Anyone who menstruates knows that periods can be hellish. From cramps to headaches, cravings you can’t fulfil and so on. However, having this monthly cycle during a heatwave can feel ten times worse than it normally would. Don’t fret, there is a reason behind it and ways to make yourself feel better.
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Why are periods worse during a heatwave?
It’s not just that it feels like your period is worse when it’s hot, it is actually scientifically true. That’s right, heat can have an effect on your period symptoms.
According to Dr Aziza Sesay, there is a link between vitamin D exposure and higher ovarian activity, which makes our period more frequent and sometimes longer:
There is a link between vitamin D exposure and increased production of follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), which leads to higher ovarian activity. This can make menstrual cycles shorter so periods are more frequent and often longer.
So having a period during high temperatures can actually make the cycle worse—it’s not your imagination. Here are a few things you can do to help ease your discomfort.
This one may sound cliché but it’s true. Staying hydrated during your period can really help. As Dr Sesay explains to Cosmopolitan, if you get dehydrated, your period headaches will feel much worse and can cause water retention and bloating.
Setting reminder alarms to drink water or even having refillable water bottles with reminders may help.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Even though this is general advice during heatwaves, it also applies to easing discomfort during periods. Dr Deborah Lee explains to Cosmopolitan that caffeine and alcohol increase dehydration and both can also trigger migraines for certain people.
Not good news in the heat. Both are diuretics and can make dehydration worse.
Try eating healthy
Diet can play a key part in maintaining period pain. Indeed abalanced diet can ease your cramps and general discomfort. Dr Sesay says that spicy, oily, junk and canned foods can ‘aggravate period symptoms’. She recommends eating fruits and vegetables, and try including anti-inflammatory foods like oily fish.
Opt for more fruits and vegetables, anti-inflammatory foods like oily fish, also potassium rich foods and avoid foods high in salt as that would increase water retention/bloating and worsen dehydration.
Wear breathable materials
One of the worst things in extreme heat is clothes that don’t breathe. The same applies to period products. This could be a good time to try out tampons or even a menstrual cup, these won’t stick to your body as much.
Dr Sesay explains:
You want to avoid things that could cause excessive sweating in the area or anything that may alter your balanced vaginal pH.
You can always try period panties, which are becoming increasingly popular. These work the same as pads but instead of sticking on one of your knickers, your knickers are the pads. These are a great alternative to tampons and cups if you aren’t comfortable with them.
But remember to use whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
Exercise just a little bit
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go for a mile run. Simply stretching can be good for your period pain. Exercising releases endorphins which are your natural feel-good hormones. So why not try out a few stretches or even a bit of yoga to help ease the pain?
Dr Sesay explains:
Exercise can boost your endorphin level – the natural feel good hormone which helps to improve your mood but also has an additional benefit of blocking pain receptors in the brain to ease period pain/cramps