How do women feel cold water swimming affects their menstrual and perimenopausal symptoms?

Megan Pound, Heather Massey, Sasha Roseneil, Ruth Williamson, Mark Harper, Mike Tipton, Jill Shawe, Malika Felton, Joyce C. Harper

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Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to determine how women felt cold water swimming affected their menstrual and perimenopausal symptoms.

Study design: An online survey that asked women who regularly swim in cold water about their experiences. The survey was advertised for 2 months on social media. Questions related to cold water swimming habits and menstrual and perimenopausal symptoms were analysed.

Main outcome measures: Quantitative and qualitative data including; frequency of menstrual and menopause symptoms, the effect of cold water swimming on these symptoms.

Results: 1114 women completed the survey. Women reported that cold water swimming reduced their menstrual symptoms, notably psychological symptoms such as anxiety (46.7%), mood swings (37.7%) and irritability (37.6%). Perimenopausal women reported a significant improvement in anxiety (46.9%), mood swings (34.5%), low mood (31.1%) and hot flushes (30.3%). The majority of women with symptoms swam specifically to reduce these symptoms (56.4% for period and 63.3% for perimenopause symptoms). Women said they felt it was the physical and mental effects of the cold water that helped their symptoms. For the free text question, five themes were identified: the calming and mood-boosting effect of the water, companionship and community, period improvements, an improvement in hot flushes and an overall health improvement.

Conclusion: Women felt that cold water swimming had a positive overall effect on menstrual and perimenopause symptoms. Studies on other forms of exercise to relieve menstrual and perimenopause symptoms may show similar findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPost Reproductive Health
Early online date25 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 25 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Menopause
  • perimenopause
  • postmenopause
  • menstrual
  • cold water swimming

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