somewhat sudden change in your diet has the potential to impact your period—making it heavier or even more irregular—but you can rest assured that your marshmallow-topped hot chocolate is worth it.
My advice? Holiday season only comes around once a year—indulge while it lasts.
Any changes in exercise, whether it’s more or less, can definitely impact your period—and for most of us, it means we’re spending less time exercising and more time snuggling up by the fire. (If you continue to go on your outdoor long runs even when it’s snowing out, I applaud you—but it could never be me.)
It’s instinctive for us to hibernate during the winter months, which can affect literally any of the textbook PMS symptoms in just about any way. If it feels good for you, going for a walk can help to relieve cramps and even increase serotonin levels—brightening your mood and making that time of the month (and year) just a little more bearable.
With cold temperatures, darkening weather, and the absence of natural sunlight, our serotonin and melatonin levels [usually] naturally start to decrease—which is a direct cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder. A decrease in serotonin and melatonin levels also just so happens to be the main culprit when it comes to premenstrual depression—along with a handful of other PMS symptoms, too. Put it all together, and you’ve got a recipe for pretty much the most miserable period you’ve ever had.
If a balmy, beachy getaway isn’t in the cards for you, Vitamin D supplements and one of those desk lamps that mimic natural sunlight might do the trick for you.
Prepare for your cold-weather cycles with Joyja’s new Winter Nights collection.