Periods are something to be celebrated, however, PMS can often ruin the experience. Whether you’ve had several periods, or you are waiting for your period to begin, you’ve probably come across the term PMS. PMS stands for premenstrual symptom, and although it’s super common, there’s still a lot we don’t know about it.
No two people experience PMS the same way, so it’s important to learn as much as you can about PMS so you can be prepared for it when it arrives.
What Is PMS?
PMS is a set of physical and emotional responses to the hormone levels changing in your body. It is a combination of symptoms you may experience a week or two before your period arrives.
Symptoms will start to appear before your period starts ( up to five days before) and will disappear during your period. These symptoms can affect your body and your brain (your emotions). As we said above, PMS is different for everyone, but it’s normal! Some of your friends may experience minor symptoms or none at all, while others can experience a number of symptoms during PMS.
What Causes PMS?
The bad news is that no one really knows the exact reason why girls* suffer from PMS. Doctors believe that there may be several factors that contribute to girls experiencing PMS before their period:
- Changes in hormones – the symptoms of PMS can rapidly change with hormonal fluctuations. I.e. the rise and fall of both progesterone and estrogen.
- Chemicals in the brain – everyone has a chemical in their brain called Serotonin, which plays a big role in controlling your mood. Some doctors believe this can trigger PMS a week or two before your period.
Either way, it’s important to remember that if you are experiencing symptoms from PMS, so are a ton of other girls all around the world.
Who Gets PMS?
The Mayo Clinic estimates about 75 percent of women get at least some form of PMS. So, if you have PMS, one thing’s for sure – you’re not alone! Although not every girl gets them, PMS symptoms can actually last through your period, too.
PMS can include:
- Acne – caused by rising levels of progesterone that tell your skin to produce more sebum (an oily substance that clogs your pores and causes breakouts). If you are suffering from hormonal acne, then it can only be treated from the inside. It’s important to wash your face 2x a day, drink lots of water, and avoid touching popping your pimples because they can scar!
- Bloating - everyone’s body holds excess water, and this can lead to bloating. Try avoiding foods high in salt, fizzy drinks and grains.
- Constipation- also caused by progesterone, your digestive system slows down which can lead to constipation. A helpful tip to remember is to increase your fiber intake with foods like nuts and dried fruit!
- Cramping – caused by your uterus contracting as it sheds tissue and lining during your period. To help reduce the symptom you can try pelvic stretches, a hot water bottle, or an essential oil (we recommend Cloud 9). All are known to be effective.
- Cravings - caused by peaks in your stress hormones, your body sends you signals to eat unhealthy foods like sweets, carbs, and fats.
- Diarrhea - we’re not exactly sure what causes changes in your bowel movements but doctors say it’s likely linked to the contracting of your uterus/intestines.
- Difficulty sleeping – If you have low estrogen, magnesium struggles to get into your tissues and can affect your levels of melatonin, which can affect your ability to sleep.
- A headache / menstrual migraine - linked to the fluctuation of hormones serotonin and estrogen
- Irritability/Mood swings – occur when estrogen levels in your body change and you experience symptoms like headaches, cramping, and overall body pain.
- Tender breasts - estrogen causes breasts ducts to enlarge and progesterone causes milk glands to swell, both of which can cause your breasts to feel sore.
- Tiredness – this is the most common and many girls experience it because our bodies are going through some major changes to accommodate for a period.
How Do You Treat PMS
If you are looking for a sure fix to treat PMS, then you’re going to struggle to find it. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to feel better during PMS days:
- Watch your diet - eat more fruits and vegetables so that your body gets the vitamins and minerals you need. Avoid processed foods, such as candy and cookies.
- Like salty foods? Avoid them for now. Too much salt makes you retain fluids. You’ll feel bloated and have less energy.
- Drink as much water as you can.
- Avoid sodas and other caffeinated beverages, such as coffee (if that’s even possible).
- Stay active. Regular exercise will help you ease stress.
- Get your rest: Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a day.
When You Should Seek Help
It’s important for you to remember that 75% of girls suffer from PMS, and it’s absolutely normal. But, there are some symptoms you should watch out for that require you to speak to a doctor – you shouldn’t have to experience them each month!
These symptoms can include depression, anxiety, or feeling sick every month.
Not sure you’re experiencing them? A great idea during PMS or getting your period is to keep a diary of your period cycle and all of the symptoms you experience. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, then it won’t hurt to speak to someone about it.
If you’re experiencing PMS before your period starts, then that’s completely okay! While we don’t know what causes it, just know that there are girls all around the world who are in the same boat as you!
*girls/women not intended to exclusively refer to a specific gender but to people who get periods
Fighting the patriarchy is exhausting, and so is PMS. Choose your weapons wisely and shop Blume products today.