Expert tips on coping with periods during summer

According to some studies menstrual cycles are affected by sunshine and there is a link between vitamin D exposure and increased production of a follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), which leads to higher ovarian activity which can cause frequent and longer periods. The heat in summer causes fatigue, exhaustion and dehydration and these along with the hormonal changes that can cause bloating, water retention and mood disturbances before and during periods can make the periods tiresome and difficult to cope with.

As the weather heats up during the summer months, many women experience increased discomfort during their menstrual periods however, there are several ways to cope with these discomforts and make the most of the summer season. Dr Priyanka Chauhan Garg, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Max Healthcare in Dehradun, shared, “Periods during summers are more uncomfortable in comparison to winters. The odor of female is more in periods during summer. One needs more hydration and healthy diet during that time of the month. Therefore, females should have plenty of oral fluids and liquid blend foods like soups and juices at this time. This also causes urinary tract infections, which are more common during this time. One should avoid salty snacks and foods along with fried stuff.”

She recommended, “Heavy exercises including weight lifting should be avoided. However, easy aerobic exercises and yoga can be done during this time. Personal hygiene should be maintained thoroughly. Frequency of changing the sanitary pads should be known. In summers, all females should change sanitary pads every 3-4 hours during daytime at least. This minimises excessive sweating and pads induced rashes, which are very common in summer. Washing of private areas should be done every time when use the restroom. Always wipe from front to back direction. Having a bath twice during periods is not a bad idea during summers to maintain hygiene and cleanliness.”

She insisted, “No chemical vaginal washes are to be used. All undergarments should be properly washed and sun-dried. Women should wear comfortable, loose cotton clothes and undergarments at all times or clothes of breathable fabric, which allows circulation of air and excess sweat and odor. Anger and mood changes are often noticed and experienced by many during periods, which aggravates in summers accordingly. So it is our duty to promote a comfortable environment and emotional support to the women’s family members and colleagues. Stay healthy and stay fit!”

Dr Nivedita Jha, Consultant – Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Apollo Cradle and Children’s Hospital in Bengaluru’s Koramangala, advised what you can do to manage your periods in a better way:

1. Hydration is the key – Have plenty of water and other liquids however busy you are with your work. Setting reminders to drink water may be a good idea.

2. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol – Alcohol and caffeine are known to cause dehydration, and sleep disturbances, and can worsen headaches and bloating

3. Eat clean, fresh food – Seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables should be the priority on your plate. Avoid too much salt, spicy, canned and preserved food

4. Sleep routine – Maintain a healthy sleep routine. Taking a shower, and avoiding electronic devices for 2 hours before sleeping may help women who struggle with sleep.

5. Do not forget your exercises – Think of light stretches and swimming as excess heat in the climate may hamper your normal fitness schedule

She insisted to take extra caution in the summer season when heat and sweat can lead to increased moistness in the vulva and vagina resulting in rashes and infection and suggested the following tips for better personal hygiene and avoiding infections in summer:

* Change your pad every four hours

* Use a biodegradable sanitary napkin

* Use menstrual cups

* Keep your vaginal area clean. Do not hesitate to change the undergarment frequently

* Wear comfortable loose-fitting cotton underwear

* Avoid tight clothing

* If you suspect any type of rash or infection in or near your genitals, do not ignore it and meet your gynecologist

The health expert highlighted, “Problems like irregular periods, painful periods, itching and rashes in the vulva and vagina, mood swings and other premenstrual symptoms are very commonly reported by women in by summer. Largely these problems subside as the weather changes and the environment cools itself. If the general measures do not help or relieve the problem, do meet a gynecologist for a check-up and further advice.”

Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Prasannalatha, Senior Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Kamineni Hospitals in Hyderabad, said, “First and foremost, it is important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water and fluids can help prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate menstrual symptoms such as cramps and headaches. Additionally, staying cool and comfortable can also help alleviate these symptoms. Wearing light, breathable clothing and avoiding tight clothing can help prevent overheating and discomfort. Exercise can also be beneficial during periods, as it can help boost mood and alleviate cramps. However, it is important to listen to your body and avoid overexertion during this time. Yoga, swimming and walking are all great low-impact exercises that can be done during periods.”

She recommended, “Maintaining a healthy diet is also important during periods, as certain foods can exacerbate symptoms. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean proteins and whole grains, can help keep energy levels up and minimize discomfort. Avoid high calorie diet, sugary and fatty foods. In addition to these tips, it’s important to have open communication with your healthcare provider about any concerns or questions you may have about your menstrual cycle. They can provide guidance and support to help make your periods as comfortable as possible. Overall, with the right strategies and support, women can manage their menstrual periods during the summer months and enjoy all that the season has to offer.”