This is for those who suffers gnar PMS. I know girls who don’t go out when they’re PMS-ing because of how dangerous it is for others. It can be confusing and rob you of yourself! I hope to give you some background info about how to prep for PMS (basically all the info I could find on the internet). If you’re a severe sufferer you likely know all this stuff, but hopefully you’ll read something helpful or at the very least– guilt-relieving.
Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion on some preventative PMS practices but for the love of GOD, consult your doctor before taking any supplements. I’m not a nutritionist and I don’t have any training in this area – of any kind. If anything, use this as a starting point for your own personal research.
Part 1: The What
Intense PMS and hormonal shifts that make you feel crazy. Hormones are a bitch. They can make you feel out of control in all sorts of situations – from feeling attached and in love – to bawling your eyes out for what might or might not be a good reason– to screaming at someone you care about, for a very small made up reason.
It compromises your rational, cool, calm happy self to a position that feels, well, borderline dangerous. I know people who don’t go out when they’re PMS-ing because of how dangerous it is for others they love. So here is some background info about it – including all the info I could find on the internet. If you’re a severe sufferer you likely know all this stuff, but I will include some other stuff that you might not know. So hopefully something good or at least guilt-relieving will come out of this.
Part 2: The Why
Some look at the female cycle as a natural purging method – when all the unvented emotions are flushed out. So these emotions are “real” but unknown: the cut off parts of ourselves. I’m not sure if I’d agree entirely with this concept, since hormones can make you believe opposite things. For example, there’s an episode of This American Life called Testosterone that this all about how the hormone changed one person’s entire focus in life, while transitioning. It changed her personality because of what her body was driven by: sex. So I’d say think of PMS as your body and emotions on the extreme setting. Just like hormones can make you bond to a baby, they can make you hate a spouse. Sure, on some level it’s anger that has been unvented– however, it is exacerbated because of the imbalances. Like your anger on crack. It doesn’t mean the feelings don’t exist or they’re not from you – but they are heightened to extremes that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
For a lot of people, PMS tends to get worse as you get older. It often comes with gifts like acne, weight-gain, water-weight gain, depression, fatigue, anxiety, cravings, severe bouts of rage followed by crying. What’s happening is your hormones are doing loopty-loops – your estrogen levels go up, your progesterone levels go down. And there are specific things that trigger it: if you’re stressed out, you drink a lot of alcohol, or you don’t exercise regularly, or you have a lot of caffeine. Also, consuming anything cow: beef and dairy can worsen it because of all the hormones (I don’t know about other kinds of milk). Not to mention “xenoestrogens” – chemicals found in numerous personal hygiene and household products, things like parabens in skin products – and pesticides in foods. These affect your estrogen levels. There are too many xenoestrogens to list here but here’s a link to more info. Another major factor is whether or not you eat organic fruits and vegetables. PMS is effected by the toxins you absorb.
This is all super important especially when you get into adulthood, because your hormone regulation is weighted more heavily in your adrenal glands. You want to support your adrenal glands by balancing your body before you are in a state of PMS. Stress is a big one because cortisol taxes your system and therefore your other hormone production is compromised. It’s also dangerous for reasons tied to illness – they call it estrogen dominance, and it can lead to things like cancer. You want to make your hormones stable and not crazy – so no crash dieting around your period, either. You can get tested for estrogen dominance at your doctor’s office or a naturopath’s office – it’s a saliva test – and if you test for estrogen dominance, you can take more dramatic steps to regulate it.
Part 3: The HOW: The tools
(These are super basic.)
Tool 1: Exercise.
At least 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times a week. Long enough to get your heart rate up.
Tool 2: Take probiotics.
Your gut bacteria helps you balance out and shed the impurities. Constipation and imbalances in the gut bacteria can worsen the situation, because they lead to the reabsorption of estrogen from the gut back into your blood, even after your liver has tried to get rid of it. These are hugely helpful for just balance in general. And they help you rid yourself of toxins. My favorite brand is Flora Udo’s Super 8 (what my naturopath recommended).
Tool 3: Clean up your diet!
