PMS symptoms can usually affect 3 out of 4 women. Whereas less than 5% of women experience more severe PMS symptoms commonly associated with PMDD. PMS or Premenstrual disorder occurs between ovulation and menstruation and is triggered when progesterone and estrogen are at their highest levels during the luteal phase. Symptoms begin to present themselves around days 19-28 of the monthly cycle. PMDD or Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder is a more severe disabling form of PMS that includes physical and behavioral symptoms that disrupt daily life.
In addition to conventional methods that are available to help manage symptoms associated with PMS and PMDD there are natural, alternative methods available that can decrease the severity of symptoms and help with managing PMS and PMDD.
Signs & Symptoms
Some of the most common signs and symptoms that are associated with PMS/PMDD are mood swings, intense food cravings, tender breasts, fatigue, irritability, breakouts, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and water weight gain. Simple over the counter remedies include taking an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as pamprin, Midol, naproxen sodium, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. These can help to decrease inflammation and ease discomfort. Also taking a diuretic can help with shedding and reducing excess water weight. Prolonged uses of these medications come with their own risks. Taking an NSAID for more than 10 days can lead to stomach issues, and GI upset and mixing diuretics with NSAID’s can cause kidney problems. For those that have PMDD and are experiencing extreme mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks and depression you may want to visit with your doctor and decide if more progressive options such as hormonal birth control or anti-depressants will provide relief for your symptoms.
Holistic Ways to Manage Symptoms
Making lifestyle changes and following a sound nutritious diet can prove beneficial in managing symptoms of PMS/PMDD. Here are a few things you can implement into your diet and daily lifestyle.
1. Eat More Anti-Inflammatory Foods & Omega-3 Fatty Acid Rich Foods
Consuming foods that are high in omega 3’s or that have anti-inflammatory benefits will help to reduce inflammation and can also help to naturally reduce pain. Think of foods such as pineapple, garlic, or fatty fish like salmon. Supplementing with an omega-3 fatty acid is another great way to ensure you’re getting all of this nutrient.
2. Eat Fiber Rich Foods.
Making sure that you are eating foods that are high in fiber will help to maintain hormonal balance and can help to decrease excess estrogen from the body naturally. Taking a fiber supplement during this time of the month will ensure you’re getting enough fiber and can help with regularity and easing common digestive issues such as constipation. Some yummy high fiber foods to reach for are Brussel sprouts, apples, pears, black beans, and broccoli.
Get Your Calcium.
During the luteal phase, it is common for calcium levels to decline. Rebuilding those calcium levels can aid in decreasing pain and balance out moods. Consuming yogurt, kefir, cooked kale, and broccoli are great ways to get your calcium. Taking a calcium supplement could also be helpful.
Reach for Vitamin A Rich Food Sources.
It is normal during PMS to have fluctuations with your skin and to notice abnormal dryness, oiliness, and breakouts. Eating vitamin, A rich foods can help alleviate these common skin issues. You can find vitamin A in dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, collard greens and mustard greens. You can take a hair, skin and nails supplement which will include all the vitamins needed to increase the health of your skin during your PMS or you can take your normal multivitamin/multimineral which should also contain appropriate levels of vitamin A.
Eat More Lean Protein & Healthy Fat.
If you struggle with intense cravings during this time of the month, creating meals that are high in protein and high in healthy fats will boost satiety and decrease hunger which can help to stave off cravings. Create a super fresh and healthy cobb salad that contains a variety of vegetables as well as lean chicken breast, avocado, and boiled egg.
Supplement with Melatonin.
Sometimes PMS can cause insomnia and you either have difficulty falling asleep or you have difficulty staying asleep. This can increase fatigue and irritability. To make sure you’re getting your much-needed beauty sleep take a small dosage of melatonin (2mg or 3mg) in the evening to help you ease into a peaceful and restful slumber.
Give Herbal Tea a Try.
Drinking herbal tea can help with decreasing anxiety, promoting restful sleep, helping with hormonal balance and easing pain and discomfort some to the best herbal teas for PMS/PMDD are:
- Dong Quai- Promotes hormonal balance, decreases depression symptoms, and decreases inflammation.
- Chamomile- is great for easing anxiety and irritability and helps to promote a restful night’s sleep.
- Peppermint Tea-helps to decrease bloating and digestive discomfort.
Whether you choose to dilute oils in a warm bath, diffuse oils in a diffuser, or mix oils with a carrier oil and apply topically either option is a great alternative and natural methods of pain management.
- Chamomile- promotes relaxation and sleep
- Lavender- calming and relaxing
- Neroli- reduces anxiety
- Rose- reduces stress
Although it’s tempting to not exercise and spend time moving the body this is what will help to maintain balance within the body and can help decrease and manage symptoms. Some fun ideas for exercise when you’re managing PMS/PMDD are:
- Group exercise classes like Zumba, Spin, etc.
- Circuit Training
- Bodyweight Workouts
Find What Works For You.
Everyone is different and everyone experiences their PMS/PMDD symptoms differently. It may be that you need to truly work with your doctor to find a method that will work for you or it may be effective to just focus on nutrition and lifestyle modifications as a way to manage your symptoms. What is most important is that you find a method that works for you and stick with it.
Sources Used for this Blog:
- Office on Women’s Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Steiner, M. (2000). Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: guidelines for management. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience; 25(5): 459–468.
- Potter, J., Bouyer, J., Trussell, J., Moreau, C. (2009). Premenstrual Syndrome Prevalence and Fluctuation over Time: Results from a French Population Survey. Journal of Women’s Health; 18(1): 31–39.