Many of our clients ask us if it is safe to sauna while menstruating, or if the sauna will affect their overall menstrual cycle. Similar to other activities such as running, playing sports, or practicing yoga, it is certainly fine to sauna during your menstrual period, however, we will share a few strategies to help ensure that your body remains at optimal health while doing so.
Yes it is safe to sauna while on your period and, in fact, sauna use may help relieve some uncomfortable symptoms.
Science suggests that regular sauna bathing has little to no adverse effects on the feminine menstrual cycle, but balance is always important in all things to maintain optimal health. (1)
Sauna use may help relieve symptoms associated with PMS, painful cramping, instill overall relaxation, and encourage more blood flow to the uterus. Some precautions ought to be taken if you choose to sauna during your menstruation with respect to hydration, duration of sessions, and temperature.
There are four (or five) distinct portions of the female monthly cycle, and how each woman saunas during the phases of her cycle will vary depending on hormone levels, as well as available energy and, of course, individual preferences. Below you will find an overview on how to optimize sauna use during each phase of the female monthly cycle.
Sauna Use and PMS: Bloating, Skin Outbreaks & Mood
Sauna use during the phase of a woman’s cycle that occurs several days before menstruation can be an excellent time to sauna with the intention of relieving some of the uncomfortable portions of Premenstrual Syndrome. For some women their PMS is robust enough to require the assistance of a medical practitioner to help with mood regulation or other intrusive challenges of this phase of the cycle. Sauna use during this phase for women with severe PMS should not be used as a substitute for medical assistance.
If you experience mild to moderate PMS, you may find that using a sauna during this time helps to improve overall mood, release bloating, encourage blood flow to the uterus in preparation for menstruation, and to promote relaxation.
Dopamine, Relaxation, and Quality Sleep To Relieve Symptoms of PMS
The dopamine release derived from saunas will help put a little spunk in your step during the few days before the menstruation is released and this may help to counterbalance sadness, or anger, that may be experienced prior to the period. (2)
Furthermore, the state of relaxation that is achieved during and directly after the sauna, can help deal with the influx of strong emotional experience. Finally, the ability to fall asleep more easily will help to regulate mood during this phase of the feminine monthly cycle. (3)
Clear Skin During PMS
Some women experience slight acne outbreaks related to their PMS. Sweating it out in the sauna will help to alleviate the build up of oil within the epidermis. As the perspiration pours out of the skin, pores are cleaned, and the overall appearance of the skin is quite radiant after a sauna.
There is a sense of purification to the skin after a sauna session, because it is actually cleaned from the inside out through a thorough cleansing process. Be sure to take a tepid shower after your sauna with a gentle soap all over the body, and simply pat dry the skin to avoid irritation.
Release From Bloating During PMS
Finally, if you are choosing a sauna to help with premenstrual bloating, keep in mind that you will need to drastically increase hydration in take. Bloating occurs prior to menstruation because the body loses significant fluid during menstruation, and so the body is essentially preparing for the inevitable loss. This means that the uncomfortable bloating that is experienced during PMS is actually helping to prepare the body for massive fluid loss. Therefore, if you would like to reduce bloating, you must let the body know that you will supply ample amounts of fluids. The sauna can help temporarily with bloating from PMS, but you must intake significant amounts of fluid in order to make this happen. Consider coconut water, mineral water, or other fluids that contain plenty of electrolytes.
Improved Circulation to the Uterus
Furthermore the improved circulation that results from sauna bathing will help prepare the uterus for the eventual shedding of its lining. Using a sauna during PMS can help improve overall circulation as well as blood movement directly to the uterus.
If you are using a sauna to help relieve PMS symptoms you may want to consider taking shorter, but more frequent saunas. Instead of taking one long 40 minute sauna at the end of the day, consider taking two separate 20 minute saunas in the morning and the evening.
Be sure to hydrate very well to help ease the transition into menstruation so that the body is well prepared for significant fluid loss.
Using a Sauna During Menstruation:
- Heat Sensitivity: Estrogen & Progesterone Levels are Lower
- Pain Relief & Relaxation of Intrinsic Muscle Groups
Once the female body has moved into what is technically the first phase of her monthly cycle known as menstruation, then you will want to sauna in a slightly more mindful way.
Heat Sensitivity & Menstruation
As estrogen and progesterone levels lower as the uterus begins to shed its lining the body becomes more heat sensitive, this means that the same temperature of the sauna that may have been used two weeks prior, may feel significantly warmer and more uncomfortable. So, go easy on yourself, and consider lowering the temperature of the sauna, knowing that the body is more sensitive to heat at this time of the month.
You may also want to consider reducing the amount of time spent in the sauna during menstruation. If the sauna feels warmer than usual for a woman during her period there is a physiological reason for this – always listen to your body.
There is a natural partnership between saunas and menstruation to release unwanted toxic substances from the body and prepare for a fresh new start when the period ends and the ovulation begins!
