As women, I'm sure everyone of us has been asked at least once “Is it that time of the month?” or “What is wrong with you, are you getting your period?”
Is there anything more aggrevating? Not really.
These questions have invalidated womens emotions for decades.
Society tirelessly jokes about women's heightened emotions during the lead up to a menstrual cycle, but we need to stop; PMS IS REAL and it's not funny.
Just like we have hormones that are responsible for controlling our blood sugar levels, (like insulin) and others for promoting positive feelings, (such as serotonin and endorphins) hormones are responsible for body and mood changes prior to a period.
Pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS happens in the days after ovulation and prior to menstruation when estrogen and progesterone levels begin falling dramatically.
These changes can result in serotonin deficiency, causing mood and physical symptoms.
PMS can vary from woman to woman, but common complaints include: bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, irritability and mood swings.
Most PMS is manageable, however up to 8% of women suffer from debilitating PMS which is known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD.
PMDD is a very serious, life-altering condition in which women suffer severe symptoms during the luteal phase of the cycle.
For some women PMDD can start or worsen after giving birth.
Women with a personal or family history of depression, postpartum depression, or other mood disorders are at an increased risk of developing PMDD.
Symptoms can include:
Lasting irritability or anger that may affect other people
Feelings of sadness, depression and suicidal thoughts
Anxiety & panic attacks
Mood swings or crying often
Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
Cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain
Conventional treatments for PMDD involve anti-depressants and birth control pills,
but there are some other things you can do to balance your hormones and relieve your symptoms:
Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine - Chinese Medicine views PMDD as an imbalance within the body, generally Qi (energy) stagnation within the Liver meridian. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine help to remove energy blockages and in turn stabilise hormonal fluctuations.
Nutrition - Your diet should be full of foods that support healthy hormone balance and reduce inflammation such as organic vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seaweed, fish and hormone free meats. Alcohol, processed foods, caffeine, sugar and commercial meats should be removed from the diet entirely.
Exercise - Exercise helps improves blood circulation, calms the nervous system and causes endorphin release - all of this helps to reduce pain and relieve emotional symptoms.
Stress Reduction - Stress can cause hormonal imbalances and worsen PMDD symptoms. Making time to de-stress and using stress reduction techniques that work for you can be helpful. Some great stress reducing activities can include meditation, yoga, Qi Gong or bush-walking; find what works for you and make the time to make your health a priority.
As women we are hormonal, cyclical beings. We need to work with our cycles not against them.
Our bodies have different needs and capabilities throughout each phase of the cycle.
During the pre menstrual phase we must honour our bodies need for rest and relaxation, in turn helping us to balance our hormones and reduce PMDD or PMS symptoms.
Sara Laharnar is the owner of Tree of Vida Acupuncture, a womens health clinic on the Mid North Coast close to Forster & Taree. She is a passionate acupuncturist/herbalist dedicated to womens health, fertility and pregnancy support.