Climate Change and the Menstrual Cycle
It’s not uncommon to hear of a 28-day period as the normal, healthy duration of a menstrual cycle. In truth, your cycle may almost never hit the 28-day mark month after month. This is because the smallest things can upset the delicate balance of hormones that trigger your period, making your monthly cycle shorter or longer by a few days. In fact, even something like climate change, which appears seemingly unrelated, can affect your period.
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What is climate change?
Simply put, climate change refers to variations in weather and the environment. Some changes are shorter, while others may be more long-lasting. For instance, when monsoon comes and the rains begin to pour down each year, that’s an example of a short-term, seasonal climate change. Other changes like the rising global temperatures can be considered more long-lasting. Interestingly, both these kinds of climate changes can impact your menstrual cycle.
Does climate change affect periods?
While climate change does not directly affect your period, it results in a lot of other changes that can throw your cycle off-balance. Here are some examples of how this plays out.
Changes in your food habits
Seasonal changes in the climate may lead to alterations in your food habits. For instance, when you indulge in mangoes during summer, your body’s core temperature tends to rise. Other fruits like papaya and pineapple are also famously known for making your periods come faster, since they generate heat in the pelvic region and make your uterus contract.
Colder climates may lead to an increase in appetite. If you tend to eat more during colder months, that could lead to greater levels of estrogen in your body. This, in turn, affects the length of your menstrual cycle.
Differences in your exercise patterns
Climate change can also influence how active you are. And the level of physical activity you indulge in has a direct impact on when your period comes knocking. If you tend to work out more regularly during the summer months, you’ll notice that your cycle is generally longer by a day or two at least.
On the other hand, when the weather gets colder and you prefer to limit your physical activity, your periods could come earlier by a few days. The kind of exercise you do also impacts the length of your cycle. High intensity cardio and weightlifting could push your period back by a few days.
Increased levels of stress
While short-term and seasonal changes in the climate don’t really affect your body negatively, there’s another kind of change that’s far more troubling. And it’s looming in closer. A study revealed that with air quality worsening in many parts of the world, women exposed to polluted air in their adolescence tend to suffer from irregular menstrual cycles later in life.
Long-term climate change also results in raising temperatures, which leads to greater levels of stress. And that’s never a good sign, because stress directly affects the delicate balance of hormones in your body, leading to cycles that are longer or shorter than the healthy average.
What can we do to save the environment?
While there’s little we can do on a large scale, there are a ton of small changes that we could adopt in our everyday life to make a positive difference. Here are five quick tips that are easy to follow.
- Use reusable bags made from cloth or paper
- Switch to metal bottles instead of plastic ones
- Save water; don’t let the tap run while you’re brushing your teeth or doing the dishes
- Plant a tree each year and tend to it
- Take a carpool whenever possible
These may seem like insignificant changes, but there’s power in numbers. When we all do it together, we could ensure that our home planet doesn’t go through drastic changes in its climate. And in turn, we get to enjoy many rewards, the least of them being regular menstrual cycles.
Saikrupa Chandramouli (Author)
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