80% of women report some physical and emotional changes in the second half of their cycle. 20% of women experience symptoms severe enough to seek medical help. It is no wonder that PMS is portrayed as something universal and inevitable.
PMS refers to a large and varying group of symptoms. The most common emotional symptoms are irritability, anxiety, depression and weepiness. The most common physical symptoms are fluid retention, abdominal bloating, headaches, breast pain and pimples. For it to qualify as PMS, your symptoms should occur during the 10 days before your period and then disappear during or shortly after you bleed.
The causes of PMS are due to the rise and fall of your hormones, mainly oestrogen and progesterone. If we are generally healthy, our periods should arrive on time, without much notice. Our ability to adapt to these hormonal fluctuations is what determines how we feel before our period arrives.
Normal period pain is a bit of cramping in your lower pelvis or back. It improves with painkillers and it does not interfere with your daily activities. This pain is caused by the release of prostaglandins in the uterus. Having more oestrogen and less progesterone can result in a higher level of prostaglandins and more period pain.
Normal period pain should disappear with lifestyle changes and some supplements. If it doesn’t disappear then it is not normal period pain, it is severe period pain and could mean an underlying medical condition such as endometriosis.
Conventional anti-inflammatory medications work by lowering the prostaglandins. While it is generally safer than taking hormonal pills to treat PMS, it would be far better to avoid using them long term due to their side effects. It is instead better to change our diet and lifestyle to improve our hormonal health.
How To Reduce PMS Severity Naturally:
These simples changes will help reduce inflammation and enhance your progesterone to help reduce PMS severity.
1. Reduce inflammatory foods
These include sugar, wheat and cow’s dairy. Lesser inflammation leads to better ovulation and more progesterone.
2. Reduce alcohol
It interferes with progesterone’s soothing effect and worsen histamine intolerance.
3. Manage stress
Stress has a huge impact on PMS. Meditate, go for a walk, get a massage — these small steps you can take on a daily basis to help relieve stress.
4. Exercise – it reduces inflammation and stress
Supplements and herbs that enhance progesterone and reduce oestrogen:
- Magnesium – reduces inflammation and increases progesterone
- Vitamin B6 (P5P) – reduces inflammation, assists in oestrogen detoxification and boost progesterone
- Vitex or chaste – relieves mood, fluid retention and breast tenderness.
- Probiotics – for healthy gut flora which will help eliminate oestrogen. Avoid antibiotics.
- Calcium d-glucarate – binds to oestrogen in the liver and deactivates it.
Natural treatments work best to prevent PMS therefore we should take them on all days, not just when we have symptoms.
To summarise, we have learnt that our periods should not be a cause of sick days and misery. Having smooth, easy periods is our body’s way of giving us a good monthly “report card”. By making small consistent changes to our diet and lifestyle and with the addition of some supplements, PMS symptoms can be resolved without the need to depend on painkillers or synthetic hormones.
The hormones we have today will be the hormones that we have in the future. Therefore, if we are looking to be fertile, transition into menopause easily and reduce our risk of hormonal cancers, it is imperative that we pay attention to our monthly cycles.