SOS - What is PMS?
Whether you call it the “time of the month”, “Aunt Flo”, “moon time”, or “lady business”, if you’ve had periods, you’ve probably experienced the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.
Cramps, bloating, and a little (or a lot) of moodiness seem to be the norm for us ladies when our cycle revs up. We’ve all felt it, but what exactly is PMS? Let’s dive into all things PMS, from symptoms to relief!
What Is PMS?
PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome and refers to all the physical and emotional symptoms we get during the weeks between ovulation and menstruation.
The reason for this sometimes-chaotic time is due to the sudden dip in estrogen and progesterone levels that happens when you don’t get pregnant. Some lucky ladies don’t really feel much of a change during this time, while others get more severe symptoms.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. While it can be unpleasant, mild cramping, moodiness, and breast sensitivity are all signs of our body doing its thing and dealing with changes in our hormone levels.
Chances are if you’re reading this and have a menstrual cycle, you’re all too familiar with the symptoms of PMS. Let’s go over them anyway- a refresher is always good when it comes to being in tune with our bodies as they work their magic!
It’s totally normal to feel a little different than usual during PMS. Lots of menstruating folk experience mood swings, irritability, muscle or joint pains, and anxiety. It’s also common to feel tired, get poor sleep, or experience trouble concentrating.
You may feel a bit sad and even be more prone to start crying at those tear-jerker commercials and movies, but all of this is normal! It’s good to know what to expect so these emotional factors don’t catch you off guard!
Also, some women experience intense cravings for certain foods, often high in sugar or carbohydrates.
The physical symptoms of PMS vary a bit from person to person but many of us experience swollen breasts, bloating, cramping, and back aches.
A lot of us also have constipation or diarrhea or maybe a bit more gas than usual, so it’s no surprise that sex drive can dip during this time as well.
This is all from our hormone levels changing and are signs that our body is doing its thing. Finally, some of us may experience some skin issues, including acne flare-ups, which can occur as a PMS symptom.
It’s important to note that some people experience debilitating physical and emotional symptoms that impact their ability to live their normal day-to-day lives and even negatively impact relationships.
If you feel like your symptoms are a bit more extreme than the norm, see your gynecologist to talk about PMDD.
PMDD or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is a severe form of PMS. PMDD can significantly impact a person's daily functioning and often requires medical treatment.
But don’t worry, relief is available so check with your doctor if you think you might have it.
How To Relieve PMS Symptoms
Now that we’ve gone over the nitty-gritty of the range of PMS symptoms, let’s talk relief!
Management of PMS can include lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and adequate sleep.
Some people find relief through over-the-counter pain relievers, dietary supplements, or hormonal treatments prescribed by a healthcare provider.
Be Kind To Yourself
First and foremost, be kind to yourself! Have a little more patience and give yourself some TLC during this time and acknowledge that your body is going through a lot.
Take some solo time if you feel like you need it, or schedule a night in with friends to talk and have fun.
PMS isn’t easy, but we can use this time to ground down and take some extra good care of ourselves. The Ultimate Ritual is a great way to indulge your inner goddess while showing some extra love to your intimate skin
Eat Healthy and Get Exercise Regularly
Diet and exercise impact PMS symptoms! Fast food and fatty snacks tend to make PMS worse.
Be mindful of what you put in your body. Regular aerobic exercise also helps improve PMS symptoms like depression, fatigue, and concentration.
Consume a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Reducing processed foods, sugar, and caffeine intake can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Reducing salt intake can help alleviate bloating and water retention.
Drink plenty of water to help reduce bloating and ease digestive symptoms.
Regular physical activity can help improve mood, reduce stress, and alleviate PMS symptoms. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
Get Your Zzzs
Sleep is always important but even more so during this time. Chances are you’ll feel a bit more tired and fatigued than usual. Give your body plenty of rest and indulge in some extra zzzs to help your body do its thing.
To manage your stress level during this period you can practice some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin can help alleviate headaches, muscle aches, and cramps. Follow the recommended dosages.
Heat therapy, such as a warm bath or a heating pad, can provide relief for muscle and abdominal discomfort.
Some women find relief with certain dietary supplements, such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids. Consult with a healthcare provider before taking supplements to determine if they are appropriate for your specific needs.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine intake may help manage PMS symptoms, including mood swings and breast tenderness.
Herbal remedies like chasteberry (Vitex) and evening primrose oil have been used by some people to relieve PMS symptoms.
Consult with a healthcare provider before trying any herbal remedies, especially if you are on other medications.
For severe PMS or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medications, such as hormonal contraceptives, antidepressants, or diuretics, to help manage symptoms.
Counseling and Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of counseling can be effective in managing mood-related PMS symptoms
Some individuals find relief from alternative therapies like acupuncture or acupressure.
Track Your Symptoms
Keeping a PMS symptom diary can help you identify patterns and triggers, allowing you to better manage and prepare for your symptoms.
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