Over 80% of women suffer from uncomfortable symptoms before and during their periods.
Wow! It’s not a surprise the medical community has been responding with “that’s just part of being a woman, deal with it.” As woman, we are starting a new conversation about our menstrual cycle and PMS (premenstrual syndrome.) Periods without PMS is possible.
PMS and cramps are not part of being a woman and you can pop something except drugs.
I have heard so many unbelievable myths about periods— it effects all woman and every month, it only refers to hormonal mood swings, nothing can be done about it. I would say most of the women I talk to believe one period myth and it’s because we are not talking about periods enough, or have the right education.
The biggest myth of all: PMS and cramping are normal, and there’s nothing you can do about it. More than 80-percent of women report significant PMS and menstrual cramping, which makes those conditions incredibly common, but they are NOT normal. You’re probably thinking, “not my cramps!” Yeah girl, your cramps too. Every aspect of your menstrual cycle—the length, volume of blood, color of blood, timing of ovulation, basal body temperatures, PMS, and cramping—gives you important information about your health and provides a valuable feedback mechanism to measure your progress in getting healthier.
WHAT IS PMS
First off, it’s important we talk about what PMS is and what it isn’t. PMS is a cluster of symptoms that can occur from ovulation, usually about two weeks after your period, until your period starts again. It relates to your body’s response to hormonal fluctuations, which can involve breast tenderness, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, mood changes, irritability, migraines, fatigue, cravings, anxiety, and insomnia. During the end of your cycle, your body does some heavy lifting to break down extra hormones still floating around the bloodstream. If everything is working ideally, these hormones are processed by the liver and cleared efficiently, resulting in a PMS-free cycle. Therefore, you can gain benefits from take medication (which toxify the liver more) or herbs but they don’t get to the root of PMS-free cycle.
FOOD IMBALANCERS + SOLUTIONS
Food absolutely can affect your reproductive health, but it’s not just what you put in your mouth that matters, you are what you digest. A strong digestive system means that your body is efficient at breaking food down into components that it can actually use. If you tend to have digestive issues or have a lot of food sensitivities, it’s important to address these first to make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need. After you’ve made sure your gut is in check, you’ll want to be sure you are eating a wide range of seasonal, organic foods as the foundation for a healthy cycle.
It’s impossible to always make the right choice, especially when we are PMS-ing, but here are a few foods that PMS and cramp sufferers might want to especially avoid:
Caffeine I know that getting out of bed on your period is hard enough, but it’s been shown that caffeine can make PMS worse. Caffeine causes your blood vessels to constrict, including the ones that supply blood to the uterus, which can make cramps even more killer. Caffeine may also increase irritability, which is usually the last thing you need this time of the month.
Alcohol When it comes to your period problems, alcohol is on the no-no list. Alcohol inhibits hormone regulation, so it can intensify both PMS and cramping. It also slows the emptying of the stomach, potentially increasing bloating. Worse, alcohol is dehydrating, so it can cause you to retain even more water, and you could end up with a hangover and PMS.
Salt Salty foods only exacerbates bloating, by increasing water retention.
Red meat and dairy They contain arachidonic acids that stimulate prostaglandins and intensify cramps. It is common for women to crave iron-rich foods premenstrually, but you can get your fix from veggie-based sources like chickpeas, beans, and lentils.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates All inflammatory foods will make your PMS and cramping worse, but perhaps the biggest red flags are sugar and refined carbohydrates. They contribute to fatigue and bloating, and can impact estrogen, testosterone, and serotonin levels. Because they also impact blood sugar regulation, carbs can worsen the highs and lows of your PMS mood swings. Step away from the cupcake and no one gets hurt.
I promise I’m not here to make your life miserable, though. There are a few healing indulgences that can legitimately make PMS and your period more bearable:
Avocado I know that I always crave something fatty like ice cream on my period. Avocado is great for satisfying those fat cravings in a totally healthy way. Plus, avocado contains plenty of potassium (more than a banana) which can help reduce cramping.
Chocolate Yes, dark chocolate is totally good for you (in moderation). Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which is a great mineral for helping to decrease cramps. Eating chocolate can also release serotonin, which increases feelings of wellbeing. Here are three words that will change your life: avocado chocolate mousse. It’s easy to make, feels indulgent, and is perfect for combating period blues.
Almonds Soak them overnight. Eat them a few days before your period and three days into your menstruation. This will add Vitamin E and magnesium.
NSAID TO INFLUENCE PMS PAIN + ALTERNATIVE
NSAID (a group of medicines that include aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, and mefenamic acid) is a go to for period pain that can be reasonably effective.
There has been recent scholarly literature showing food - such as, cinnamon and fish oil - had a larger reduction in PMS symptoms in comparison to NSAIDS. Also, long term use of NSAIDS can worsen the problem by putting strain on your liver and exacerbate hormonal imbalances.
I believe that women deserve effective pain relief—without the risk of severe side effects.
Here are two picks for healthy, pain-free PMS.
Clary Sage essential oil Rub above the pubic bone and below the belly button (where your uterus is.) You can also put some drops in your bath. This helps relieve cramps.
Hot Water Bottle Wrap it with an oversized scarf and you can massage castor oil in those cramping areas.