- What Exactly is PMS?
- PMS Symptoms: What Are The First Signs Of PMS?
- What Are Symptoms Of Severe PMS?
- Let’s Talk: PMS Mood Swings
- How Can I Stop PMS Fatigue?
- What Supplements Help PMS?
- Putting It All Together
- Mood swings
- Weird food cravings
- Tension headaches
Bingo! I’ve just completed my monthly PMS checklist, which means that my period will soon be here!
PMS symptoms differ from one woman to another, ranging from what is PMS…
I don’t know her (mild) to holy s#!+, this feels like hell (extreme)!
One thing is for sure if you’re a woman of childbearing age you’ve probably experienced some PMS symptoms prior to getting your period.
No idea what PMS even is? Don’t worry, this blog will surely address that plus give you more information on things that happen around our period. So sit back and relax as we delve deeper into understanding what’s going on in our body.
What Exactly is PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) pertains to symptoms women experience a week or two prior to getting our period. These symptoms can either be physical, emotional, behavioral or a combination of all three and can vary from one woman to another.
PMS Symptoms: What Are The First Signs Of PMS?
As these symptoms differ per person, there’s no specific order as to which symptoms appear first. Personally, I would see a pimple (or two), feel bloated and get easily angry (watch out people!) but other women may experience a cocktail of the following symptoms:
- Bloatedness and weight gain
- Lower abdominal cramps
- Breast tenderness
- Unreasonable hunger
- A headache
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Water retention (particularly in the hands and feet)
- Anxiousness and feeling overwhelmed
- Mood swings
- Sleepless nights
- Wanting to be alone (because you’re unreasonably annoyed at people)
- Having a short temper
- Losing the ability to focus
I used to blame my hormones for being so cheeky and snappy around my period, but who can blame me? Just looking at the list above, I can tick nearly everything off as the things I experience pre-period.
If only I could wear a warning sign that says “Stay away, a hormonal woman with PMS”, but of course that would be humiliating!
What Are Symptoms Of Severe PMS?
Whenever I hear the words “severe PMS”, I quickly associate it with my college roommate. I never saw anyone suffer more from PMS as she did.
Her abdominal cramps were so severe that she could barely pull herself to stand up or sit. One time, she scared the sh*t out of me when I heard a faint cry for help and saw a silhouette of someone crawling on the floor.
If your symptoms appear to be this debilitating or it keeps you from doing your normal tasks, don’t hesitate to give your doctor a visit. She/He may prescribe you with meds to keep your symptoms under control or look for underlying causes (such as endometriosis).
How about PMS symptoms getting worse with age? While there are studies that prove PMS worsening with age, the cause remains unknown.
Apart from getting older, some factors that can definitely make them worse are:
- Being stressed quite often
- Lack of exercise or physical activity
- Lack of decent sleep
- Having too much alcohol, salt, red meat and sugar
- Having diagnosed or undiagnosed depression
Let’s Talk: PMS Mood Swings
If you’re feeling irritable and, like me, you find yourself looking up at the sky (and Google) and asking: “how can I control my anger during my period?” or “what helps PMS mood swings naturally?”, then welcome to the club, you’re not alone.
First of all, take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Do this 3 more times. Listen, what you’re feeling is normal.
Women experience a rollercoaster of emotions during PMS (more like Six Flag’s Magic Mountain for me!) and part of that is being angry for a reason (or none). During an outburst of anger, breathing exercises and meditation help you calm down.
You may also walk outside just to get you out of the situation and shift your focus to other (more fun!) things.
As for natural treatments that alleviate PMS symptoms (not only mood swings and anger):
Working out elevates our body’s feel-good chemical, Endorphin. This keeps PMS inducing hormones (that may cause depression, cramps, anxiety) at bay and make you feel happier (or at least more stable!).
Try brisk walking, running, or cycling.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Apart from causing bloatedness, having 3 heavy, carbo-loaded meals enough to feed Godzilla can cause your glucose levels to be unstable causing your symptoms to worsen.
