21 Nov PMS: What Is It And How You Can Overcome It
Oh, the joys of womanhood! Premenstrual syndrome, aka PMS, is one of the many challenges women can face on a monthly basis. Some women have no clue what PMS is, others find it simply a bother that pre-empts the arrival of their period and for some it can be so severe making everyday tasks difficult.
PMS is often the butt of jokes and for many the condition is outright dismissed. Calling in sick to work because of PMS may raise a few eyebrows or pulling out of a commitment because you’re suffering from the physical or emotional symptoms could gain a few snickers. This is because many are unware of just how serious living with PMS is and how much if affects the wellbeing of the sufferer.
What is PMS?
PMS is classified as a combination of symptoms that occur one to two weeks prior to your period starting. For most, the symptoms will disappear once menstruation has started, but for the couple of weeks prior, the symptoms can affect you on a physical and emotional level.
Symptoms of PMS include headaches, depression, irritability, crying spells, cravings, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, acne, tender breasts, loss of libido, joint pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. The symptoms will also differ in severity from one women to the next.
What causes PMS?
The exact cause of PMS is still not clear, but several factors have been identified as having an involvement. One of the most significant factors is the change in hormones during the menstrual cycle, in particular oestrogen dominance.
The symptoms of oestrogen dominance correlate with PMS and also add mores symptoms to the growing list. Weight gain, water retention, heavy periods and slow metabolism are just some of the symptoms associated with this hormone imbalance.
Oestrogen plays an important role in our overall health and fertility, but unfortunately too much oestrogen can be a good thing. As a long-acting hormone, oestrogen needs to be removed from circulation by the liver or digestive tract otherwise it will continue to deliver chemical messages to your body’s cells.
So how does an oestrogen imbalance occur? There are several reasons you could become oestrogen dominant. Our bodies are becoming overloaded with oestrogenic compounds found in the foods we eat, from our bottles of water and even the expensive skincare and cosmetics we use.
Being overweight can increase your oestrogen levels as the hormone is produced in fat cells. A poor detoxification system and overburdened liver can reduce the body’s ability to process oestrogen. Stress can decrease your progesterone levels disrupting the hormone balance. A poor gut microbiome will impair digestion and also allow oestrogen to be reabsorbed into your bloodstream via the intestinal walls.
Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy containing oestrogen can elevate the circulating hormones. A lack of exercise can also contribute to the imbalance due to its impact on weight gain, insulin resistance, poor liver function, and stress.
How to overcome PMS
There’s no one treatment that is the cure all for PMS sufferers as hormone imbalance is a multifactorial problem. Making lifestyle and dietary changes is a great place to start to reduce your PMS symptoms.
Here’s some tips to get you started
Consume good quality protein – protein deficiency can suppress your liver function impairing the clearance of oestrogen.
Reduce your intake of omega-3 oils – consuming fatty fish regularly will improve the omega-3:6 ratio. An anti-inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean is ideal.
Eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables – the vitamins, minerals and amino acids will aid the detoxication pathways and support your neurotransmitters.
Eliminate phytoestrogens from your diet – foods like soy and flax mimic oestrogen in the body which is not ideal for those with oestrogen dominance.
Reduce exposure to xenoestrogens – these are found in plastics, fertilisers, cosmetics and also mimic oestrogen. Consider going organic if you want to avoid as many chemicals as possible.
Reduce your toxic load – this will support your liver’s health and ability to detoxify the body.
Increase your exercise – this will not only keep you fit, but also increase your levels of serotonin and dopamine.
Improve your sleep – to increase your serotonin levels.
Spend more time outdoors – to increase your Vitamin D and support your mental health.
Your menstrual cycle isn’t supposed to be a miserable thing experienced every month. They aren’t supposed to turn you into a dragon overnight, make you cripple over in pain or hoover a tub of ice-cream while crying over nothing. Through diet and lifestyle changes you can correct hormone imbalances and hopefully put an end to those unpleasant symptoms of PMS.