Both sauna and menstruation are opportunities to let go of what is no longer serving the body – and both have a very cathartic effect. Given that menstruation naturally serves as a release from the body, it can feel quite lovely to also release through sweating in the sauna as well. This may give women a sense of letting go of all the build up of the previous month through both the sexual organs, as well as the skin. (5)
Pain Relief From Cramps
Some women experience very painful cramps during their menstruation and are commonly instructed to use a heating pad to relieve the pain. Consider the warmth of the sauna as one large heating pad!
The warmth of the sauna will help the woman to relax the muscles in the pelvic floor, abdomen, and low back. The relaxation of this muscle group will help to relieve any and all tension that may be leading to increase in painful cramps.
As the muscles in this area of the body relax you will want to prepare for greater blood flow to release. Having an old towel around that you do not mind staining is helpful to sit on to keep the sauna clean.
The relaxation that occurs in the sauna may help to ease any painful cramping that may occur during menstruation.
During the menstrual cycle a woman will lose significant fluid. This means that even more than usual, if she chooses to sauna during menstruation, she will need to intake additional amounts of water, coconut water, mineral water, juices, or any other healthy fluids to maintain hydration.
The greatest risk involved in using a sauna during menstruation is fluid loss. In addition to normal fluid protocol while using a sauna during the rest of the month, every woman who chooses to sauna during her menstruation will need to be sure to take in fluid with utmost caution and intention.
Practicalities of Using a Sauna While Menstruating
The reality is that using a sauna while menstruating can get messy. Muscles around the pelvic floor will relax, and this can cause the uterus to shed in significant ways. Be mindful of this and prepare adequately when using the sauna.
As heat sensitivity increases, consider having a cold cloth readily available to provide some relief to the heat.
Be ready to shower afterward, but avoid very cold showers or cold plunges during this time of the month. Instead, take a gentle, lukewarm shower and consider a gentle exfoliator, patting the skin dry upon conclusion of your shower.
Put on some cozy clothes and lay down after you sauna.
Some women may just want to skip the sauna altogether on heavier flow days – listen to your body.
In Summary: The Female Monthly Cycle & How Best To Sauna During Each Phase
The menstrual phase of the feminine cycle when the uterine lining is shedding is considered to be the first phase. At this time, a woman can surely sauna, however, she will need to be mindful of the need to hydrate very, very well given how much fluid is being lost.
Remember that at this time of the month women will be more heat sensitive, so consider lowering the temperature of the sauna, as well as the amount of time spent in the sauna.
Have plenty of towels available, as well as cold compresses, to cool off afterward. During very heavy flow days you may want to skip the sauna altogether.
Use a sauna before bed to improve sleep, and during this time of the month, two short sauna sessions may feel better than one long one. Perhaps consider in the morning and evening for less than 20 minutes each time.
During this time of the month eggs are being prepared in the ovaries for fertilization. At this time, a woman may have more energy and want to treat her sauna as a workout. Higher heats and longer time spent in the sauna, followed by a cold plunge or shower will likely be very appealing.
The ovulation phase of the month is when a woman is at her most fertile. Generally speaking, her energy levels will be high, and she may want to dive into her sauna use, or use her additional energy to be as productive as possible in her daily life.
The ovulation phase is an excellent time to sauna with purpose, perhaps even adding in some heated yoga, or mild exercise while in the sauna.
The luteal phase of the female menstrual cycle is similar to that of the follicular phase and a woman may choose to repeat the above mentioned protocol:
During this time of the month eggs are being prepared in the ovaries for fertilization. At this time of the month a woman may have more energy and really want to treat her sauna as a workout. Higher heats and longer time spent in the sauna, followed by a cold plunge or shower will likely be very appealing during this time.
The ‘PMS’ phase is not generally considered a fifth phase of the female cycle, but practically speaking, it is. Generally, a similar protocol can be followed as during the actual menstrual phase of the cycle. Using a sauna can be ideal during this time of the monthly cycle if approached with care and the intention of relieving challenging symptoms.
Consider the following protocol during PMS:
Use a sauna before bed to improve sleep. During this time of the month, two short sauna sessions may feel better than one long one. Perhaps consider taking a sauna in the morning and evening for less than 20 minutes each time.
If someone has more than moderate PMS, please be sure to consult a medical practitioner to be sure that mood is stabilized within a safe range. Sauna use is not a substitute for professional medical care.
Every Woman and Every Month are Unique
Every woman is different, and how she feels about her monthly cycle will vary from month to month and woman to woman. Always listen to your own body and intuition. This article is simply a guide to help women optimize sauna use in accordance with the reality of an ever-changing hormonal level within the female body.
If you are unsure of whether sauna use is right for you during your menstrual flow or at any time of the month, always be sure to consult your primary care doctor or your OBGYN.
Remember, using a sauna during one month’s period may feel wonderful and the next month it may not be right for you. There are no hard rules when it comes to the monthly flow, so listen to your body at all times!