3 little letters that can have a big impact…PMS
You are cranky, emotional, irritable, anxious, tired, bloated and your food cravings are out of control! Everyone you encounter in annoying you. You couldn’t zip your skirt this morning and you almost experienced road rage on the way to the office. You can’t concentrate, you feel “fat” and if ANYONE dares to even look at you the wrong way, or worse, bumps into you; you will give them a look that could kill! And…it is only 9 am.
An alien has not taken over your body…you are just PMS’ing!
What exactly IS PMS anyway?
Pre-menstrual symptom (PMS) is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that begin 5-11 days before the menstrual cycle begins and subside shortly after the start of menstruation. PMS affects approximately 30% of menstruating women. If you are someone that does not believe in PMS or does not experience it then YOU are one of the lucky ones. For the rest of us that suffer, read on!
Before you can FIX it, you have to understand it. You know you have PMS but why the heck is it happening, and what can you do about it? The average female menstrual cycle is 28 days long but the normal range is considered 21 to 35 days in adult women. Teens and pre-teens cycles can be 21-45 days. The average menstrual period lasts 3-5 days but again, 2-10 days is considered “normal”. During these “cycles” things change in your body as hormone levels rise and decline. This is all natural and healthy.
PMS – Let’s talk about what happens…
Ovulation (the egg leaves the ovary) occurs about 14 days or half way through your cycle. Hormone levels begin to rise in the early part of the cycle and peak just after ovulation. This is when we typically feel AMAZING!
This cycle is biology and nature at work. Right before and during ovulation you typically feel like you could concur the world! You feel sharper, thinner, stronger, and sexier! You are energetic, friendly, even more flirty. It is no coincidence that when you experience these feelings it is your natures way of putting you in a place to attract a mate! If you are wondering why you suddenly feel thinner, “hotter”, and happier during this time; that is why!
If you do NOT feel this way there are some key reasons why. If you are on birth control pills, the hormones in these pills may mute these effects. You won’t experience the ‘lows’, but you won’t experience the ‘highs’ either. Also, if your diet is not super clean, you may not experience this good week to it’s fullest. Diets high in too much processed foods, starches, and sugars will also mute this week of positive energy and feelings.
The ying and yang… The downside to the positive week comes a week later. In the week that follows: if the egg is NOT fertilized the hormones begin to decrease. If you do not cave into biology, mate and get pregnant, the egg begins to break apart and the uterine wall that was prepared for pregnancy starts to shed which ultimately results in “bleeding” aka your period. THIS is when the fatigue kicks in. Your body is preparing for pregnancy and you slow down. Fatigue starts first and then as hormone levels change, you start to enter PMS…
Is their a treatment?
We GET PMS but we don’t like it! A good place to start is with regular exercise. Endorphins released while we exercise are a natural mood enhancer, relieving stress and anxiety. A good sweat session can help eliminate the bloated feeling and help with the weight gain that you may experience, but more importantly, it CAN give you an avenue to direct that anger and PMS mood! Instead of taking it out on loved ones, take it out on the punching bag.
A CLEAN diet is also very important to minimizing the negative effects of PMS and maintaining your menstrual health. Believe it or not, you CAN ward off and fight bloating with foods such as pineapple, papaya, celery, asparagus, or peppermint tea. By eating the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats, you can reduce cravings and those raids on the refrigerator.
Vitamins and Supplements? The following vitamins have been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of PMS. You can get these in supplement form or even better, from a diet of REAL foods:
- Vitamins B-6- nuts, bananas, sweet potatoes, eggs, chicken, salmon, spinach, kidney beans
- Vitamin E- avocado, almonds, kale, pine nuts
- Calcium- low-fat yogurt, milk, broccoli, dark leafy greens, chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, oranges
- Magnesium – pumpkin seeds, edamame, cashews, lentils, bulgur
- Uva Ursi- a natural diuretic that can help you reduce that extra bloat and water weight. Parsley and asparagus are also natural diuretics.
- Caffeine- there is some debate here but caffeine CAN enhance your mood into a more positive one! A cup of green tea can help you here.
What if you feel EXTRA “crazy” during PMS? You MAY have PMDD. This is PMS on steroids! PMDD stands for Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a MUCH more severe form of PMS in which the sufferer has many of the same physical symptoms of PMS but the mood disorders are much more intense and may have an effect on their daily work and jeopardize relationships. Approximately 8% of women with PMS actually have PMDD. You MAY have this if you suffer extreme anxiety, panic attacks, despair, bouts of uncontrolled crying, intense anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, sleeping too much; or apathy toward friends, family, or daily activities.
Treatment of PMDD Birth control is often used for treatment of PMDD and PMS but in some cases can make symptoms WORSE. SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most common treatment of PMDD. You may recognize SSRI’s by their brand names, Lexipro, Prozac, Sarafem, Zoloft, and Paxil. Obviously this is a more EXTREME way to deal with PMDD and the decision should not be taken lightly. Discuss with your doctor if this is the best option for you.
The good news! Because both PMDD and PMS are cyclical, the symptoms usually present themselves in the later stages of ovulation when hormones are peaking and then subsiding gradually in the early stages of menstruation. By being aware of this, you at least can WARN your loved ones
In all seriousness, keeping a calendar of your menstrual cycle and when symptoms should arise can help you be prepared for the personality shift. Know it, expect it and plan your week around the bad week. Know that it is critical to workout harder that week, and that it is maybe not the best week to schedule major appointments if you can help it. The scale will likely fluctuate that week so just be aware of it, and don’t add it to the list of things to ‘freak out’ about. Also, make it a point to indulge in a little treat you have been craving that week. This treat will go along way to helping satisfy the cravings you will probably experience. That means you can have a little cup of ice cream, not rob the Haagen Dazs truck! Making yourself stick to celery when you can’t get chocolate out of your mind is not the way to go.