Do you find yourself raging and slamming doors or weeping into a pack of biscuits every month only to find your period arrive a few days later? Or is it your skin erupting, tummy bloating or painful boobs that’s the giveaway?
Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS as it’s known to us ladies, affects around 75% of women. It’s one of those things that’s joked about all the time, but actually is something we could probably do with taking a bit more seriously.
Each month our hormones fluctuate because they’re meant to ebb and flow but the symptoms I mentioned above are actually a sign that our hormones are a little off balance. If our moods are all over the place or our skin is breaking out all the time, it’s our body’s way of signalling to us that we need a bit of TLC.
Which hormones are involved?
In the first half of our cycle, oestrogen levels are high, which is what gives us glowing skin, a great sex drive and loads of energy. It’s pretty much when we should feel our best. However, if the levels are TOO HIGH compared to progesterone, this is called oestrogen dominance and can result in symptoms like irritability, mood swings, headaches, fluid retention, tender breasts, and heavy or painful periods. Conditions like fibroids and endometriosis are also linked to high oestrogen levels.
Also, the higher the oestrogen, the quicker the crash, which can bring with it the night sweats that are commonly experienced.
Progesterone essentially keeps oestrogen in check and is responsible for helping you feel chilled out as it connects with GABA, which is your calming hormone. However, if progesterone is TOO LOW it can result in anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and mood swings.
Our stress hormone cortisol can have a massive impact on our hormones (shocker!)! It does this by blocking our progesterone receptors, which means progesterone can’t bind properly. When this happens, progesterone levels can get too low, and as mentioned above, mood swings can appear!
Our thyroid gland pretty much regulates the wonderful hormones in our body, including those involved in our metabolism, energy and menstrual cycle! If the thyroid hormones are out of balance we can gain too much weight, loose too much weight, have mood swings, struggle with fertility, lose our hair, and feel absolutely knackered, plus we can struggle with heavy periods. It’s always worth getting a complete thyroid panel to double check what the it’s doing if PMS is present!
What can we do?
Clean up our diet
Ensuring we have the correct nutrients can make a massive difference to PMS. Things like B vitamins and magnesium are really important for progesterone levels, plus they help combat the effects of stress. Certain foods like wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol can also create inflammation in the body which reduces progesterone and stops the body from effectively eliminating oestrogen. Sometimes you need to pull these things out for a bit of time to see if your mood, energy and skin improve!
Reduce stress levels
Well we all know stress is a pain in the backside, so just trying to incorporate more of what you love can be a game changer! Think of what really makes you happy and vow to do more of it!
Moving your body helps everything to flow and it’s the kind of exercise you do that can make or break you! Usually the women I see are pushing themselves too hard, so I tend to recommend doing activities like yoga or core exercises, and focusing more on strength training than endurance sports.