According to the United Nations data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), 31.31 million women in the U.S. reported menstrual / period pain or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) in 2020. Worldwide too, PMS affects a significant number of girls and women. Well! Periods are a biological phenomenon, so is the pre-menstrual syndrome. Even though the severity of symptoms may vary, almost all women experience these. So, does that mean you should suffer every month until you reach menopause? No! You can try several natural remedies to alleviate the symptoms of PMS. However, if PMS symptoms get unbearable and interfere with your life, you must consult a doctor.
Before discussing the remedies, let us understand PMS. It includes several physical and emotional changes that women experience a week or two before their periods. The exact cause of PMS is still unclear. However, fluctuating levels of hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, is its main cause. In addition, the decrease in estrogen levels may also alter serotonin levels in women. It thus affects their sleep, mood, and appetite. PMS symptoms affect both ways—physically and psychologically.
Physical symptoms of PMS include:
- gas and bloating
- tender breasts
- food cravings
- weight gain
- muscle aches
- swollen hands and feet
- constipation or diarrhea
The psychological effects of PMS include:
- low mood
- spells of crying
- irritability or anger
- mood swings
- increased anxiety
- difficulty concentrating
- problems sleeping, such as insomnia
- social withdrawal
- changes in libido
Here’s how you can ease your PMS symptoms naturally.
1. Know your symptoms
You can find an effective solution only when you know the problem well. Observe your symptoms to know if you get the same symptoms every month. Generally, there’s a predictable pattern but sometimes either physical or psychological, or both types of symptoms may vary every month, so does their intensity. If you have hormonal disorders like PCOS or thyroid, or if you are nearing menopause, there’s an increased likelihood of variation in PMS symptoms. You can note the symptoms down every month or use a feminine health app for it. The latter is a better option as it is convenient, quick, and has a list of symptoms for easy identification. You may also want to follow the tips on women’s wellbeing apps to reduce PMS symptoms. Choose remedies according to the symptoms that bother you the most. For example, if constipation affects your lifestyle before and during periods, you may include more fiber in your diet and avoid dehydrating drinks during that phase.
2. Exercise regularly
Ditch the popular belief that exercise may cause fatigue and worsen cramps. It is not so. Exercise before and during your menstruation has proven benefits. You do not need to test all your physical prowess during these days but ensure being physically active. Practice yoga, regular aerobic exercises, light cardio workouts, etc. Exercises facilitate the release of serotonin, endorphins, dopamine—chemicals that help improve your mood and sleep. Further, stretching muscles during exercise allows them to relax and relieves cramping. Compared to strenuous activity, moderate-intensity exercises are more beneficial to relieve PMS symptoms.
3. Watch your diet
Modifying your diet can help alleviate several PMS symptoms. Here are the dietary changes you should consider.
- Cut down on salt to relieve bloating, breast tenderness, and swelling.
- Eat leafy greens. These have iron and B vitamins that help ward fatigue off and improve sleep. Fruits provide the necessary dietary fiber and help get rid of bloating and cramps.
- Snack mindfully. Choose nuts instead of processed and packaged foods such as chips, candy bars, cakes, etc. Raw or roasted nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help you feel full longer.
- Choose complex carbs such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, unprocessed oats, lentils, etc. These foods enter the bloodstream slowly, preventing a sudden spike in insulin levels. It keeps your cravings under control and helps stabilize your mood.
- Drink more water as it helps reduce bloating and improve digestion issues. Instead of sipping tea and coffee, take smoothies, lemon water, buttermilk to prevent dehydration, sleep issues, and mood swings.
4. Relax more
Managing your stress and relaxation are significant to improving emotional imbalance because of hormonal changes. Spend some time alone, practice deep breathing, meditate, write a journal, get a massage, and read or watch content that makes you happy. Start your day an hour or 30 minutes earlier to avoid stress because of last-minute haste. Reverse affirmations and chanting may also help prevent emotional outbursts and manage mood swings better.
5. Take supplements
Adding Vitamin D, calcium, essential vitamins, and minerals to your diet helps promote a healthy menstrual cycle and prevents PMS symptoms. Vitamin D supplementation helps improve PMS symptoms such as backache, pain severity, and tendency to cry easily. Calcium and magnesium supplements assuage muscle cramps, fatigue, mood swings, bloating. Additionally, magnesium supplements work effectively for sleep problems and breast tenderness. B-vitamins have been linked to relieving psychological symptoms of PMS. For example, B6 helps release “happy neurotransmitters” that tend to go low during PMS.
6. Avoid smoking and alcohol: Research has shown that smoking worsens PMS symptoms. Nicotine affects neurocircuitry functions and increases susceptibility to environmental stressors. Similarly, alcohol consumption alters the level of hormones leading to an increase in the severity of PMS symptoms. According to a study, drinkers were 45% more likely to experience symptoms than non-drinkers. This grew to 79% for heavy drinkers.
What if natural remedies do not work?
It simply means that you should visit a gynecologist. In most cases, the doctor asks patients to undergo a few tests to diagnose the problem. While lifestyle changes are the first step of the treatment, your doctor may also prescribe medications. Painkillers, diuretics, and anti-depressants are commonly prescribed for treating moderate to severe PMS symptoms. For best results, follow your doctor’s advice diligently and incorporate healthy habits into your routine. Invest in a mHealth app if you are one of those who forget or skip eating healthy, drinking enough water, working put, and taking medicines.
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