The Truth about PMS - Why your Period Shouldn't Suck

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is a term most of us are well aware of, and let's be honest, our significant others are well aware of it too. If you experience cramps, breast tenderness, headaches, bloating and/or generally become a psychotic asshole once a month, then chances are you've got PMS.

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Most people think that PMS just comes with the delight of being a female, but believe it or not, your period should actually come and go without the pain and without feeling like you're on an emotional rollercoaster. The key to a healthy period lies with your hormones, and although these chemical messengers can be a little confusing to figure out, you can rebalance them easily by listening to your body and by making a few small changes accordingly.

Here are some of the most common PMS symptoms and what you can do to help:

1. MOOD SWINGS

Anxiety, feelings of depression and irritability are extremely common from 1 week up to 2 weeks before menstruation. This can be due to a lack of progesterone, and/or estrogen dominance. 
Day to day stress can also play a huge part in the balance between these two hormones, and in the day and age that we live in now, it's no wonder why so many of us women are struggling. Stress works on the adrenal glands by stimulating the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which actually depletes our progesterone levels - our natural anti-anxiety and anti-depressant hormone!
Additionally, stress also zaps our magnesium levels which are also needed to support adequate progesterone and estrogen production.  
So, the first step to balancing your mood swings are to take control of the stress in your life. Learn to say no more often, include lots of magnesium rich foods such as nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables, and consider taking a good quality B complex vitamin too. Changing up your exercise routine to include activities like walking and yoga will also help to bring your nervous system to a state of calm and boost your overall wellbeing too.

2. SORE BOOBS

Breast tenderness is also related to estrogen dominance in the body. If you get sore breasts before your period, then the first thing you need to do is to support your liver. Why? Because the liver is the key organ involved in the detoxification and recycling of estrogens in your body. Without getting too technical, your liver can tend to prioritise the detoxification of other toxins, drugs, and hormones in your body, and while it's busy working away, the level of estrogens can start to rise and can become dominant to progesterone in the body.
To help, start by increasing the amount of cruciferous vegetables in your diet, and consider taking the supplement diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM is a compound naturally found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussel sprouts, and helps the body to metabolise estrogen and balance out levels in the body. In addition, reduce liver loaders such as coffee, alcohol and refined sugars, and be sure to drink 2-3L of water each day.

3. BLOATING

It can be seriously disheartening to wake up one morning and find out that you've put on 3 kilograms overnight, and that your skinny jeans don't fit anymore. But rest assured, this isn't due to a sudden increase of "fat" in the body - this would be physically impossible! Instead, bloating and puffiness before and during your period is all thanks to fluid retention. This can be caused by higher levels of estrogen in the body which can cause the body to hold onto more water.
The best way to beat the bloat, although it may sound counterintuitive, is to up your water intake. Secondly, swap your morning coffee with a dandelion tea! This will help to support your liver and will also act as a diuretic to help remove any excess water from the body. Additionally, support the liver by avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and increasing your intake of cruciferous vegetables.

4. ACNE

Pimples around your jawline and neck are directly related to your hormones, and generally appear a week or two before the menstrual cycle when progesterone levels rise and estrogen levels fall after ovulation. Increased testosterone levels may also be a factor as higher androgen levels can increase sebum (oil) production and cause those nasty pimples to pop up.
Increasing foods rich in zinc and vitamin A can help to fight acne and clear skin, so be sure to include foods in your diet such as beef, spinach, kidney beans, carrots, kumara and kale.
Having a diet free of refined sugars, plus controlling your blood sugar levels to prevent spikes in glucose and insulin may also help, as high levels of insulin in the body are also associated with excess sebum production.

For extra help with PMS, PCOS or menstrual irregularities, please contact me here and make a time to see me in my Parnell practice.