PMS and menstruation are something that you and all of your gal pals go through every month. How often do you ever hear any woman call it menstruation though? Over the last few decades, women have come up with a creative bunch of monikers to use in place of the uber-clinical official names.
Aunt Flo is a common one. I’ve even heard women claiming they are wearing the Red Badge of Courage! My personal favorite is “Checking Into the Red Roof Inn.”
As hilarious as our nicknames for menstruation might be, the unfortunate reality is that having to go through our periods is unpleasant, particularly when it comes to having to deal with the painful, confusing, and sometimes all-out bizarre PMS symptoms.
An unavoidable experience for most women, PMS symptoms can be insanely different from female to female, with some having to endure crying spells and panic attacks, some with unconquerable cravings for Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets, and others engaging in clandestine nightly trysts with Ben and Jerry(s).
Menstruation is a defining feature of entering womanhood and is considered to be an essential attribute of the female gender. Despite the universal understanding of menstruation as a part of being female, there are many women out there who are perplexed by their individual symptoms that can be off-beat peculiar or just plain kooky.
The official medical definition of PMS is Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and refers to “physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the one to two weeks before a woman’s period.”
The varied symptoms between women can include emotional and physical disturbances that can range from mild to severe, and “tend to recur in a predictable pattern”, meaning that a majority of women will know what symptoms every month.
However, sometimes PMS symptoms are irregular and unpredictable. Due to things like biology, illness, stress and more, many women will experience unexpected PMS symptoms at some point in their life.
Researchers estimate that up to “80% of women reporting having some symptoms prior to menstruation.” An additional 20 to 30 percent of women are reported as having symptoms severe enough to interfere with daily life activities. Other studies estimate that anywhere from 3 to 8% of the female population have to deal with symptoms so harsh that they border on disabling.
This small percentage of women have an advanced form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMS is different from PMDD because while it can cause behavioral, emotional, and physical issues, the symptoms don’t typically prevent women from carrying out basic tasks and engaging in regular life activities.
The significant difference between PMS and PMDD is highlighted by the following quote: “Although regular PMS and PMDD both have physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt work and damage relationships.”
Women of all ages dealing with PMS or PMDD symptoms can manage their specific symptoms through an effective combination strategy of treatments and lifestyle adjustments [that] can help reduce or manage the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.”
Being a woman in today’s modern world is more exciting than ever before. Brimming with journeys, opportunities, and adventures to be had, the life of today’s woman is all about independence, empowerment, and the freedom to be the best she can be.
Read on below to discover our comprehensive guide to arm yourself with all the essential information you need to become a fierce femme fatale well on your way to conquering your PMS symptoms!
The Easy Three-Step Guide to Managing Your PMS Symptoms
1. Practice Awareness – keep on the lookout in the days leading up to your period by being attentive to any changes in body and mood. “PMS symptoms can begin around day 14 and last until seven days after the start of menstruation.”
- Being aware of emerging symptoms can help you prepare for your period by helping you devise a plan composed of various methods and essential strategies to manage your PMS symptoms. Additionally, practicing awareness can help you to recognize the start of your period – which can be really important if you experience irregular periods
The most common symptoms to look out for include the following:
- Bloating in the abdominal area
- Abdominal pain
- Fluid retention
- Tender, sore breasts
- Acne outbreaks
- Unusual food cravings (typically sweet foods)
- Marked changes in sleep patterns
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in libido
- Muscle weakness and pain
- Inability to concentration
- Weight gain
- Intolerance to alcohol
- Changes in mood such as irritability, anxiety, depression, and bouts of sadness and extreme emotion
2. Execute your plan of action – it’s crucial to note that while PMS cannot be cured, “you can take steps to ease your symptoms,” including the early development of modifications or adjustments specific to your individual symptoms.
- Staying aware of symptoms to determine when they are just occurring can not only help you make an effective plan of action but can also ensure an optimal level of comfort, health, and happiness during your PMS episodes until well after the end of menstruation.
Effective PMS management strategies include the following:
Exercise – exercise is among the most effective things you can do to alleviate PMS symptoms. Exercising boosts the crucial serotonin transmitter responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being and will benefit you before, during, and after your period.
