If you have noticed your periods are worse in the winter, you would not be entirely wrong! Periods and certainly premenstrual tension can be worse in winter. As the days are shorter and darker, your mood can be adversely affected and add to that the monthly rollercoaster of hormones that arrive with Aunty Flo and it can all seem even bleaker.
What are the different side effects of your period in the winter?
Sunshine helps us make vitamin D and dopamine, both of which boost mood, pleasure, motivation and concentration. Furthermore, winter means we spend more time indoors and we move less and eat more. This can have a bad effect on premenstrual symptoms as it has been found that women who are more active had much more regular and manageable cycles than those that hardly worked out.
Apart from the general effects on mood, winter can also have an effect on the cycle length. One paper published in 2011 discovered increased hormone secretion, increased frequency of ovulation and shorter cycles by 0.9 days in the summer compared with winter. This was also demonstrated in women who lived in warmer climates compared with those that lived in colder temperatures.
What can you do if you’re trying to get pregnant during the winter months?
Keep warm and work out more. The key is to keep moving to ensure all the chemical messengers are at even keel. Although you might ovulate more during the summer, there is no statistical evidence to say people fall pregnant less frequently in the winter months. In fact today (17th January) is supposedly the day most women find out they are pregnant! Apparently 2 weeks after January 2nd according to birth records is when the highest number of babies are conceived!
When should I be concerned about changes in my period?
If symptoms of low mood are so bad you cannot motivate yourself to go to work or enjoy the things you usually do, you should consider whether this is seasonal affective disorder or depression. It is worth speaking to your GP about this. Certainly, if you are not getting any periods at all during the winter months, again this can be abnormal and needs looking into. Heavier periods can cause low iron and anaemia and this should also be investigated by your GP.
Article by Dr Preethi Daniel, Clinical Director from London Doctors Clinic is here to offer some advice.