If you find yourself with an influx of physical and emotional symptoms the week before your period, you’re not alone. Around 75% of women experience at least one symptom of PMS - these are often negative symptoms before your period, such as mood swings, bloating, cramps and breakouts. But, just because PMS is common it doesn’t mean it’s normal. FS registered nutritionist, Harriet Well, broke down everything you need to know about PMS - plus how to reduce and manage your symptoms
Understanding your menstrual cycle and the symptoms that come with it is an essential part of a healthy balanced life as a woman. Learning to work with your cycle can be empowering and even life-changing. One common condition that many women experience is PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, which can be uncomfortable and disruptive.
While researchers do not fully understand the exact causes of PMS, they have identified several factors that may contribute to its development. Hormonal changes, fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels, changes in neurotransmitter levels, inflammation in the body, and stress can all play a role in the onset of PMS. This condition can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, including bloating, breast tenderness, mood changes, menstrual cramps, headaches, fatigue, body aches, and more.
This is our guide to managing and coping with your PMS symptoms so that you can still live your best life:
Understand Your Symptoms
The first step in managing PMS is to understand your individual symptoms. Keep track of when they occur and how severe they are. Physical symptoms may include breast tenderness, bloating, cramping, headaches, and fatigue. Emotional symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, depression, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. Each woman's experience with PMS is different and individual, therefore, it is key to understand your own.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle can help reduce the severity of your symptoms. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Limit your intake of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, which can exacerbate PMS symptoms, particularly leading up to the menstrual phase of one's cycle. Get regular exercise, which can help reduce stress and improve mood.
Stress can worsen PMS symptoms, making it important to find ways to manage stress. Some techniques that may help include deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature. You can also try journaling or talking to a trusted friend or therapist. Prioritise and make time for self-care habits and routines that support you.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep can exacerbate PMS symptoms, so it's important to get enough rest. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Establish a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Consider assessing your sleep hygiene (e.g. being mindful of screens and bright lights before bed, ensuring the bedroom is quiet, dark and cool) to ensure the sleep you are getting is quality sleep that is allowing your body to rest and recover properly.
Talk to Your Doctor or a Specialist
If your PMS symptoms are severe or interfering with your daily life, talk to a professional and get support to manage the discomfort. Although PMS is common, it is not normal to live in discomfort. They can help determine if there is an underlying medical condition contributing to your symptoms and recommend treatment options.
By understanding your symptoms, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and talking to your doctor or specialist, you can manage and cope with your PMS symptoms effectively so that you can live your best life.
Special thanks to our resident nutritionist Harriet, for her knowledge, expertise and breaking down everything you need to know.
Written by Harriet Lidgard
Nutritionist (BSc) & Health Coach