We make a lot of jokes about PMS, and attempt to undermine women who take a strong stance on things or show their emotions, by saying things like, She must have PMS. To women who live through it every month, though, it’s no joke.
Experts aren’t sure what, exactly, causes Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS.
Changes in hormonal levelsin the body are the most likely culprit, affecting some women more than others. Deficiencies in certain vitamins and mineralsmay also contribute.
Women who are already suffering fromstress, anxiety and depressionare more likely to experience PMS symptoms.
Serotonin productionin the brain may be altered during the days leading up to a woman’s period, contributing to mood and psychological symptoms.
Aboutone third of women experience PMS each month, starting up to ten days before menstruation with the symptoms getting worse as a period approaches.
Tension, irritability, mood swings and crying spells
Swollen or tender breasts
Backache and headache, also joint stiffness and pain
Upset stomach and changes in digestion including constipation or diarrhea
Appetite changes and food cravings
Trouble concentrating or remembering things
Insomnia, especially trouble falling asleep
With so many women suffering so many uncomfortable symptoms every month, there must be something we can do to lessen the misery of PMS, for ourselves and for the people who love and cohabitate with us.
Somehealthy lifestyle changes may help. TheU.S. Department of Women’s Health recommends getting at least two and a half hours oflow to moderate exerciseevery week, and participating instrength building activitieson at least two days out of every week to help combat Premenstrual Syndrome.
A hearthealthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, and low in sodium, caffeine, sugar will help with mood regulation and water retention, which can cause uncomfortable bloating in some PMS sufferers. Also, it’s a good idea toavoid alcohol, especially during the week before a period.
The U.S. Department of Women’s Health recommends getting at least two and a half hours of low to moderate exercise every week, and participating in strength building activities on at least two days out of every week to help combat Premenstrual Syndrome.
Oestrogen, a hormone that is affected in some women before menstruation can cause a drop in blood sugar making them fatigued, anxious and irritable. It might help to eatsmall, frequent meals and snacksthroughout the day to help sustain energy and avoid blood sugar slumps that could be responsible for mood changes and food cravings.
Whatever you do, don’t give in to a desire to binge on chocolate or other sugary and salty snacks. Processed snack foods will only make you feel worse.
Allow yourself toget plenty of rest. If you can, schedule stressful projects and tasks for a time other than the days leading up to your period. Be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep at night, and don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion during the day. Especially since anxiety and mood swings are heightened during this time, there is nothing wrong with curling up with a cup of herbal tea and book, instead of overextending yourself.
Practicing goodstress managementand being prepared ahead of time can work wonders for women who feel overwhelmed during PMS. Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and even therapy sessionswith a trained professional can help to maintain levels of calm and togetherness. Yoga can also work wonders for back pain and joint stiffness associated with PMS.
Supplementsmay be helpful, especially B-Vitamins, magnesium, and calcium. Someexpertstheorize that the level of fatty acids in the body may predispose someone to getting PMS, so taking supplements with Omega-3 and Omega-6, such as Evening Primrose Oil, is recommended. Vitamin E may also reduce breast tenderness and help with mood swings and irritability.
Whatever you do, don’t give in to a desire to binge on chocolate or other sugary and salty snacks. Processed snack foods will only make you feel worse. (Shutterstock photos)
An herb called Chaste Tree Berry is also a very popular remedy in Europe. Astudy publishedin theBritish Medical Journalfound that women taking the supplement experienced a significant reduction of symptoms.
If you suffer from PMS, rest assured thatit is not all in your head. While you may never be able to completely eradicate PMS from your life, by trying these healthy habits, you are sure to find something that works to help you manage your symptoms and get control of the week before your period back. Not all of these tips will work for everyone, so experiment, take good care of yourself, give yourself a break and find what works for you.