A study shows that low blood glucose can cause crying spells and make women with PMS more irritable.
Having your meals in small batches spaced throughout your day can keep your glucose levels stable.
Avoid C.A.S (Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sweets)
Caffeine from coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks is known to increase your anxiousness. Staying away from these drinks at least two weeks prior to your period can minimize your symptoms.
Alcohol, on the other hand, can trigger depression which can be heightened during PMS.
As for sweets (yes, milk choc and cookies, I’m referring to you), erratic changes in your blood sugar = unstable mood!
How Can I Stop PMS Fatigue?
Fatigue comes from lack of energy in the body. While the main cause could be due to PMS, the sub cause could be due to a lack of B-vitamins in your body.
These vitamins are known to convert your carbs into energy. Incorporate whole grains, lean meats (and other sources of protein), fruits and veggies in your diet. These food are known to increase B vitamins in your body.
Still not enough? Ask your doctor if a B-vitamin supplement is for you.
What Supplements Help PMS?
Aside from B-Vitamins, the following supplements may help alleviate PMS symptoms:
- Calcium – Known to decrease PMS symptoms such as fatigue, edema, pain, and depression.
- Vitamins and Minerals (like folic acid, magnesium, and other essential fatty acids) – As some PMS are caused by nutrient deficiencies, regular intake of these supplements are known to be important for the prevention of PMS symptoms.
As always, consult your doctor before taking any of these supplements.
Q: Is White Discharge a Sign Of Period Coming?
A: Leukorrhea which is characterized by a normally cloudy or white discharge is indeed a sign that your period is coming.
It has such color due to the increase in progesterone, a hormone that is responsible for your cycle and pregnancy.
However, if you experience discharge (white or any color) paired with itching and a weird smell, have it checked by your gynecologist ASAP (it could be anything from a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis to something more serious, like an STD).
Q: Why Do I Want Chocolate During My Period? Is Chocolate Good During Periods?
A: Hormones play a big part in having these cravings and that’s normal. A lot of women actually prefer chocolate (including myself!) which if you chose the right kind and amount will even help you manage your symptoms.
Which one is the best? Dark choc (65% cacao or higher)! This nugget (literally the size you need) of wonder is rich in Magnesium that can help minimize cramps plus a dose of happy hormones to boot!
Want something more natural? Try cacao nibs! Sprinkle it on top of oats, cereals or add it on your green smoothie… mmm, it’s packed with loads of good stuff!
Q: Can You Get Weird Cravings During Your Period?
A: Due to the hormonal changes that take place during your cycle, we get weird food cravings and that’s totally normal.
I know people who would eat fries dipped in ice cream or eat ice cream with ketchup! We won’t get each other’s weird craving, but that’s fine.
Q: What Helps With PMS Cravings?
A: According to a book I’ve read, cravings are actually a way our body tells us what it needs. Craving for salty chips? Your body needs some salt. Sprinkle a few on your water. Craving for something sweet? Your sugar level may be low. Eat some fruit or a small piece of dark choc.
Remember, just because we’re craving doesn’t always mean we’re hungry for something too. It could be that we’re also thirsty. Drink a glass of water. If after 15 minutes, you’re still feeling that craving, go for it!
Putting It All Together
PMS can happen to anyone with varying severity. As important as tracking your cycle, tracking your symptoms, especially if you’re experiencing severe PMS, can give your doctor valuable insight and help plan out effective treatment.
Paired with the PMS tips above, it’ll also make it easier to identify if your symptoms are improving or getting worse.
As a safety practice, always consult your doctor before taking any medication or supplements especially if you have an underlying medical condition (such as diabetes, heart disease, etc.).
What are your PMS symptoms and how do you deal with it? What tips can you give the fellow readers? Feel free to write your comments and suggestions down below, they are very much appreciated!
Cheers to good health!