The hormone chills
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
The first time I experienced a true cold chill, it was about five days after having my first baby boy. I remember being upstairs in our bedroom and suddenly, out of nowhere, my entire body became a block of ice. I literally couldn't move.
My poor husband had to practically carry my ice-block of a body into a hot shower, where I collapsed on all fours and waited for my body to heat up, which it just didn't do, despite being in a very warm shower. Having not warmed up after about 10 mins in the warm shower, I then ordered him to call 111 to explain this weird symptom and see if there was any explanation for this so soon after having given birth. Apparently not. I was just advised to take Ibuprofen and sit with a hot water bottle until I warmed up. Thankfully after a while I did warm up, but the cold chills have since remained a part of my regular life, and rear their shiver-some heads every once in a while - usually during my period time.
Why the chill?
Having researched further on the matter, it seems that cold flashes can be a manifestation of temperature instability — a common occurrence for women at various stages in their lives, but normally as they head closer towards the menopause (Oh, Lord I'm only 36, how much worse is it going to get?).
The chills can be part of what some of us refer to as 'period flu' - a series of seriously annoying symptoms that appear either just before, during or after our period. These symptoms are most likely the result of hormonal fluctuations and especially a reduction is oestrogen levels around this time.
Dr. Molly O’Shea has another answer: prostaglandins. “Prostaglandins can cause intestinal cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, a feeling of being flushed, and general achi-ness.” Since these chemicals can also impact your body’s temperature, they’re probably quite responsible for the fluctuations between feeling warm and then all-of-a-sudden very freezing. These temperature shifts might feel like a fever, but if you are anything like me, they ease off shortly after my period is over.
IS THERE anything I can do?
I've never been one for taking medication - a preference I inherited from my mum, however, I have heard that Ibuprofen can help with the chill-like symptoms if you need a quick fix. I find a hot shower works well for me, as well as a hot water bottle and nice thick socks on my feet. But, this is in an ideal scenario - and isn't always so easy when you aren't at home!
If you want to stay ahead of the game, you could keep a little diary of when you are getting the chills and at what point in your cycle. That way, with regular tracking, you could be prepared for them coming and ensure you wrap up extra well with layers and try not to venture too far away from home and a hot bath.
If the severity or frequency of your chills are really affecting your day-to-day life then I would say to book an appointment with your GP. I am currently waiting for a referral from my GP to a gynaecologist, who I plan to discuss all of my hormonal-induced symptoms with!