Stop your intake of refined sugars, refined carbs, non-hormone free meats and dairy, and try to eat organic as often as possible. Why? Pesticides exacerbate this issue. Alcohol counts as a suger! It also prevents your body from excreting excess estrogen. And if this sounds crazy to you – then do it for at least the week before you get your period.
Eat organic animal products to avoid environmental estrogens from hormones and pesticides. Cut out caffeine, stop drinking alcohol – at least a week before you PMS and during your cycle.
Balance your blood sugar by eating protein, and eat more omega 3’s. Basically because we get an excess of omegas 6’s in corn and everything uses corn oils, our bodies are out of whack. We need the other omega 3’s – specifically EPA and DHA – mostly the EPA. So aim to take 1000 mg of EPA a day and 500 of DHA. That’s what I take anyway.
Tool 4: Supplements!
Take supplements to help your regular metabolism and your hormonal metabolism. This is a link to a doctor’s website – Dr. Hyman, no less! Basically that site is where the majority of this research comes from, where he lists more supplements. I will only list the ones I personally use:
- EPA and DHA – omega 3 fatty acids. Make sure you’re buying molecularly-distilled. I buy the Nordic Naturals Brand and I take 1,000 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA a day. This is also great for depression!
- Vitex Chastberry, this also helps your cycle become more regular, which helps is you’re trying to conceive!
- B6 and B12. All the sources matter so choose a good brand that’s organic and not derived from a construction site. I recommend Garden of Life and Now Naturals.
Tool 5: Tackle your stress and any depression.
Just like you want to get your body moving, you want to release your stress, so things like meditation, yoga, breathing, hiking, laughing, cooking, nature…do whatever works for you to get your balance in mental awareness, back. PMS can also aggravate underlying depression so consider seeing a therapist and get lots of sun and take your fish oil!
….And because family and friends are the greatest casualty of PMS, here are a few ways to warn them during and before they are injured. Basically put your symptoms in the box that separates them from your personality.
Tool 6: Cover it with Warning Labels!
If you are in a rage state, make sure to cover it somewhere with your warning: also I am super cranky! You might want to get out of here because I’m super hormonal. Another way to remember this is narration about the state you’re in. As best you can.
Tool 7: Soften the blow.
Basically take some pragmatic steps toward slowing down your communications. Sometimes things come out less intensely if you type them (just because you are not using volume), so for example, try emailing things when you’re PMS-ing. If you can create a delay for yourself – I use Boomerang, this sends my emails out in 10 minutes or an hour. This means I can edit things I know are too mean. Ask yourself when reviewing emails: Is this something I can say, tomorrow? Alternately you can tell someone else to tell a person, for you. Basically give yourself a buffer of any shape or form.
Tool 8: The Rational Scale of Extremity.
This is good to use when you’re hyper-emotional and can’t literally tell if you should be mad or not. Draw a line on a piece of paper. Make notches from 1 to 10. Write down the worst thing you can imagine that would enrage you at 10, then write the mildest thing you can imagine at 1. For example, “Giving me a weak handshake.” All the way to, “Cheating on me.” When you look at this list, where does this thing fall? If it’s below the 50% mark you must wait to bring it up until you are in a calm state. OR give it at least 12 hours. Write everything you want to say in full form, in an email and send it to yourself.
It is worth changing your diet habits before moving on to medical therapies, because you are less likely to have side effects. I suggest you try alternative therapies and try them in combinations before you go on any meds – mainly because you have to take the meds forever and the results, in my humble opinion, are vague at best. Why not try something like acupuncture, first? Also suggested in my research were homeopathic treatments, which I myself, have never tried. But for now, keep it simple! Try to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains the week before your period. And get lots of exercise and rest. Cut down on your exposure to toxins of all kinds including herbicides, plastics, bleaches and bleached products, solvents, etc. And above all, try to let go of the shame and guilt – remind yourself you are a good person, coming from love and trying your best in the midst of a chemical storm.
I wanted to include links to helpful resources in one spot:
Clue is an app/period tracker that a few ladies sent me after the podcast went live. I haven’t tried it myself but it seems rad! Also a listener recommended baths with lavender.
Here’s Dr. Hyman, the main resource for this article.
Smile lovely friends!