- Aim for thirty minutes of exercise per day for optimal physical and mental health effects.
Sleep – although you may find it difficult to sleep in the days leading up to your period, make an effort to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Obtaining adequate sleep is crucial to reduce fatigue and promote energy and concentration for the next day.
- Consider simple techniques such as wearing an eye-mask, using blackout-style curtains, regulating air temperature to a comfortable level, and investing in quality, cuddly bedding that encourages sleep.
Diet and nutrition – eating foods full of vitamins and nutrients can vastly improve your PMS symptoms and overall menstruation experience by boosting health, energy, and mental clarity.
- Choose from a range of foods such as the following: dark green leafy vegetables, produce of a variety of colors, whole grains, calcium-based foods and high-quality protein sources such as chicken and fish.
Vitamins and supplements – while not absolutely necessary for all women, many are immensely benefited by incorporating certain vitamins into their dietary regimes.
- Experiment with folic acid or methylfolate, vitamins B6, E, D and calcium supplements to help reduce moods swings, cramping pains, and fatigue.
- Check with your healthcare provider first to ensure safe usage
Stress – make every effort you can to avoid stressful situations. Stress can wreak havoc on a woman’s health and wellbeing during their highly sensitive menstruation time.
- Consider warm, soothing baths, yoga, trips to the sauna, soaking in a hot tub, reading, and listening to relaxing music.
Medication – women with severe forms of PMS, such as those with PMDD, may benefit from discussing medication options with their doctors.
- Pain-relieving medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen – all of which can help to alleviate painful cramps, muscle weakness, and headaches and migraines. For women with abdominal issues, diuretics can also be prescribed “to get rid of extra fluid that makes them feel bloated.”
Hydration: highly effective in terms of improving bloating in the abdominal area, drinking copious amounts of water not only decreases weight from bloating, but it also cleanses the body and maintains ample hydration levels for energy and health.
- Aim for 8 cups of water per day
3. Educate yourself – having a basic understanding of PMS, PMDD, female biology, and risk factors are super helpful and can result in a level of understanding that can transform your PMS experience.
Key concepts to educate yourself on:
Biological: there are countless underlying biological reasons why women experience PMS and menstruation differently. Many medical conditions not only bring on PMS episodes but also affect the severity of symptoms.
As per Healthline.com, PMS risk factors include the following:
- A family history of PMS
- A family history of depression
- Domestic violence
- Substance abuse
- Physical trauma
- Emotional trauma
- A history of depression or mood disorders, such as postpartum depression or bipolar disorder
PMS processes, impacts, and differences: premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that affects a woman’s emotions, physical health, and behavior in the days before her menses.
Affecting countless women worldwide, having a comprehensive understanding of the various processes, impacts, and differences surrounding PMS is immensely valuable.
Biological Processes: PMS symptoms start five to 11 days before menstruation and typically go away once menstruation begins
The exact causes remain unknown to this day; however, contemporary researchers have determined that PMS is related to tandem changes in the serotonin neurotransmitter and sex hormones before the commencement of the cycle.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain and gut that powerfully regulates a person’s mood stability, thought processes, and balancing of emotions.
Impact of PMS
Healthcare providers consider PMS symptoms to be a normal phenomenon and will only intervene if symptoms are severe enough to cause interferences in life.
While very common, PMS has the rare ability to sometimes severely impair many women. An individual’s experience of symptoms can vary by month, with some months proving to be more severe than others
PMS and menstruation are experienced by women in many distinctive ways, and the most severe PMS symptoms fall under the PMDD definition. However, some women experience more mild PMS symptoms while others experience none at all.
A great number of women start to feel uncomfortable from initial PMS symptoms anywhere from a week to two weeks before their period starts, while others may not experience this discomfort at all.
In today’s modern times, women are equipped with a vast number of resources to manage their Premenstrual Syndrome symptoms.
Through diet and exercise, healthy lifestyle choices, and targeted vitamin supplementation, women of all ages and backgrounds can take advantage of numerous techniques to successfully regulate PMS symptoms in a highly effective and utterly empowering way.