Wouldn't it be nice to just wish it away? To just say "PMS be gone" and have it do so! Premenstrual syndrome (pms) is no joke. It truly alters us and leaves us riddled with symptoms like mood swings, food cravings, breast tenderness, bloating, acne, abdominal pain, fatigue, trouble sleeping and more.
PMS is viewed very differently depending on which research you look at and who you talk to. Some practice natural ways to eliminate symptoms of PMS, while others act like all you can do is lessen your PMS symptoms, but not eliminate them completely. It comes down to everyones body behaving very differently than one another, there is no "one size fits all" for anything but you have the ability of trying different things to find the best solution for you. So let's review what may help.
First I want to talk about some interesting studies done around mental health and PMS, as I've heard it all my life, so often in fact that I'm fairly sure you've experienced it too. If I've been irritable suddenly or extra anxious people, allude it to PMS symptoms (especially when I was a teenager). I can't lie, it always just increased my irritability but I'd say 50% of the time, they also weren't wrong, and my period would come a day or two later. Dr. Gillian Einstein, Director of U of T's collaborative program in Women's Health has mentioned that "There is so much cultural baggage around women's menstrual cycles, and entire industries built around the idea that women are moody, irrational—even unstable—in the phase leading up to menstruation." So for arguments sake, let's say 50% of the time, my rational irritability (that wasn't PMS related) was blamed on premenstrual syndrome... we all know how annoying that is!
To continue that idea "it wasn't until the early 1930s that the premenstrual phase specifically was identified as a cause of negative mood in women.1" Interesting. Before we go forward, I want to preface this with the fact that there are a lot of studies proving that PMS symptoms are very real but they can often also be linked to physical health and nutrition. There are new studies done everyday and older studies that are still valid. So why was this study so interesting? Because they found that the connection of mood swings to PMS is not universal. "Women living in countries where the link between negative mood and the premenstrual phase is less culturally engrained, such India and China, are far less likely to report experiencing negative mood symptoms during the premenstrual phase."4 This is why they conducted a study in Canada, where mood swings are associated with PMS, 100 randomly picked women were told to record their mood but were not told that the study was testing the correlation between their mood and their menstrual cycle.2 What I did like about the study is they measured estrogen and progesterone levels daily for six weeks, while having the women submit mood reports each day. At the end of the study, they found that fluctuation in "these hormones contributed only slightly to women's moods." They believe that cultural beliefs about PMS have influenced women and researchers expectations on premenstrual syndrome (pms). They go on to say that physical health and social support to be more strongly related to mood changes.
I'd love to see the study done on a larger randomized group and for a much longer time and see what result they get. I know that before I had my first period, I'd been told be everyone I knew that mood swings would accompany my PMS. Now the question is, did it prepare me or set me up? Or was I a growing girl, eating a lot of sweets and maybe not getting the nutrients my body needed? I do know one thing, our minds are very powerful and it is interesting to think about but I'll let you make your own conclusions on that front. However I'll leave you with this, what do we always talk about at S'moo? How vitamins & minerals from a healthy diet and the right supplements will rebalance your hormone imbalances and once again regulate your body in a way that may help eliminate PMS symptoms, menopause symptoms and more. Keep reading for a break down on how having some of these imbalances can change your mood.
It's estimated that as many as 3 of every 4 menstruating women have experienced some form of premenstrual syndrome. We start to accept that once a month, for a week or maybe only a few days, we feel crabby, frustrated, anxious, bloated.
I’m not sure which symptoms plague you but PMS isn’t really something you have to live with, I've seen many women prevent most or sometimes all of their PMS symptoms completely naturally. This is because PMS is a symptom of HORMONE fluctuation or possibly a long term hormonal imbalance like PCOS.
How do we fix it?
Here is your check list:
1) What to Eat: The expression, "You are what you eat" is no joke. Our daily nutrition really changes our body. Try to eat more whole grains, beans and barley (these are considered complex carbs). Fruits and vegetables such as (potatoes, tomatoes, onions, okra, carrots, yams, strawberries) are also complex carbs. So why do these help? When you’re having intense cravings and bad mood swings it’s from fluctuating insulin levels. These complex carbohydrates are important nutrients that will enter your bloodstream slower and help curb some of those cravings while evening out your mood.
2) When to Eat! Eat Less, But More Often. Fluctuations in blood glucose can result in rapid mood changes, including low mood and irritability. By eating throughout the day (and eating the right foods) you can keep your blood sugar stable which will improve your PMS Symptoms.
