Here’s the low down on what it is, what causes it and how to manage it.
WHAT IS PMS?
PMS, otherwise known as pre-menstrual syndrome, is a combination of physical, behavioural or emotional signs that are experienced by people who have a menstrual period. PMS symptoms include:
- Tender or swollen breasts
- Abdominal cramps
- Food cravings (usually for sweet, sugary things)
- Bloating, fluid retention and in some cases even an increase in weight
- Skin breakouts
- Body/back aches
- Constipation and/or diarrhoea (yes believe it or not, you can kinda have both at the same time)
- Difficulty concentrating
You may experience none, some or all of these symptoms. Sounds DELIGHTFUL, doesn’t it?! *CRY*
WHAT CAUSES PMS?
Like many of life’s unknowns (exactly how where the pyramids built? Why don’t dogs live forever?), the cause of PMS isn’t really definitively known. What doctors and researchers can seem to agree on though, is that it’s caused by some very complex interactions between progesterone (the female hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle) and chemicals in the brain.
Our stress levels, physical and mental state, eating habits, sleep patterns and genetics can also play a part in whether or not we will suffer from the symptoms of PMS, and to what severity.
WHEN DOES PMS START / STOP?
PMS symptoms are a sure sign that your period is on its way. Symptoms usually start anywhere between 4 – 10 days before your period is due and will stop once the bleeding starts – although, you may still experience some abdominal discomfort.
HOW DO I TREAT PMS?
If the symptoms aren’t too severe, PMS can generally be self-managed. Ask yourself: is my PMS stopping me or impacting on my daily life? Am I so bloated/moody/crampy that even a dance-off wouldn’t lift my spirits? If NO, here are some basic tips to self-care:
- Reduce stress: Get a massage, go for a walk, meditate
- Exercise (increases endorphins, which can act as natural pain killers!)
- Eat less salt/salty foods to help reduce bloating and fluid retention
- Increase your magnesium intake (either with a supplement or by eating lots of leafy vegies, legumes and salmon) – it’s great for period cramps!
- Drink lots of water
- Check out our blog post HERE for how to manage PMS-induced skin breakouts
- Wear a soft-cup, wireless bra for a few days (or even better still: DON’T WEAR A BRA AT ALL! There is really no feeling like the feeling of going braless).
- Don’t smoke (srsly peeps don’t smoke anyway, it’s bad for you)
- Try a natural remedy or a painkiller (ask a naturopath, pharmacist or doc)
If your symptoms seem more severe or if you can’t manage them yourself, then you may have PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a more serious form of PMS – in this case we’d recommend seeing a doctor.