How to Get Relief From PMS
Did you know that almost 85% of women experience at least some symptoms of PMS? I’m one of those women and I bet you are, too. While some of us experience more severe symptoms than others, it is possible for us to get relief from PMS – and to do it without prescriptions medications and the side effects they bring.
PMS is Bad. Medication Side Effects are Worse.
I carried my PMS around like a trophy.
“No, I don’t want to go to the movies tonight, I have PMS.”
“I want a second candy bar. I have PMS.”
“I’m fat today. I have PMS.”
“I’m only crying because I have PMS.”
It got tiresome. During the last two weeks of my cycle each month, I couldn’t function enough to both care for the children and keep the house clean. I noticed that my commitment to gentle parenting wavered during the last two weeks of my cycle. I kept a calendar of my cycle and made sure to point out to my husband each month that we were entering the PMS weeks and to not take personally any negativity I spewed his way during this time.
Finally, my PMS progressed to the point of PMDD. My gynecologist prescribed Zoloft, which helped tremendously. Unfortunately, it did nothing about the root cause of PMS, it merely treated the symptoms. I was not convinced that the medication was a good long-term solution. The relief from PMS was bliss, but it mellowed me to the point that I was emotionally numb most of the time.
The Estrogen Dominance and PMS Link
In my quest to get relief from PMS naturally I discovered that I have estrogen dominance. We’ll talk more about how I remedied my estrogen dominance later in this article. I read a great book called Quit PMS: End Your Menstrual Misery. All of the information I had found after years of researching PMS relief is all in one place! This book is a gem. In addition to the valuable information about the role of diet and stress-management in PMS, author Lauren Geertsen of Empowered Sustance lays out a plan for quitting PMS. She explains estrogen dominance, the role of macronutrients, good and bad period foods, the importance of detox and elimination and so much more.
You should understand that PMS is not a normal condition that women should expect to just deal with. PMS is a syndrome and is dysfunctional. You don’t have to live with it. If PMS is causing you grief, there is a way out that does not include popping prescription pills.
4 Ways to Get Relief from PMS Naturally
While prescription medications were an option for me at one point, my goal was to find the underlying cause of my PMS, why it had become severe (PMDD) and how to heal my body so that I could be rid of PMS for good.
The following four things were critical for me on my journey to get relief from PMS naturally.
Start Tracking Your Cycle TODAY
Tracking your cycle will help you and your doctor to determine if your issues are truly PMS or PMDD-related or if you’re suffering from other emotional or physical challenges. Get a notebook and start journaling your symptoms today – even if you don’t have any.
Here’s my story of how keeping track of symptoms helped me to get relief from PMS:
When I was a teenager I noticed that while I could sometimes have a bad day, but deal with it move on, at other times I would feel sad or angry without cause. Everything in my life would be just great, but I’d still feel swallowed up by despair.
I’ve was pretty nerdy back then (some things haven’t changed) and, having a strong interest in psychology, personality and biology, I decide to track these seemingly unpredictable moods to look for patterns. At the time, my hypothesis was that my moods had something to do with color or the weather.
I’d just read a book about how color affects our moods and thought maybe what I wore to school that day might be setting me up for a mood swing! And, of course, it’s no secret that sometimes people feel down on gray and rainy days, right?
I happened to start tracking my mood during the middle of the last two weeks of my cycle. I was feeling blue at the time but had no idea why. My grades were good, my parents and I were getting along, I had great friends but still had plenty of the “introvert time” that was important to my functioning then and now.
So, I wrote it all down. Or, in reality, I wrote, after listing the date at the top of the page, “My life is great, but I feel like crying. Nothing makes me happy, but I can’t find a reason that I should be sad.”
The depression continued and I continued to record it until the day my period began. On that day I wrote, “Aunt Flo came today. I checked out of school because the cramps were so bad. It seems like every other month they are so bad that they make me nauseated from the pain.”
And then for several days, I wrote nothing in my mood journal. The fog of depression had lifted and I had forgotten about it. When I saw the notebook in my desk drawer one evening while doing homework, I opened it to a new page, wrote the date at the top and entered, “I feel happy and life is good.” And, for about two weeks, it was.
When I felt the depression set in, I opened my journal and recorded it. When I felt the depression lift, I recorded it again. After the second month, I saw the pattern. I continued to journal, to circle days on the calendar and to pay close attention to my moods and any events in my life that might contribute to my moods.
Then one day I told my mom, “I have PMS.” She dryly welcomed me to her world and that was that.
My symptom-tracking experience led to a life-long habit of self-awareness that was the foundation of getting relief from PMS naturally.
Eat a Real Food Diet
In my 30s, I experienced a host of health issues caused by a stressful lifestyle and a standard American diet. I feared that I would eventually need more and more medications to escape the discomfort and danger of my conditions. I knew that eating a real food diet was my first step to getting relief from PMS and my other health conditions.
Within two months of beginning a real food diet, I was off all of my medications and had begun to lose weight. My PMS lessened within the first three months. I could tell noticeable differences in my mood and physical symptoms on a daily basis – whether those differences were positive or negative – related to the foods I’d consumed recently.
As I’ve talked about in other posts (like the one where I stopped my IBS naturally) cutting wheat and sugar from my diet were key changes. Now I am able to eat some wheat, but I try not to eat it everyday or my symptoms (from PMS to IBS) return in varying degrees.
If you’re not sure what a real food diet actually consists of (it’s not soy milk, fat-free yogurt and tofu, mamas) check out Nina Planck’s Real Food: What to Eat and Why. It’s a must have for anyone beginning a real food diet.
Use a Progesterone Cream or Serum
Upon learning that I had symptoms of estrogen dominance with low progesterone I bought a high-quality progesterone cream. (I used this one.) I liked it and felt like it got the job done for a time. However, there were rules about when to use it and how much to use. It was also uncomfortable in the summer when I didn’t want use lotion or cream.
Fortunately, I discovered a wonderful progesterone serum called Progessence Plus (it’s from Young Living only – find out how to join Young Living here.) I add it to my homemade anti-aging moisturizer and apply it to my face. I also apply a little to my inner forearms. It has a lovely, light scent.
Progessence Plus contains micronized progesterone and helps to support the balance of my hormonal system beautifully. I can use it every day and don’t have to stick to a particular cycle of use and non-use.
Practice Mindfulness and Reduce Stress
You probably knew this was coming. I’m sorry, mamas, but it’s an unavoidable fact that stress will increase negative symptoms associated with any chronic condition you have. PMS is no exception. You must reduce and manage your stress if you want to feel better.
In order to reduce stress, try these three things each day:
Remember step one where I told you to track your symptoms – this is why. If you’re not mindful and self-aware, you’ll miss the messages your body is sending you and you’ll never see the patterns. When you track your cycle, you’ll know for example, that on cycle day 20 you usually feel tired and cranky. When you know to expect a symptom, you can get out ahead of it.
Ask for Help
I know that many of you don’t like to delegate or ask for help. When your body is busy in the last two weeks of your cycle preparing for a pregnancy (that may or may not happen), you need to give yourself a break. That may mean asking others to take on some of your responsibilities.
This is the time to call in your partner, your family or your friends to help with the children or to help you relax with a fun outing. You can repay the favor when you’re in the middle of your cycle and feeling energetic and vibrant.
Indulge Yourself Daily
In the last two weeks of your cycle, indulge yourself daily. Whether it’s a piece of good chocolate, a hot bath, a puzzle, a coloring book, or engaging in a hobby like music, photography, art, etc, make time at least once per day to be alone for at least 20 minutes (preferably longer!) and do something you love.