Written by Emma Aarts
Do you find that your periods are as unpredictable as the weather? Well, the weather might have something to do with it. Of course, if your period is highly irregular, this is probably something you should mention to your GP. That said, the story you might have been told at school that our periods stick to a regimented, 28-day cycle is rarely a reality. One cause of irregularity might be something we rarely question when it comes to periods – the seasons. If you’ve noticed your cycle becoming longer, or even your periods becoming more painful during the winter months, there could be a scientific cause behind these changes.
So is it a case of more sunlight less pain?
One of the biggest differences between summer and winter is the quantity of sunlight available. Endless overcast, rainy days have the potential to put a dampener on your mood in a more literal way than you might anticipate. Vitamin D, which we get largely from the sun, has been seen to have an effect on our mood, which is one reason why you might not be feeling so cheery in the winter months. But it might also be having an effect on your menstrual cycle. One study which supplied young women on their period with vitamin D serum found that there was a negative correlation between the pain they reported while on their period and vitamin D levels, suggesting vitamin D could potentially help relieve period cramps. Making sure you make the most of what little sunlight there is in the wintertime, or taking vitamin D supplements, therefore, might help make sure your periods continue running as smoothly as possible.
The seasons can also have more indirect impacts on women’s menstrual cycles because of the way we change our behavior and lifestyles in the winter. Like video blogger ‘Femmehead’, you might find yourself becoming a ‘sedentary hermit’ in the winter. Tempting as it might be to hole up in front of the TV with a cup of tea of an evening, this can have consequences for your cycle. You might find, for example, that your cramps are getting worse as a result. One solution can be to keep active all year round. While it might seem like the last thing you’d want to do when you’re tired and suffering from cramps, but women have reported experiencing less pain associated with menstruation when adopting regular exercise as a part of their lifestyle. It also has the added bonus of getting you outside and seeing as much of the sun as possible – boosting your mood and possibly even further reducing some of the nastier period symptoms.
When talking about variations in the weather, however, it might be worth considering even more permanent, and potentially damaging, changes which are occurring in our environment. The US Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports that, as unpredictable weather events and natural disasters increase due to climate change, the risk of disruptions to the timing of young girls’ first periods (known as the menarche) increases. This is due to the disruption and food shortages such weather events can cause. This can have negative health impacts later in life, increasing the risk of several conditions, including fertility issues, or mental health issues, depending on whether menarche is pushed earlier or later.
Protect the climate. Period.
It is therefore so important that we preserve our natural environment and climate. And here too you can start with your period itself. Making a lifestyle change as small and manageable as changing the way you dispose of your period products can make a monumental difference to the environment, for example. Did you know that flushing tampons and pads pollutes our natural ecosystems and contributes to the destruction of the aquatic environment? FabLittleBag, makes this easy - they are sustainably sourced from sugarcane and recycled materials , are opaque and seal closed, the make disposal feel good as well as doing good.
Explore more eco ways to manage your period form menstrual cups to period underwear and reusable pads – and if you are a tampon or pad queen – that’s cool but remember: - Be a Binner not a Flusher!
Our bodies are extremely sensitive and respond to all sorts of changes in our environment. To combat the changes you might experience as a result of the changing seasons, keep active throughout the year, get as much sunlight as possible ,and ensure in winter you’re taking Vitamin D supplements if necessary. However, we also need to look after the environment around us. Making sure our periods are as eco-friendly as possible can help keep our own bodies healthy in the long run.