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Menstruation puts more demands on the body. With rising hormone levels, it can feel harder to function as we normally do. In the summer months, add in a heatwave, and period symptoms might feel near impossible. Both require additional self-care. So, when you find yourself juggling both, it’s time to double down.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
The hormone, progesterone, peaks with menstruation. With this comes a slight increase in basal body temperature. It can also mean high stress, mood fluctuations, and trouble sleeping. Period self-care can be really important at this time.
Unfortunately, warmer temperatures also increase our body temperature, as well as the internal work required to stay cool and avoid dehydration. With the physical discomfort of heat, symptoms of stress can increase and sleep can be a challenge.
Top Tips for Menstruating During a Heatwave
The best ways to cope is to face these challenges head on, and stop pretending that things are status quo. Extreme heat during that time of the month is no joke!
Slow down and be mindful of your basic needs; food, shelter, clothing, and sleep. Make sure clothing is loose-fitting. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Find ways to encourage more rest by crossing items off your to-do list, if possible. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and your period symptoms feel worse, managing stress should be a #1 priority.
Wear light, loose, breathable clothing and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Situate yourself near an air conditioner. A cool, damp cloth on the back of the neck or running cold water over major arteries in the wrists can also help. Bringing your temperature down ever so slightly, helps combat the natural rise from menstruation, as well as the heatwave.
Combat dehydration by drinking electrolyte-rich beverages like coconut water or eating potassium-rich food like bananas. Stay away from sugar found in sports drinks and diuretics, like alcohol and coffee. Symptoms of dehydration further exacerbate feelings of fatigue and stress. If you’re already prone to headaches during your period (or heatwaves), stay extra hydrated, as dehydration further constricts blood vessels and flow to the brain.
Do what you can to lessen stressors. Minimize to-do’s and put things off for another day or week when you’re under a bit less pressure. Work from home, if you can and if it normally means a stressful (and stuffy) commute on public transit or a packed highway.
What To Eat
Eat foods that are cooling and hydrating, like watermelon and cucumber. Avoid cooking and try raw veggies or salads instead. Prevent further inflammation and irritability by avoiding stimulants like coffee, depressants like alcohol, and inflammatory sugars. Consume more anti-inflammatory foods instead like omega-rich cold-pressed olive oil with leafy greens and fresh tomatoes. Menstruating during a heatwave can still include delicious food!
When you reach the end of the day, even though the sun is down, it’s still hot (and you’re hot)! Take a cold shower or bath and sleep with minimal blankets. Sleep in a cool basement if you can, and take a few meditative moments to calm your nervous system before closing your eyes.
Working with Hormones & Heat
When you find yourself menstruating during a heatwave, work with hormonal fluctuations and environmental factors and give your body the extra care it needs. Recognize that some things might be out of your control, but relief can be attainable.