What is PMS anyway?

If you’re a person who gets their period, chances are you’ve probably experienced the mood sings and food cravings that come with PMS. You might be happily relaxing on the couch watching Gossip Girl when you’re suddenly overcome with a wave of emotion that leaves you in blubbering tears over one of Serena and Blair’s petty tiffs. Or perhaps you’ve felt the white hot rage of not being able to find a matching sock in the morning, only to have your period arrive the next day, leaving you wondering if the missing sock was a reasonable excuse to start World War 3 in your house. Guilty! But what actually are those monthly emotions that hit us full force in the days leading up to out period? We’ve done a deep dive into all the ins and outs of PMS just for you, so cuddle up under your favourite blanket with a hot water bottle and block of chocolate and read on! 

What is PMS?

Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS is often a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that can be experienced up to 2 weeks before your period begins during ovulation. Symptoms of PMS can include bloating, headaches and moodiness and can be so severe that they miss work, school or social activities. More severe symptoms can be a sign of PMDD. Women in their 30s and 40s are also more likely to experience the symptoms of PMS. It is thought that PMS symptoms are experienced when after ovulation estrogen and progesterone levels fall dramatically if you have not become pregnant. Once your period begins your hormonal levels usually return to normal fairly quickly and the moodiness usually goes away within a day or two. PMS goes away when you no longer menstruate, such as after menopause, so that’s definitely something to look forward to! Up to 3 in 4 women people who menstruate will experience symptoms of PMS at some point in their but you may be predisposed to PMS if you have high level of stress, a family history of depression or a personal history of post partum depression.

The Symptoms

PMS symptoms are usually mild, but can sometimes inhibit sufferers from carrying out their daily routines. Symptoms have been known to include:

  • Swollen or tender breasts
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Bloating or a gassy feeling
  • Cramping
  • Headache or backache
  • Clumsiness
  • Lower tolerance for noise or light
  • Irritability or hostile behaviour
  • Feeling tired
  • Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Appetite changes or food cravings
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Tension or anxiety
  • Depression, feelings of sadness, or crying spells
  • Mood swings

If you’re thinking that’s a long list, it most certainly is! If you’re feeling like the symptoms of PMS are disrupting your everyday life, speak to your doctor about your experiences.

Relieving Symptoms

In the days leading up to your weekend you’ll definitely want to take extra special care of yourself. Doctors recommend getting regular physical exercise throughout the month which can ease symptoms of depression, difficulty concentrating and fatigue. Unfortunately, doctors also recommend eating healthy and avoiding foods high in caffeine, salt and sugar. You and I know that’s just not possible and you should be able to treat yourself, without shame, of all times especially when Aunt Flo comes knocking. One recommendation we can get on board with is getting enough sleep. Aim for 8 hours a night and avoid screens an hour before bed. Lack of sleep is linked to depression and anxiety so please make sure you’re getting tonnes of shut eye to keep that PMS at bay. If all else fails and you are feeling moody, sad or angry just before surfing the crimson wave find healthy ways to cope with that stress. These might include yoga, massage or meditation or whatever activity makes you feel good about yourself!

Alicia Franceschini

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