Healthy Hormones, Part III: Taking Control of PMS

In our latest 3-part blog series “Healthy Hormones”, we’ll unpack some of the most common health issues associated with hormone imbalances, and explain the B12 LOVE approach to helping you avoid and correct them. 

If you are one of the nearly 90% of women who have experienced PMS in their lifetime, you know how UGH it feels. For anyone else who is not familiar, this is what the internet has to say about it:

Imagine your emotions are placed on a keyboard, then someone is slamming their hands on the keyboard. All you want to do is sleep and sit on something soft. If you have front cramps, it feels like someone has your abdomen in a vice. If they are back cramps, it feels like someone is kicking you in the tailbone over and over.

A combination of having muscle cramps and stomach pain from hunger, but in your lower abdomen. Feeling lethargic and just generally kinda gross. It sucks.

Periods are awful, inconvenient, dirty, uncomfortable, excruciating, exhausting, and you aren’t supposed to talk about them, which only makes it worse because you have to live your life pretending you aren’t constantly sweating, farting, expelling fluids from your vagina, and in so much pain you can hardly breathe. I’m not exaggerating.

0/10. Do not recommend.

As a woman who has experienced PMS myself, I concur. 0/10.

In all seriousness, while Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is extremely prevalent, it can also be very disruptive. PMS manifests in a variety of ways, most commonly:

  • Mood swings
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Food cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety, sadness, or depression
  • Bloating
  • Muscle or joint pain

Although symptoms tend to occur in a predictable pattern, the physical and emotional changes can vary in intensity from month to month. Moreover, a small number of women have truly disabling symptoms, termed Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Women who suspect they have PMDD should seek care from a licensed medical practitioner.

There’s no ‘one’ hormone involved in [PMS]—this is a complex dance and interaction between hormones.

Margaret Christensen, MD

PMS can be caused by multiple factors, including cyclic changes in hormones, chemical changes in the brain, and undiagnosed mood disorders. For example, insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.

Over-the-counter medications (i.e. Midol) aimed at relieving PMS symptoms are typically a combination of NSAID (i.e. acetaminophen), diuretic (i.e. caffeine), and antihistamine. While they may provide temporary relief, they can leave women feeling wired and tired, or upset the digestive system, amongst other side effects. 

Taking control of PMS through diet, lifestyle, and natural supplements may not only be potentially more effective at relieving symptoms, but offers additional, long-term health benefits as well. For example: 

  • Reducing intake of fat, salt, and sugar, and alcohol can help to relieve bloating and fatigue. 
  • Eating six small meals a day (rather than three large ones) will help to keep blood sugar levels stable, which also helps ease PMS symptoms.
  • Get moving! Studies show that exercise is useful in alleviating specific psychological, physical, and behavioral symptoms associated with PMS.
  • Quit smoking. As if there aren’t enough reasons to quit, research shows that adult female smokers have a higher risk of reporting PMS with more severe symptoms than non-smokers.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D have been shown to reduce the severity and number of PMS symptoms. (Read more about the importance of Vitamin D)
  • B Vitamins can help fend off fatigue and provide a much-needed mood boost when PMS rolls around. Vitamin B6 especially has been shown to significantly decrease moodiness, irritability, unreasonable crying, increased appetite, bloating, breast tenderness and sugar cravings. 
  • Magnesium is another must-have when it comes to PMS. Not only does it calm the nervous system to relieve stress and anxiety, but it helps prevent bloating as well. 
  • Maca is an herbal adaptogen that is amazing for menstrual support. Dr. Shannon recommends FemmenessencePRO HARMONY, which naturally and gently nourishes the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal axis (HPA axis), balancing the body’s own hormone production. (available at all B12 LOVE Lounges).

Want to learn more? Chat with a licensed medical professional at one of our Bay Area locations.

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Check out our complete “Healthy Hormones” series!

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