ice baths women hormones

Manuela Fortunato is a registered dietitian with a masters in both clinical nutrition and plant medicine. A former researcher in Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research at Washington University, Fortunato has since launched her own practice for women focused on mitochondrial health, metabolism and hormonal health. 

Here Fortunato reminds us of key research gaps that could keep us from making informed desicions about biohacking trends like cold plunge. Here’s what you should keep in mind about female health as it pertains to one of wellness’ top new trends… 

On Ice Baths, Cold Showers + Female Biology

Most of the science surrounding biohacking is based on male biology. Why is that? Simple: it’s easier, more predictable, and steady. But guess what? That doesn’t apply to women and female biology. We have a unique gift called infradian rhythm that is important to consider when it comes to extreme temperature therapy. Let me introduce it to you:

What The Heck Is The Infradian Rhythm? Men only experience what is called the circadian rhythm (24h cycles) while women, on top of that circadian rhythm, also experience the infradian rhythm (monthly cycle). It’s like the earth rotating on its axis every day, and the moon rotating around the earth every month.

As women, we experience a daily biological rhythm (like men do), but we also experience this monthly biological rhythm (men obviously don’t). Read: Do You Know The Four Phases Of Your Monthly Cycle?

on Female biology + cold temps Female biology is more vulnerable to temperature shifts. It’s absolutely essential to keep the womb warm during luteal and menstrual phases. Pushing yourself to endure dramatic temperature changes for the sake of biohacking could have detrimental effects on progesterone (the “warming” hormone), adrenals, testosterone, cortisol, and muscle mass all of which are related to fertility.

Ice baths can have incredible benefits, from nervous system to inflammation to muscle soreness and vagus nerve support. But it’s time to understand female biology and avoid the fight or flight response and fertility challenges that ice cold water can trigger.

For my female clients, I recommend keeping ice baths for the follicular phase only, while avoiding them in ovulation (if there are any ovulation challenges), luteal and menstrual phases. Acknowledging our biological differences between men and women doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us unique. And that’s a gift!

Naturally, this information is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before making changes to your care.

Want to learn more about the infradian rhythm and how to support it via nutrition, metabolism, hormones, digestion, skincare, gua sha, lymph, movement, yoga, dance and more? Consider Fortunato’s online courses on hormone health and 1:1 sessions HERE. 

Read Next: Exposing Women’s Fitness Myths: How To Workout Through The 4 Phases Of Your Cycle

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