Swimming in Cold Water Shown to Have a Positive Impact on Menstrual and Perimenopausal Symptoms

The menstrual cycle involves the shedding and building up of the uterine wall. It usually occurs between 21 to 35 days and can be seen as a “monthly” cycle that occurs throughout the reproductive life of a female until menopause. At menopause, the cycle begins to reduce until it ceases. The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones called gonadotropins and sex hormones.



The hormonal regulation of the menstrual cycle may bring about some features known as premenstrual syndrome. These features are dysmenorrhea, headache, bloating, acne, and mood changes.

The etiology of premenstrual syndrome is not known, however, reproductive hormones and neurotransmitters play a vital role. This consists of progesterone exerting an effect on neurotransmitters like serotonin, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), and epinephrine. A rise in prolactin levels and stress levels have also been implicated.

During the perimenopausal period, the levels of hormones begin to dwindle leading to hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, fatigue, and anxiety.

Their menstrual experiences can partly shape the quality of life of women and how they perceive life. Several factors can affect a menstrual cycle causing irregularities while some other factors can cause improved menstrual and perimenopausal symptoms.

Take a plunge to improve symptoms

Megan Pound et al. did a study to determine what women thought about the effect of swimming on the clinical symptoms of menstrual and perimenopausal. They hypothesized that swimming in low temperatures confers a positive effect on the symptoms and general well-being.

They did a cross-sectional descriptive survey that involved 1114 participants. The study which was done via Facebook, involved a questionnaire that had a demographic section and a section about swimming habits. The second section required information about menstruation experience and the effects cold water swimming had on them.

Results showed that the majority of the women were affected positively by swimming in low temperatures. In the women still experiencing their menstrual cycles, 46.7%, 37.7%, and 37.6% of the women reported having improved anxiety, mood swings, and irritability respectively. In the perimenopausal population, 46.9%, 34.5%, 31.1%, and 30.3% of the women reported having improved anxiety, mood swings, low mood, and hot flashes respectively.

Furthermore, data showed that 54.6% of the women who experience their menstrual cycle and 63.3% of perimenopausal women intentionally swam in low-temperature water to make themselves feel better. They attested to the fact that the exercise positively affects them physically and mentally.

Other studies have shown evidence of the beneficial effects of swimming in low-temperature water in women.

Clinical significance

The study shows how symptoms of menstruation and menopause can be improved with a cold water dive. This is a cost-effective way of therapeutically addressing these disturbing manifestations. Other forms of exercise which can also improve these clinical features can be applied.

Is cold water swimming bad?

Cold water swimming has been shown to have beneficial effects, however, there are growing concerns about its silent negative effects. Continuous exposure to low temperatures could push the person into hypothermia and cold shock. Also, with the amount of physical exertion needed for this kind of exercise, coexisting cardiovascular disease can worsen.


Cold water swimming can be used as a treatment method for negative menstrual and menopausal symptoms. Further research is needed to explore other possible therapeutic physical activities. Also, the effects of cold water swimming on other physiological states like pregnancy should be investigated. Results might just unlock an entirely new form of therapy.


Pound M, Massey H, Roseneil S, et al. How do women feel cold water swimming affects their menstrual and perimenopausal symptoms? Post Reproductive Health. 2024;0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/20533691241227100



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