Are my PMS Symptoms Normal?
Guest post by: Steven Chedore, Joycelyn Ba, Ariela Shahvar
We have all heard someone say that their PMSing and talked about how they are in pain or really emotional. Menstruation is a natural part of being a woman – the body is doing something remarkable. However, if you have ever experienced menstruation, you’ll understand the pain and discomfort that comes with it. The late night cravings, the cramps, and the unexplained mood swings. What is really going on?
What is PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a condition that affects the emotions, physical health, and behaviour of women during certain times of the menstrual cycle. If you are a menstruating woman, you’ve likely experienced this before.
Over 80% of women have claimed that they have experienced some symptoms of PMS and up to 40% of women experience symptoms that significantly affect their daily lives.
Symptoms of PMS may occur in groups or individually 7–10 days before the start of menstruation, and end shortly after menstruation begins. These symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Sore breasts
- Emotional outbursts
Even though most women have experienced PMS symptoms at some point in their lives, the exact cause of PMS is still unknown because it is complex and multifactorial.
However, its onset is related to hormone levels and women with hormonal imbalances often experience PMS. Women with PMS have lower progesterone levels, higher estrogen levels, and disturbed aldosterone function throughout their cycle (progesterone, estrogen, and aldosterone are hormones).
Progesterone has calming effects on the body, therefore, women with low progesterone tend to experience increased stress and anxiety.
Additionally, some studies have shown that the changes in estrogen levels in women with PMS, may influence neurotransmitters such as serotonin, the “happy hormone”, which may explain the mood swings and sadness that people often feel with menstruation.
How can I alleviate my PMS symptoms?
In contrast to popular belief, symptoms of PMS are not normal – women are not supposed to experience moderate to intense cramping every month. Although there is currently no “cure” for PMS, by addressing hormonal imbalances, symptoms can be alleviated. Chronic stress, hormonal contraceptives, poor diet, and hypertension can all cause hormone imbalances, therefore, through lifestyle changes and supplementation, PMS can be controlled.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet (refer below for some healthy recipes to try)
- Drink lots of fluids
- Increase intake of complex carbohydrates (refer to the blogpost “Why You Shouldn’t be Scared of Carbs and Yummy Oatmeal Recipe”)
- Restrict sodium and caffeine consumption
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy sleep schedule (refer to the blogpost “COVID messing with your sleep? Try these food and lifestyle tips to help you get better sleep”)
- Reduce stress
- Regular multivitamin
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin D
- Some scientific literature has found evidence for vitamin E, magnesium, and fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6)
It may also be useful to record your symptoms in a symptom diary to identify patterns and help your nutritionist/doctor/professional diagnose and treat the issue.
Recipes to try while on your period
- Delicious Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Pasta with Spinach Pesto
- Simplify Breakfast with this Overnight Buckwheat Groats Recipe
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Office of Women’s Health. (2018, March 16). PMS Relief. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome
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