PMS – what you need to know

A Short Guide to PMS and what you can do to help

PMS…. These three little letters mean different things to different women. For some women, they use the term to refer to menstrual cramps, for others its used to refer to changes in their mood or a combination of other symptoms related to their menstrual cycle. It’s a term that is used quite a lot, and most women will experience some form of PMS throughout the course of their lives.

WHAT IS PMS?

It stands for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) – which refers to a group of symptoms experienced by women in the second half of their menstrual cycle leading up to menstruation (after ovulation until menses). Often these symptoms are severe enough that they affect and interrupt your daily life. These symptoms can include:

  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches, backaches
  • Skin problems (eg. acne)
  • Food cravings
  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability/aggression

Note: If you experience these symptoms all month long or are not menstruating – it is still important to investigate what is causing them and get support from your health care provider.

DO WE NEED TO LIVE WITH PMS?

When women experience these symptoms leading up to their cycles, I often educate them that while its very common among women to experience PMS, it does not need to be a normal part of their everyday lives.It is often a sign of imbalance in the body, which can be corrected.  Although it’s common just to push through the symptoms of PMS, there are lots of options to better bring the body into balance so your life isn’t interrupted by your period.

Often when comparing different women, we see that some experience only a few symptoms each month, while others experience more or different symptoms. It’s important to understand we all experience PMS differently, and there are different reasons why we experience PMS. Discovering the reason why you are experiencing PMS is crucial for finding an effective treatment strategy. It’s also important to recognise that what works for some women will not work for others. 

These symptoms arise each month for a variety of reasons including diet, genetics, stress, hormonal changes and inflammation. It’s important to understand the underlying cause of why you are experiencing PMS symptoms in order to properly and effectively reduce your symptoms.Speaking with your Naturopathic Doctor is a great way to help determine what could be contributing to your symptoms so you can create an individualized treatment plan to help you feeling your best every month.

Treatment Strategies to Help Reduce PMS Symptoms:

  • Eat Clean – eat a diet that includes whole foods including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources and healthy fats. This will ensure you are obtaining healthy vitamin and minerals, fibre and omega 3 fatty acids in your diet to help reduce inflammation and provide your body with the proper building blocks for proper hormone balance and metabolism.

  • Avoid sugar, alcohol and caffeine – these three have been shown to increase inflammation in the body and exacerbate PMS symptoms.

  • Exercise – it’s important to move your body. Exercise will help reduce stress and will produce endorphins which will help you feel more positive.

  • Vitamins and Minerals – there are a wide variety of supplements and herbs that can help with hormone balance, reduce inflammation and promote wellbeing. You should speak to your healthcare provider if the following would be a good choice for you:
    • Vitamin B6 – helps with healthy hormone metabolism
    • Calcium/Magnesium – effective in helping reduce PMS symptoms
    • Vitamin D – important for mood, bone and immune health

The above is not an exhaustive list, but a list to get you started on your way to optimal health and wellbeing. Remember, every woman is different and it’s best to work with a health care practitioner, like a naturopathic doctor, that can help you identify where your body may need extra support in order to balance and regulate your menstrual cycle.

Best in Health,

            Dr. Kaleigh

 

The content provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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