3) What to avoid: cut back on salt because sodium can cause your body to retain fluid. Tender breasts can be helped by reducing your the amount of salt in your diet. Salt is everywhere so try to cook your own meals, especially during your menstrual cycle to avoid all the salt in processed and packaged foods. Also Limit Caffeine! Coffee… Chai (chai actually has more caffeine than coffee), can actually aggravate your PMS Symptoms. Studies show limiting alcohol is a good idea too.
4. Exercise: I can’t stress enough how much this will change your life. I’ve gotten out of two depressions from exercise. My choice of exercise = swing dancing. It can be anything that gets your blood moving, breaks a sweat and leaves you exhausted enough to just pass out the second your head hits the pillow.
Studies show that physical activity can strongly influence hormonal health. It has the ability to reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to take up sugar and amino acids from the bloodstream which are then used for energy and maintaining muscle. Another bonus is physical activity helps boost levels of muscle-maintaining hormones that decline with age. So exercise… keeps you young! If you can’t perform vigorous exercise, try walking regularly as this will still help.
5. Stress management: In this day and age it is a must! Two major hormones affected by stress are cortisol and adrenaline, which is also called epinephrine. Your stress hormone is known as Cortisol. It helps your body cope with stress over a long period of time. Have you heard of “fight-or-flight” that’s your adrenaline hormone that provides your body with energy to respond to immediate danger. However today, those hormones are triggered by your life (work, Covid-19 stress, holidays, that road rage driver that cut you off this morning) are all wreaking havoc on your mental health.
The bad news is, if you don’t manage these then it will cause cortisol levels to remain elevated, which may lead to obesity and belly fat. While your elevated adrenaline levels create high blood pressure, rapid heart rate and anxiety. What will help? Exercise or on the more mellow end: meditation, yoga, massage or listening to calming music. Try to devote at least 10–15 minutes per day to stress-reducing activities, like journaling, even if you don't feel you have the time. Or try the 5 minute theory to get you started on good habits and you can use the S'moo45 Planner to help you stay on track!
6. Consistent, quality Sleep! We all know how much sleep changes our day but did you know how it changes your hormones? Poor sleep has been linked to imbalances of many hormones, including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin and growth hormone. However it may be even harder to fall asleep during your menstrual cycle because at that time your having fluctuating levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can affect a woman's ability to fall and stay asleep.
So if you can’t sleep as well, try keeping your bedroom cool, de-stress before bed (I love meditation tapes. They seem corny at first but if you just listen to what they are saying, it actually works). Also try sleeping in the fetal position. All in all, maintaining good sleep hygiene on a daily bases will make this week easier all around.
7. Try natural supplements that promote hormone balance: Women all over are finding that S'moo (the hormone balancing powder) is regulating their bodies and lessening their PMS symptoms and in some cases, taking it away completely, including reducing or eliminating acne and menstrual cramps! If you don't want to try S'moo, then try looking into some of these supplements.
At the end of a long day, you're the one experiencing your PMS symptoms. You need to decide if those pms symptoms are worth it, or if trying all 7 suggestions is a better course of action to finally say "no more pms!" Symptoms of pms are very serious and as you can see above, there is a reason behind each symptom you're experiencing which points to the idea that you don't actually have to live with the symptoms. I personally follow these 7 suggestions and I've cured my food cravings, breast tenderness, moodiness which involved irritability, depression and anxiety. I also no longer deal with menstrual cramps either.
Was it easy to implement all 7 of these elements into my life, no. Though if you continue to work in the right direction to help your PMS (Premenstrual syndrome), it will be worth it. Hormonal imbalances can cause a lot of health problems and even though aging among other factors can set them off balance, the steps above can put you on the right track again.
Consuming nutritious foods, exercising on a regular basis and engaging in other healthy behaviors can go a long way toward improving your hormonal health. If you ever need help staying on track, reach out to the S'moo Babe community, where 1000's of women are working together to find the right balance.
This content is strictly the opinion of S'moo and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither S'moo nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
1) Figert, A. E. (2005). Premenstrual syndrome as scientific and cultural artifact. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science, 40(2), 102-113.
3) Romans, S., Clarkson, R., Einstein, G., Petrovic, M., & Stewart, D. (2012). Mood and the menstrual cycle: a review of prospective data studies. Gender Medicine, 9(5), 361-384.