Premenstrual Syndrome: Hormones Causing Havoc

If your PMS symptoms are getting the better of you, it's time to get some help.

If your PMS symptoms are getting the better of you, it's time to get some help.

Most women experience some kind of premenstrual concern.  It may be the norm, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal.  Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) comes with a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Moodiness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Water retention
  • Bloating
  • Acne
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Bowel movement irregularity

There are varying degrees of PMS and not all women will experience the exact same symptoms.

Thankfully with a little dietary and lifestyle modifications alongside basic nutritional support, you may be able to say goodbye to those unpleasant side effects of menstruation.  Here are a few tips to help lessen your PMS symptoms.

Support proper elimination

The liver is responsible for breaking down and eliminating hormones in our body.  When the liver is overworked (as is the case in many of us), this natural process of elimination gets clogged.  Supporting proper elimination means providing support for the liver’s three phases of elimination to convert fat-soluble hormones into water-soluble byproducts that can be properly eliminated through the kidneys and colon.  In addition, encouraging regular bowel movements will help ensure that these hormone byproducts actually get eliminated instead of recycled back into the body. 

Balance your blood sugar levels

It’s not uncommon to see patient’s PMS symptoms completely go away or significantly diminish once they have limited sugar consumption.  A general rule is to limit sugar to <25g/day, which is 5 teaspoons daily.  This includes sugary drinks, fruit juices, refined foods, protein bars, cakes, pastries and the like.  I also recommend limiting fruit consumption to no more than two servings daily and choosing lower-sugar options like raspberries, blackberries and watermelon.  Limiting caffeine and alcohol as well as increasing protein and reducing total carbohydrate intake can also help balance blood sugar levels.  Following a whole foods dietary plan can help ensure that you’re consuming foods that will be friendly to blood sugar balancing.

Exercise!

A number of small studies have shown that implementing a consistent exercise routine can help with PMS symptoms.  Exercise helps reduce stress levels and can help boost your mood with the release of all those amazing endorphins.  Aerobic exercise seems to provide the greatest results for PMS although a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise is recommended.  And of course there’s always yoga, which has shown to be incredibly beneficial for reducing stress, levelling out mood and contributing to overall health and wellness.  Aim for 180 minutes per week of aerobic activity in the form of running, biking, swimming, walking or whatever your favourite aerobic sport may be.

Not all women will respond to treatment the same way and some cases will require a multidisciplinary approach, as is the case with more severe forms to PMS, like premenstrual dystrophic disorder (PMDD).  The above recommendations are general guidelines and it’s important to consult your health care provider before implementing any dietary recommendations and/or exercise routines to ensure that it’s the best option for you and your health.