Pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS as we usually name it, is a phase that almost every young female adult and woman go through each month. Studies show that around 85% of women around the world experience physical and emotional symptoms associated with PMS every month; and 3% to 8% of them go through some extreme forms of physical and emotional stress. PMS is usually experienced a week or two before the menstrual cycle starts.
Symptoms of PMS:
PMS is no fun! The symptoms associated with PMS varies from a range of physical to emotional changes –
• Incessant food cravings
• Mood Swings
• Muscle cramps
• Lower backache
• Mild depression
• Breast swelling and tenderness
These are some of the most common symptoms that women complain about during PMS.
Factors leading to PMS:
There is no specific reason understood as to why women suffer PMS before every menstrual cycle; however, there might be a number of factors attributing to PMS –
• Hormonal changes – The levels of estrogen and progesterone rise and fall before/during the menstrual cycle
• Chemical changes – Ovarian steroids modulate activity in certain parts of your brain associated with PMS.
• Lifestyle changes – You may experience extreme forms of PMS if you lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Smoking, alcohol consumption, drinking too much caffeine, lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet are some factors.
• Overweight and lack of exercise – It is often found that obese women go through higher levels of PMS. Also, physical inactivity leads to PMS.
Healthy ways to treat PMS:
Follow a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly to get your PMS over control –
• Smaller meals – We often feel bloated during our PMS days. So, it is advisable to take meals in smaller portions for 4-6 times over the day. You’ll feel less bloated and full.
• Limit Salt and Sugar – It is our craving for salty and sugary food that increases especially during this time. Limit sodium intake to prevent fluid retention and the feeling of bloated out. Excess sugar (candies, cookies, jams & jellies, pies, cake, sweets) leads to rapid fluctuations in blood sugar thus aggravating moodiness and irritability.
• Increase intake of complex carbs and fibres – Whole grains and legumes, brown rice, fruits and veggies work towards enhancing your mood and control unhealthy cravings.
• Say no to cravings – Often to lift our mood and get rid of physical stress, we crave packet food rich in unsaturated fats and processed carbohydrates like chips, cookies and processed cold cuts. These tasty snacks lead to over-eating and upsetting our digestive system.
• Calcium intake – Calcium-rich diet is anyways an essential nutrient in a women’s diet. However, during PMS, increasing calcium intake in diet has been shown to reduce mood swings and depressions, fluid retention and pain. You might also consider taking some calcium supplements under doctor’s prescription.
• Limit caffeine and alcohol – These days you might have to think twice before filling that mug with your favourite coffee. Or you might have to do with a glass of juice or mocktail at one of those parties. Caffeine and alcohol has proven to increase stress and tension while worsening PMS pain.
• Exercise daily – Enjoy aerobics and cardio training (running, jogging, brisk walking or swimming) these days. These exercises set the pace of your heart thus easing anxiety and stress. It also helps maintain your weight during this phase.
• Relax – Take some time out for yourself and treat yourself to a spa or massage day. Relax your body and it will make you feel way better.
• Spend quality time – Good company works wonders on emotional stress. Spend some time with your friends or loved ones. Do what you like doing the most and you’ll end up forgetting half of your PMS symptoms.