PMS – It’s not just feeling irritable
PMS can seem like a never ending disruption to our month, sometimes it feels like more days that not are taken up with feeling irritable, teary and snappy. Most of us have experienced this to some degree, but if you feel it’s lasting more than a just a few days before your period arrives or the symptoms feel particularly intense it could be time to seek help.
PMS doesn’t just affect mood either, it also encompasses:
- Breast tenderness
- Pre-menstrual headaches
- Sugar cravings
- Brain fog
You are not alone with these feelings, most women have suffered with PMS at some point, you don’t need to suffer in silence and think it’s something that you just have to put up with as it’s really not. Premenstrual Syndrome fortunately can be helped by natural solutions including Homeopathy; it makes me so happy when clients report a significant decrease in their symptoms before their periods after a course of homeopathic remedies.
When does PMS occur?
These symptoms can happen any time in the 10-14 day run up to your period (i.e. after you have ovulated and you are in your luteal phase) and should disappear with the arrival of your period or shortly after.
In your monthly cycle your hormones are in a delicate dance, during your follicular phase (pre ovulation) you will have more estrogen and during your luteal phase (post ovulation) your progesterone should naturally rise. Sometimes these hormones will go out of balance and PMS symptoms can be magnified.
What causes PMS?
One of the causes of PMS is low progesterone, i.e. your ovaries aren’t producing enough progesterone in the second half of your cycle, if you make sufficient amounts it will mean a calmer lead up to your period. There are two reasons you may not be making enough Progesterone:
- Short luteal phase (the phase between ovulation and your next period) if this is often short you probably are not making enough Progesterone to feel soothed and calm. Stress can impact progesterone production, if we produce excess cortisol it will decrease levels of progesterone leaving us feeling more stressed. During Peri-menopause we also produce less progesterone and can have a shorter luteal phase and experience and intensification of PMS symptoms.
The second cause of low progesterone is:
- An anovulatory cycle, this is where no ripe egg was produced from the ovaries, so you will not have made progesterone during that cycle. Anovulatory cycles, can be normal every now and then but if you think you are regularly having them you should talk to your Doctor, especially if you wish to try for a baby. The only sure way to know if you have ovulated is by a consistent rise in body temperate in the two weeks before your period. Other signs include increased libido, fertile mucus, cervix changes, pelvic twinge and breast tenderness. Ovulation is key to Progesterone production, and if you have a healthy amount of progesterone you will have less or no PMS.
Tip: You can ask your Doctor to test your progesterone levels, the best day to do this is on day 21 of your cycle.
Excess estrogen is another cause of PMS, if you have too much estrogen then you are also likely making too little progesterone. Excess estrogen can be caused by your ovaries producing too much of it, this usually happens during Peri-menopause. Decreased progesterone levels and excess estrogen together can amplify PMS type tension, feelings of irritability, rage plus other PMS symptoms of heavy periods, headaches, breast tenderness, cysts, insomnia and difficulty loosing weight.
Another cause of excess estrogen is your liver not adequately detoxifying it from the body. It will be hindered by lack of key nutrients, endocrine disrupting chemicals or by the presence of alcohol for example. Estrogen is also detoxified through your bowel, and for this to happen effectively you need healthy gut bacteria. Some homeopathic remedies that help with PMS symptoms also support and gently detoxify the gut and liver.
If you feel you have symptoms of excess estrogen then you can ask your Doctor to test if for you, again this can be done on day 21 along with progesterone levels.
Many women that come to see me are surprised by their PMS symptoms after stopping hormonal contraceptives. The Pill completely shuts off your natural hormone production you see. So some women find their body struggles to produce the right amounts of hormones again after they come off birth control which can then have a knock on effect on periods, mood and cause heightened PMS symptoms.
You may wish to check out my blog on periods for more information on what a typical cycle should be like. It will explain some of the terminology I’m using in more detail.
Are there any natural solutions?
There are lots of things you can do to help with PMS, balancing your hormones and help you feel calmer and more balanced.
- Homeopathy – I often see women with PMS. We take the time to go through each of your symptoms, discover why you might have PMS, which hormones are out of balance, what are your periods like, have you previously been on hormonal birth control and what else is going in with you? I then come up with a targeted, holistic and individualised remedy plan.
- Vitex Agnus Castus – This herb is proven to increase progesterone levels and decrease PMS. This wonder herb is actually contained in the ‘Female’ Homeobotanical blend (along with other herbs) which has helped clients with PMS, periods and peri-menopausal problems.
- Magnesium – Improves PMS greatly, I always recommend a good magnesium glycinate alongside Homeopathy to my clients.
- B Vitamins, especially B6 – have all been shown to increase progesterone levels and decrease PMS symptoms.
- Zinc – This helps lower inflammation and histamine and increases progesterone
- Exercise – Whether it be yoga, running or just getting out for a brisk walk in the fresh air. Anything that helps lower stress and cortisol levels will help decrease your PMS symptoms.
- Caffeine – Linked to PMS symptoms it increases cortisol levels which in turn blocks progesterone production.
- Alcohol – The presence of alcohol in your liver means your body finds it hard to remove estrogen from the body which increases anxiety and mood swings.
- Sugar – Lowers magnesium levels in your body, and as mentioned above magnesium helps PMS symptoms. Plus it affects gut and liver health.
- Dairy – Can trigger the release of histamine, reduce or cut out to improve PMS.
- Sleep – Extremely important for hormone and period health, you need a solid 7-8 hours per night if possible. Sleep stabilises cortisol production and HPA axis function (hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands). If your HPA axis is out of balance you can feel chronically stressed.
- Xenosterogen’s – cut down on these chemicals which mimic estrogen and can be found in things like plastics, face creams and cosmetics. Be really careful about what you put on and in your body and what you eat and drink out of! Many studies show that xenotrogens cause high estrogen like symptoms.
- Phytoestrogens – Are natural estrogen-like substances found in foods such as tofu, lentils and vegetables. Eat these to calm excess estrogen and metabolise it too.
Isn’t it great that there are so many natural ways you can help your PMS symptoms? Maybe start by picking 2-3 things to try for a few weeks then add in some more to see what works for you.
If you feel that you can relate to any of this blog and would like to find out how homeopathy can help you, then please do get in touch to organise a free 30 minute discovery call. I also offer hormonal health packages.