PMS. It is the dreaded acronym to every woman who has ever experienced it. PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. It is a condition that can alter your emotional, mental, physiological AND physical states. Did you know that PMS symptoms are not normal? I didn’t either up until this past year. I bought into the story we’re told as young girls that PMS is part of it all. This is FALSE! Think about it. Our bodies are so intricately designed to perform on an optimal cellular level to keep us alive. Why would it fail us when it comes to reproductive health?
Pre-, meaning before, and menstrual, meaning your period, means that PMS is experienced the week leading up to your bleed. Signs and symptoms can range from mood swings to extreme physical discomfort. Refer to the list below for the slew of possible signs and symptoms.
Signs & Symptoms of PMS
- mood swings
- abdominal pain or discomfort
- sore breasts
- food cravings
- heightened senses to light, smell, taste
- skin sensitivity
- trouble sleeping
- behavioral changes¹
*Among many others. PMS has been associated with nearly 200 hundred signs and symptoms! Every woman experiences this differently.
On average, 47.8% of women experience chronic PMS symptoms. The highest recorded prevalence rate was 98%.²
These numbers are staggeringly high for a syndrome that shouldn’t be making an appearance at all, let alone every 21 days. So what is the cause of PMS that is plaguing women on a global scale?
Possible Causes of PMS
- hormonal fluctuations/imbalances
- neurotransmitter changes
- thyroid disease
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- connective tissue or rheumatologic diseases¹
- eating disorders
- vitamin or mineral deficiencies
Ways To Treat Symptoms
- First and foremost, you know I’m going to suggest reevaluating your diet. Removing or minimizing fast food, foods high in sodium and saturated fats, sugar, caffeine and alcohol should be your first move. It doesn’t sound fun, but let’s focus on what you can ADD to your diet. Adding foods that are rich in magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins have been shown to reduce PMS symptoms.
These foods include:
- dark chocolate (woohoo! Just make sure it’s over 70% and low in sugar)
- sunflower seeds
- wheat germ
- black cohosh (a medicinal root, also found as a supplement, shown in some studies to help relieve menopause and PMS symptoms)
- low-sugar yogurt
- citrus fruits
- brown rice
Just to name a few…
2. Secondly, moving your body can help relieve symptoms, boost endorphins, and even metabolize excess estrogen that could be the culprit of some symptoms. Walking or doing light yoga is ideal during this time of your cycle, but you choose a form of movement that feels good for you.
3. Drunk up, buttercup! Staying hydrated can help with bloating, water retention, and abdominal pain. Aim to drink 1mL for every calorie you consume, or from 1,500-2,000mL (1.5-2L) per day.
4. Mayo Clinic suggests acupuncture as an alternative treatment to relieve symptoms.³ (I can’t wait to try this).
5. Reduce stress to decrease cortisol levels, which has an effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. One again, stress management looks different for every individual. Pick a few ways to manage stress that works FOR YOU.
6. Catch those Zzz’s! I’ve said it in many other posts, but sleep is so very important in our overall health and wellbeing. It’s the third pillar of health after diet & exercise. Sleep is when our brains detoxify, which can affect our neurotransmitters! If you recall, neurotransmitter changes (such as a dip in serotonin and dopamine levels) can be one of the root causes of PMS.
6. If holistic measures do not work for you, talking to a doctor about antidepressants, NSAIDs, or diuretics may help those with underlying issues and severe conditions.
If you’ve experienced PMS symptoms and do not want to live with these predictable symptoms anymore, try some of these remedies out. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I am happy to help, and keep in mind that I’ll be accepting nutrition clients come next Feb/March to help alleviate these issues through food!
Take care. Be safe, and stay healthy, friends! ❤
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- Higuera, V. (2027, June 05). Premenstrual Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome
- A DM, K S, A D, Sattar K. Epidemiology of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Study [published correction appears in J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Jul;9(7):ZZ05]. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(2):106-109. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8024.4021
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). (2020, February 07). Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20376780