Premenstrual symptoms, often referred to as PMS, are very common. At least 60 percent of women suffer from PMS. It is mostly likely to occur in women in their thirties, though it can occur as early as adolescence and as late as the perimenopausal years. Many women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome find that it intensifies as they get older. That’s because PMS and the escalation of symptoms that is so common during perimenopause are actions of our inner guidance systems, trying to get us to pay attention to the adjustments we need to make in our lives.
Everything from diet to toxic relationships can disrupt a woman’s cycle. If you ignore the discomfort of PMS in your 20’s and 30’s perimenopause can be a real bitch in your 40’s.
The approach to PMS by conventional medicine views is that symptoms are strictly hormonal and they can be ‘fixed’. But it really goes deeper than that. What is the woman’s life like, her relationships, her work, her friends and family. The pill and anti-depressant prescriptions really aren’t getting to the deeper causes.
Women Listen to Your Body
The truth is, if you ignore your cyclic nature and disconnect from your body’s wisdom PMS will often be the result. You can not control your cycle. It is in delicate balance with nature and if you use things like the pill to determine when you will get your period for convivence sake, over time you will become more and more out of sync with nature and the people around you and you will experience more irritability, pain, craziness.
Symptoms of PMS
- Abdominal bloating and cramping
- Accident proneness, coordination difficulties
- Acne, hives
- Aggression, rage
- Anxiety, irritability, suicidal thoughts
- Back pain
- Breast swelling and pain
- Depression, withdrawal from others, emotional lability
- Exacerbation of preexisting conditions (lupus, arthritis, ulcers, herpes, etc.)
- Fatigue, lethargy
- Food binges, salt cravings, sweet cravings
- Headache, migraine
- Heart palpitations
- Joint swelling and pain
- Sex drive changes
Keeping a symptom journal can be a valuable tool when trying to uncover your premenstrual symptom triggers and the issues associated with them. If nothing is done to interrupt PMS, it often gets worse over time. A woman may begin by having symptoms just a few days before her period that stop abruptly as soon as her period begins. Then the symptoms gradually begin to appear one to two weeks before the onset of menses. Over time, a woman may have only two or three days of the month that are symptom-free. Eventually no discernable pattern of “good” days and “bad” days can be detected. She feels as if she has PMS all of the time.
Triggers of PMS
Many events and other factors can contribute to or trigger PMS by resulting in hormonal changes in the body, including:
- Onset of menses
- Discontinuing birth control pills
- Childbirth, or termination of pregnancy
- Tubal ligation
- High consumption of dairy products
- Excessive consumption of caffeine
- Excessive consumption of high glycemic foods
- A relatively high blood level of estrogen
- A relatively low blood level of progesterone
- Excess body weight
- Low levels of vitamins C, E, and selenium
- Magnesium deficiency
- Lack of exercise
PMS Treatment Protocol
- An alkaline diet concentrating on foods suited to your blood type.
- Take a good multivitamin-mineral supplement. Magnesium and Methylated B vitamins daily.
- Eliminate caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
- Get enough essential fatty acids in your diet. Nuts, fish, hemp oil are all good sources, so too MCT oil.
- Reduce stress. Relaxation of all kinds decreases cortisol and epinephrine levels in the blood and helps to balance your biochemistry, including the reduction of inflammatory chemicals. There are numerous types of meditation that work each woman just has to find one suited to her and her lifestyle.
- Exercise. Get at least 20 minute of aerobic exercise three times per week. Brisk walking is all that is necessary.
- Get out in the sun and fresh air.
- Try bioidentical hormones. Working with a practitioner who does regular testing will ensure the right balance.
- Don’t underestimate your close relationships. Are you in a toxic relationship? Are you able to express yourself honestly? Are you sexually satisfied? Counselling, spiritual healing, kinesiology, NLP and other therapies can all be useful to determine these questions and other needs and then help each women liver her best life.
For more information see Dr Christine Northrup’s book ‘Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom’ and ‘Moody Bitches’ by Dr Julie Holland.