A little bit more than a week after a Nepali woman (and her two children) died after they froze to death when they were forced to live in a hut outside their home as she was on her menstrual cycle, I sit here on a Friday night cozy in sweatpants refusing to leave my home because I just got my period this morning.
In 2019 there are women who are suffering as a result of experiencing one of life's most significant phenomena: the menstrual cycle. Invariably it is hard to imagine that most women really have a grasp of what is happening to them on a monthly basis. Is it really a demon possessing us monthly or is the menstrual cycle a signal to the world that you're a healthy young female experiencing life as nature had intended?
It's a hard thing to endure month to month as I sit here writing this article whilst on my period. I've felt sluggish all day and the past week has been a bit more emotional than the weeks before. I am not my 100% self. I took a jog this morning and couldn't make the two mile mark, I had some vitamin injections and developed a cramp as a result. I chose to stay home tonight and snuggle with my friend's puppy and wear sweat pants. It's that time of the month that women try to master but each month comes with surprises. Only recently have I been able to understand my body and give it what it needs during this time of hormonal changes: I can't imagine what other girls in other parts of the country and the world experience when they don't have the right tools to keep them alive during menstruation.
I find importance in being able to share this information to all women and let them know that it is OK to have your period! you should be grateful every month for that regular flow. And it's also OK to have fluctuations in mood, weight, skin health, appetite etc during this time and there are more natural remedies including diet and lifestyle that you can do to help ease this week of the month.
For starters what is PMS? PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome which means the time in your cycle right before the flow starts. It is characterized by 150 or more symptoms some common ones being: fluctuations in mood, changes in body weight usually resulting in bloating, increase in acne, fatigue, increased desire for high fatty food, increase risk of binge eating and so on.
During the pre-menstrual and menstrual periods variations in food intake.
Hormonal changes results in alternations in taste perception and metabolism and the basal metabolic rate is increased by 15% during PMS.
Common hormones that are affected during PMS are estrogen, progesterone, aldosterone, prolactin and the thyroid hormones. Most women will experience PMS at some point in their lives. Treatments for PMS seem few and far between but there are some proven remedies that can ease the edges of PMS for sure so here are a few easy ways to keep PMS at bay:
Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine. Is a vitamin involved in the production of neurotransmitters - such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine etc. It is postulated that levels of these feel good neurotransmitters decrease during PMS so the theory is that taking vitamin B6 can help with the production of more neurotransmitters and studies done testing the use of pyridoxine have been promising for the treatment of PMS.
Probiotics: Cleaning up your gut with healthy bacteria can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also help with the common symptom of bloating
the most important part of taking probiotics is finding the right one that works with your body. Most of the time I recommend consulting with an integrative practitioner before doing so.
Salt Restriction: Decreasing your intake of salt during PMS can help decrease the risk of bloating. Water follows salt so the less you eat the less you retain.
Decreasing your fat intake and increasing your fiber intake can also help alleviate the symptoms of bloating and fatigue during PMS
Magnesium: An element with a multitude of benefits that I recommend most of my clients take given that most of us are deficient in this essential element. Taking it in the form of glycerinate or citrate allows for good absorption. Magnesium can help ease the symptoms of PMS from controlling cravings, decreased bloating, decreasing cramping and alleviating anxiety
Calcium and Vitamin D: Calcium and vitamin D supplementation has been shown in numerous studies to improve PMS symptoms.
Estrogen helps regulate calcium and vitamin D metabolism. Ensuring the levels are adequate are important and should be assessed with lab work as there is a possibility of overdose.
Regular exercise can help keep the hormones in the body balanced and allow for less drastic fluctuations during PMS. Exercise can also all can help regulate hormones and improve mood and decrease your body's reactions to PMS symptoms
Lastly be gentle - I am notorious for pushing my body to it's limits even when it is dealing with significant hormonal shifts but I am learning that it is best to respect the process and give your body a break once a month while it renews its cycle yet again
Article Written by - Dr Raheleh Sarbaziha