The female body is a marvelous thing; however, despite its wonder and beauty, once a month, it goes through absolute…well, let’s just say it isn’t very fun. And it isn’t really a once-a-month thing, either. In actuality, the female body is continuously changing over the course of a month. Hormone levels are in constant flux. From day one of her cycle, estrogen levels begin to increase, the uterine walls thicken, and hormone levels increase to prepare for ovulation. Once ovulation has occurred, and provided no fertilization has occurred, hormone levels drop, the egg breaks apart, and the thickened uterus lining is shed. Then it starts all over again. Repeat until menopause, barring any pregnancy-related disruptions.
The fact that our bodies are on this perpetual hormone-related roller coaster means there really is no “normal”. When not experiencing the painful effects of our periods themselves, there is always the pre- and post-hormonal flux to hit us right in the psychoses.
For many, “normal” can include tension, anxiety, depression, crying spells, mood swings, irritability, anger, cravings or loss of appetite, insomnia, social withdrawal, inability to concentrate, joint or muscle pain, headaches, fatigue, wait gain, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, acne, and even constipation or diarrhea.
Everyone’s body reacts a bit differently and because our hormone levels, physical and mental states are continuously changing, our symptoms can vary from month-to-month.
One thing is certain: PMS and period symptoms can be extremely disruptive and extremely unpleasant, if not physically or mentally painful.
Natural Methods to Manage Symptoms
Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can help you manage your symptoms without having to cram a bunch of chemicals into your body that may also cause a fluctuation of effects.
- Acupuncture, Naturopathic Medicine, Massage Therapy, and Herbs– Seeking care from complementary health treatments such as acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, and massage therapy is a highly effective way to help regulate menstrual cycles, reduce stress, influence hormone regulation, and improve blood flow in the reproductive areas. Traditional Chinese Medicine provides an excellent means to manage your health and relieve symptoms of PMS gently and naturally.
- Improve your Diet- Your period takes a lot out of your body. Literally, your body needs extra vitamins and nutrients to get through, which means it can leave you more than a little deficient at the end. Do you ever wonder why you seem to get sick right around your period? Ensuring your body is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs can go a long way towards calming and regulating the monthly horror. A lot of the time, the most unpleasant of symptoms can actually occur because our bodies are missing key vitamins or nutrients. A few to watch out for: iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and the Omega oils. As always, it is best to check with your doctor to find out what your iron levels (etc.) are in case you need to incorporate a supplement into your diet.
Cutting back on sodium can help a lot, too. Sodium leads to bloating, which means it can make the monthly bloat a lot more uncomfortable.
- Drink Tea- There are a lot of herbal formulations that can help with the symptoms—and even the pain—of PMS and menstruation. Plus, drinking tea keeps you hydrated and having extra fluids in your body can help ease bloating and replenish your body as it fights to regulate those hormones.
- Exercise- Exercise can help balance out some of the mood-altering effects of PMS, but keeping it low-impact is best, especially for bodies that are having a rough time with all those hormone fluctuations. Go for a walk, boosting vitamin D while exercising to balance blood sugar, etc. can be the best medicine and it can help you sleep at night. There are also a number of yoga poses and stretches that can help ease your cramps.
- Sleep- Finding a way to get regular sleep goes a long way towards regulating your fluctuating hormones. Take a nice long bath with Epsom salts, drink a cup of caffeine-free lemon tea, grab a hot water bottle, and catch a few extra hours of sleep until it’s over.