Cold Immersion Therapy And Your Menstrual Cycle

Cold Immersion Therapy And Your Menstrual Cycle

In a world where wellness trends come and go, cold water therapy stands out as a timeless practice that beckons us to explore its icy depths. From invigorating cold showers to immersive ice baths, cold water immersion therapy, for some, may be a powerful tool for enhancing physical and mental wellbeing. 

Spearheaded by influential figures like Wim Hof, the "Iceman" renowned for his extraordinary cold endurance feats, cold water therapy has captured the imagination of wellness enthusiasts worldwide.

To delve deeper into the intricacies of this practice, we turn to Katy Graczer, a seasoned expert in yoga and Wim-Hof trained cold therapy coach. Alongside her partner Dean Gladstone, she has been at the forefront of integrative cold therapy workshops in Australia since 2017.

Her expertise extends to certifying ice bath instructors, ensuring safety and efficacy in facilitating these transformative experiences. With over 12,000 individuals coached through cold immersion experiences, Katy offers invaluable insights into the benefits and considerations, particularly for menstruating women.

"Regardless of the menstruation situation, women generally benefit greatly from this controlled stressor," Katy emphasises. "From ages 9 to 90, we see women transformed by this practice."

Your menstrual cycle and cold water therapy

Women undergo unique physiological changes throughout their menstrual cycles, which can profoundly influence how they respond to cold water therapy. By attuning to the ebb and flow of hormonal fluctuations during different menstrual phases, women can optimise the timing and frequency of cold water immersion to harness its full therapeutic potential. 

“With women using hormonal contraception, we can't work with the cycle per se, so it's a case-by-case basis. It's safest to introduce incremental exposure as we do with all our clients and progress with success.”

"During the luteal phase and menstruation, the uterus should be warmer due to higher progesterone," Katy explains. "We don't want to interrupt blood flow or the natural lining of the womb."

However, post-period up to the luteal phase presents an optimal window for cold water immersion. "Women can submerge regularly at cold temps during this phase, supporting their mood, stress, and any discomfort," Katy suggests. By aligning with the body's natural rhythms, women can harness the transformative power of cold water therapy to find balance and harmony within.

Women may find relief from menstrual discomfort, mood fluctuations, and stress by regularly immersing in cold temperatures. Katy emphasises the importance of incremental exposure and personalised adjustments, especially for women using hormonal contraception.

Navigating risks and precautions of cold water therapy

While the allure of cold water therapy beckons, it's essential to approach it with mindful awareness, especially for women with underlying health conditions. "Mindful breathwork and consultation with healthcare professionals are crucial," Katy advises. "Understanding individual needs and limitations ensures a safe and enriching experience."

Cold water therapy, while promising in its benefits, is not without its hazards. Prolonged or extreme cold water exposure poses risks of hypothermia, shock, and cardiovascular strain. To mitigate these risks and ensure a safe and enjoyable cold water therapy experience, gradual adaptation and proper hydration are essential. 

Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or hypertension, must exercise caution and seek medical guidance before embarking on cold water immersion practices. By embracing mindfulness and understanding individual tolerance levels, practitioners can navigate the icy waters of cold water therapy with confidence and ease.

Pregnancy and cold water therapy

Pregnancy introduces a new set of considerations when contemplating cold water therapy. While the practice may hold benefits for pregnant individuals, caution is paramount due to the potential risks associated with cold exposure. Prioritising safety, pregnant women are advised to consult with healthcare professionals before integrating cold water therapy into their prenatal care routines. Modified cold water practices, such as indulging in lukewarm baths or gentle hydrotherapy, may offer therapeutic relief while minimising potential risks for both mother and baby.

Addressing the question of cold therapy during pregnancy, Katy offers nuanced insights. 

“We have many examples of cold plunging in pregnancy being supportive for mood, hormone regulation and wellbeing,” she shares. “Some studies show increased insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels, potentially reducing the risk of gestational diabetes. She goes on to share that “many experienced cold plungers will continue doing so during pregnancy, supported by their healthcare professional, to prepare themselves for labour and birth. Risks are minimal but we always suggest medical clearance. If the pregnant woman is highly stressed, taking heart medication or has high/low blood pressure, we would recommend not plunging.”

Cold water therapy coaching

Katy highlights the transformative power of coaching in cold water immersion therapy and says that with guided support, clients can learn to navigate discomfort and regulate their breath. However, she does stress the importance of gradual adaptation and understanding the body's response to cold exposure.

From anxiety reduction to improved metabolism and immune function, there are many potential benefits of cold therapy. It’s really important to start slow and see what feels right for you. As always, there is no one size fits all when it comes to taking care of yourself and your cycle.

If you're new to cold water therapy and feeling curious, you can connect with Katy and Dean on Instagram or via their website.

At Really Nice Tea we’re constantly curious about finding new ways to connect with our cycles. The more we know and the better we understand what’s happening in each phase, the more we can start working and living with our cycle rather than against it. 

Discover our full range of organic herbal tea, lovingly crafted to support each phase ~ from your period, through your follicular, ovulation and luteal phases. Each ingredient is carefully chosen to support you in the ways you need it most.

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