We all know that the only thing more dreaded than your time of the month is the fact that for two weeks running up to it, we can be a bag of bloated, angry pain.
Headaches, mood swings or feeling especially tender (both physically and emotionally) can start kicking in up to two weeks before your period is due.
A recent study by the American Journal of Medicine estimates that 85% of women experience some degree of PMS. A small percentage will suffer from more severe symptoms that can disrupt hormone balances that may cause disruption to work and personal relationships. This is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
What causes PMS?
The exact cause of PMS remains unknown, but it is believed to be related to the fluctuating levels of hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone, that occur in a woman’s body in preparation for menstruation.
Changes in brain chemicals or body deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals may also affect the severity of PMS.
What are the symptoms of PMS?
PMS can trigger a wide range of pain, discomfort and side effects, including:
• Food cravings for sweet or salty food
• Loss of appetite
• Weight gain
• Bloating and constipation
• Back pain
• Tenderness around the breasts and abdomen
• Joint pain
• Depression, sensitivity
Who should look out for PMS?
PMS can occur in any women who has periods. PMS is more likely to occur in women aged in their late 20s to mid 40s, women who have had at least one pregnancy or women with a history of depression or other mood disorders.
How can you treat PMS?
Although you can’t prevent PMS, you can identify the way PMS affects you and take action to reduce the side effects.
Keep a diary of how PMS affects your cycle. Do you feel more irritable, or does your skin break out? Do you crave sweet foods? Take notes on your calendar and prepare in advance by keeping a good face wash and soothing cream for your skin, or stocking a stash of chocolate treats for a rainy day.
Learning the days that you are most affected by your emotions or anxiety will help you prepare your days around the month, and can help alleviate added stress by planning ahead.
Snack Through Your Symptoms
Although it’s always important to keep a healthy diet, making small changes to your diet around the time of your PMS can help with side effects of bloating and headaches. Reduce your caffeine, salt and sugar intake, opting for fresh fruit or herbal teas instead.
According to one study by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a carb-rich diet can help with cravings during times of PMS. In these cases opt for a wholewheat variety for a fuller, more nutritious option.
Also, check out our high-five foods here to help combat PMS symptoms.
Shake It Off…
Feeling sore and tired? Believe it or not, doing a Taylor and shaking it off might just be the cure to stubborn PMS. Regular exercise is vital for a balanced, healthy lifestyle, but aerobic exercise like walking, or a light jog, can help with light cramps and bloating.
We know you’d much rather flop on the couch with the TV, but for the best way to reduce those cramps, pull on your runners and take a short stroll around the park. Your tummy, (and the dog) will reap the benefits.
If abdominal pains, bloating or headaches persist, talk to your local pharmacist, who will be able to offer an over-the-counter medicine to help combat your PMS symptoms. For those suffering severe anxiety or depression, book in to see your doctor who will be able to talk you through a series of options from natural remedies and meditation to prescribed medication to best meet your needs.
Remember, as with all signs of health discomfort or unease, to consult your doctor for further support, information and advice.