When it comes to ‘that time’ of the month, many women are familiar with the things that come with it.
These include Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or Premenstrual Tension (PMT).
In fact, PMS is felt by almost all women at some point during their lives. Usually, it’s accompanied by snarky comments from you and others, about your prickly behaviour and short fuse.
“Don’t talk to me and don’t piss me off – I’m premenstrual!”
“Jeez, she’s a bit bitchy – must be PMS!”
Well, while we are happy to hear people joke about it. Sometimes, there’s nothing to be done but to get through it. For some women, PMS is definitely not a laughing matter, and it can even become debilitating.
What is PMS?
Essentially, PMS is a blanket term used to describe the variety of symptoms that up to 90% of women can experience in the 2 weeks prior to their periods being due. For some women, the symptoms are few and not all that severe, but for others, PMS is a serious issue, one that disrupts everyday life.
Unfortunately, nobody is really sure exactly what the cause of PMS is, but it’s thought to be linked to hormonal changes in the body that occur just before your period. Some of the emotional and physical symptoms include:
- Abdominal bloating and fluid retention
- Depression and lowered mood
- Difficulties in concentration
- Digestive problems, including constipation and diarrhoea
- Drop in self-esteem and confidence
- Drop in libido, or (occasionally) an increase
- Feelings of loneliness and paranoia
- Food cravings
- Headache and migraine
- Hot flushes or sweats
- Increased appetite
- Irritability, including angry outbursts
- Mood swings and teariness
- Sleep changes, including insomnia or excessive sleepiness
- Swollen and tender breasts
- Weight increase
Many of these symptoms are similar to symptoms felt by expectant mothers during the early days of pregnancy, but in any case, they are quite annoying, and sometimes, even more than that. If you have PMS that is impacting on your life, it might be time to go and see a doctor.
Management of PMS
Even though health professionals aren’t quite sure what causes PMS, there are ways to manage. Some are more effective than others, and some methods might work for some women better than others. Certainly, it will depend on how much it impacts your life, and what your own beliefs and preferences are about long-term treatment options.
Here are just a few of the ways that people have been managing PMS symptoms. If you’re struggling with PMS, these might be worth a try.
1. Essential Oils
Some essential oils that can help alleviate symptoms include: chamomile, lemon balm, clary sage, geranium, lavender, neroli, sandalwood and ylang ylang. You can choose two or three of these and add a few drops of each to a bath, massage oil or oil burner (make sure you check our guide to essential oil safety first!)
2. Complimentary Treatments
Treatments such as bach flower remedies, remedial massage, acupuncture and reiki may be effective.
3. Lifestyle Change
Reduce smoking and consuming caffeine and alcohol during the two weeks before your period; get plenty of exercise and sleep; eat more fresh fruit and veggies and reduce sugar, salt and fat in your diet.
4. Take Supplements.
There are many supplements recommended by GPs, pharmacists and naturopaths which can help reduce PMS symptoms. These include: evening primrose oil, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin E, or chasteberry (chaste tree) extract.
5. Medical Treatment
In severe cases, prescribed medications are required. These include oral contraceptive pills or mood stabilisers and antidepressants.
In my own experience, PMS is not something you have to put up with. It is worth looking at all the different options, and persevering until you find the right one for you. PMS can be life-altering and incredibly annoying, but you can do something about it.
I have suffered PMS for years and have tried many different options, some which have worked and some which haven’t. The best thing I can recommend is that you keep a detailed diary of your symptoms and the treatment options you have tried so that you have some information for your doctor or naturopath. Then you can work forward from there!
*Nicole is SAHM’s Social Media Manager and is also an experienced Registered Nurse and Aromatherapist.
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. We have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice.
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.