PMS, or premenstrual syndrome is the bane of many women’s life, on top of their monthly period. It is thought approximately 85% of women experience PMS symptoms at some point in their lives. Sometimes it can seem never-ending, you stop bleeding, only to start getting the next bout of PMS within a few days. Joyous!
What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome is a collective term that describes the various physical and emotional changes women undergo each month between ovulation and the start of their monthly period.
Not all women get all these symptoms, likewise some women don’t get any symptoms. However, it is likely that if a close blood relative suffers from PMS, you are more likely to suffer it as well. (Note likely, not guaranteed)
In general, PMS increases in severity the closer we get to menopause. Symptoms can also be triggered when we undergo major hormonal changes, e.g., pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage and when on hormonal contraceptives.
What causes PMS?
It is believed that PMS has something to do with an imbalance of hormones during the latter part of the menstrual cycle. Specifically oestrogen, progesterone, aldosterone (bloating), prolactin (sore boobs) and endorphins (mood, food cravings and pain).
Women who get PMS tend to have low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This can cause early, or delayed ovulation and leads to the imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone. All of which leads to a vicious cycle because low serotonin affects ovulation and affected ovulation lowers the level of serotonin in the brain. We just can’t win!
Top tips to control PMS symptoms
Normally, we can cope with the odd breakout and the sore boobs. But, if you find PMS is taking over your life and stopping you from doing what you would normally do. Then it’s probably a good idea to visit your doctor. They can then rule out any underlying medical condition that may be exacerbating the symptoms such as an abnormal thyroid, endometriosis and even genuine psychological problems like depression and anxiety.
But doctor aside, there are some things that you can do to help yourself ‘deal’ with the monthly build-up to your period:
Keep a diary
Writing a symptoms diary can help, and will also be helpful if you do visit your doctor. Record symptoms as and when they occur, rating them on a scale of 1 to 10. Keep this going for at least 3 months to help you recognise what is going on throughout the month and how you feel from day to day. This will then make it easier for you to schedule things to coincide with specific times.
Modify your diet
Try eating three small meals and three snacks daily, rather than three hearty meals.
Your meals and snacks should be healthy and include fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds, oily fish, chicken, etc.
And, even though your body is craving sugar, if you suffer from PMS it’s probably a good idea to step away from the chocolate, cakes and dairy products. It’s also time to ditch salt, coffee and alcohol because they can cause bloating, affect your mood and increase breast tenderness respectively.
The last thing you want to do when you feel bloated, blue and lethargic is move, but exercise is a well-known mood booster.
So even if you just get out and go for a walk, you will increase the happy hormones, endorphins, floating around your body. You will also increase the levels of oxygen in your bloodstream which improves nutrient absorption and toxin elimination which helps stabilise your hormones.
Take a good multi-vitamin
Studies such as the 2011 study by Patricia O Chocano-Bedoya, et al, ‘Dietary B vitamin intake and incident premenstrual syndrome’ have revealed that a lack of various nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, iron and zinc, can actually increase PMS symptoms.
Therefore, if you suffer from PMS it may be a good idea to investigate multi-vitamins and find one that is specifically for PMS. I have, in the past used Wild Nutrition supplements as they are vegetarian, cruelty-free, etc., and they have bespoke vitamin combinations for all the family.
Investigate relaxation techniques
Stress doesn’t help with your PMS symptoms. If anything, if you’re stressed your symptoms could get worse.
So try and find ways to relax. This could be starting to meditate daily, having a ‘me’ day, or even just switching off and having a long bubble bath.
Whatever your preferred way to relax is, enjoy it.
Hope these little tips help you on your monthly journey.
Until next time darlings.