- Are you moody? Is your body changing and acting weird? Is your face breaking out?
- Do you want to hang a “do-not-disturb” sign on your door the week before your period?
- Do you get cramps that make you want to crawl pitifully into your bed? Your cravings for chocolate are utterly overwhelming. And just where did that bag of potato chips go, anyway?
You are not alone... Many girls and young women feel this way before their period. Fortunately, this condition, called PMS, can be easily corrected naturally.
What is PMS?
PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome; "pre" means "before" and "menstrual" refers to the "menstrual cycle" or periods. PMS is a group of various emotional and physical symptoms that start before your period begins.
What causes PMS?
Scientists are still trying to figure out what causes PMS. They believe that female reproductive hormones, specifically progesterone and estrogen, play a significant role.
However, no one, not even the British Doctor Katharina Dalton, who coined the phrase "premenstrual syndrome" back in 1953, is entirely certain.
How do I know if I have PMS?
Check questions below. If most of your answers are “yes”, you are probably experiencing PMS condition.
- Do your jeans feel tighter before your period?
- Do you find yourself overreacting to stress?
- Do you feel sad or cry for no reason?
- Do your breasts hurt when touched? Does your bra feel uncomfortably tight?
- Do you have abdominal cramps?
- Do you crave chocolate, potato chips or other foods (particularly salty or sweet foods)?
- Do you wake up feeling achy even though you haven't strained anything?
- Does your stomach feel upset, even though you're not eating anything unusual?
- Do you have a pattern of headaches in the premenstrual period?
- Is it harder to study or pay attention in class?
- Do you feel tired early in the day? Do you feel exhausted when you get home?
To make sure that those symptoms are not masking any other health problems, please check with your health care specialist to find out the cause.
Why do I have cramps?
Menstrual cramps are pretty common — in fact, more than half of all girls and young women have cramps during the first few days of their periods. They can be dull and achy or sharp and intense, and they can sometimes be felt in the back or the thighs as well as the abdomen.
Special hormones called prostaglandins, cause the uterine blood vessels to constrict. As a result, the uterine muscles contract and it is felt as a cramp.
Why do some girls getting periods at 10 or earlier?
Estrogen-like acting substances in our food, cleaning products, plastic bottles and other environmental surroundings, cause children to ingest estrogen at much higher levels than what was normal in the 70's or even 80's.
As you have probably have heard by now, some girls mature much earlier due to the increased amounts of estrogen running through their bodies. Lately, girls are hitting puberty at 9 or even 8 in some cases, much too young to face puberty issues.
What should I do if I have PMS?
One of the most important strategies for coping with premenstrual discomfort is developing self-awareness. The more you are aware of a pattern, the better you will be able to recognize and deal with your symptoms, whatever they may be.
Nutrition and Lifestyle changes are also very important steps towards improving your health.
- Eat small meals frequently. I find that eating five or six small meals a day, with a good balance of complex carbohydrates (such as whole grain breads, pasta and cereals), fibre and a moderate amount of protein, helps many patients.
- Try to avoid sugar. What doesn't help is missing meals and then grabbing a candy bar. Simple sugars, like candy, soft drinks, juice drinks, cookies and ice cream, cause your body to release additional insulin. It can cause a low-blood-sugar rebound effect, sometimes resulting in fatigue and irritability
- Avoid salt for a few days before your period to reduce bloating and fluid retention.
- Cut back on caffeine to feel less tense and irritable and to ease breast soreness.
- Cut out alcohol. Drinking it before your period can make you feel more depressed.
- Try eating up to 6 small meals a day instead of 3 larger ones.
- Get plenty of sleep-about 8 hours at night.
- Since there are so many possible symptoms of PMS, it is a good idea to keep track of them. A menstrual diary helps to monitor your emotional and physical symptoms for each day of your cycle. Many women with PMS find that stresses that they would otherwise tolerate well (or ignore) at other times of the month seem to make PMS worse.
- Avoid scheduling stressful events before and during your period. When you learn what triggers your symptoms you will know when to take it easy or go home a little early and save the hard stuff for next week.
- De-stress your stress with Relaxation.
Learn a calming discipline: deep breathing, meditation and yoga are all excellent
- Exercise! Dr.DeSouza Ph.D., an exercise physiologist with the Center for Fertility and Reproductive Endocrinology at New Britain General Hospital in New Britain, Connecticut, conducted a study on 45 sedentary women. She found out, women who took easy to moderately brisk half-hour walks three or four times a week experienced significant improvement in PMS symptoms. She says: "I'd much prefer to tell a woman to go on a low-intensity walking program than tell her to take an antidepressant drug." So, take a walk!
How to stop PMS?
Medicinal herbs and homeopathic remedies have a long history of helping to get rid of PMS. The main benefit of homeopathy is that it helps very individually to relieve physical and emotional sufferings.
There are certain vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B6, Calcium and Magnesium that can help to relieve PMS symptoms too.
Herbal Remedies for Cramps
Medicinal herbs can alleviate PMS condition greatly. Here are just a few examples of medicinal herbs that can help:
- Raspberry leaves (or Rubus idaeus) contain fragrine, a specific constituent that tones the uterus and helps ease cramping.
- Motherwort (or Leonurus cardiaca) gives a noticeable improvement in menstrual cramps after one month, but in general, it takes three to four cycles to establish a difference.
- Black cohosh (or Cimicifuga racemosa) quells muscle spasms too, especially in the uterus. It relaxes the uterus and decreases cramps.
Menstrual problems that are chronic or severe are best addressed with the homeopathic medicine. It helps to bring balance to your body and soul on many levels. Below are just a few examples of homeopathic remedies that I use in my practice:
- Calcarea carbonica: PMS with fatigue, anxiety, and a feeling of being overwhelmed suggest a need for this remedy. You may have problems with water-retention and weight gain, tender breasts, digestive upsets, and headaches.
- Caulophyllum: This remedy is often helpful to women with a history of irregular periods. Symptoms include discomfort during periods and a heavy flow of blood or other discharge.
- Cimicifuga: This remedy can be helpful for painful periods, with shooting pains that go down the hips and thighs, or cramps similar to labor-pains that are felt in the pelvic area.
- Pulsatilla: This remedy can be helpful during many conditions involving hormonal changes and is often helpful to girls who have recently started having periods. PMS with irritability, moodiness, and weepiness is typical.
- Sepia: A woman who needs this remedy with PMS feels weary and dragged-out, wanting others (especially family members) to keep their distance. She often feels taken for granted and overworked, becoming irritable if demands are made.
Speaking with many of my young patients, I have found that among various PMS symptoms, cramps could be the scariest experience for many girls.
It also may be hard for teenage girls to control unusual emotional changes when experiencing their period for the first time.
That is why it is so important to support a young girl and her family emotionally and physically, helping to eliminate fear and incorrect beliefs about menstruation.
This information is not to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or if you symptoms persist.