Nearly 50 percent of women say they get PMS, with symptoms including bloating, headaches and moodiness. Here’s how to get rid of period bloating. INTIMINA’s gynecologist Dr Shree Datta reveals exactly how to tackle premenstrual symptoms, from period bloating to headaches.
Dr Datta said: “National guidelines estimate that 40 percent of women experience PMS symptoms, with around five percent having severe symptoms.
“As you can see, it includes a whole range of symptoms and their severity varies from person to person.
“If you think you suffer from PMS keep a diary of your symptoms over two periods, in relation to your menstrual cycle and note down any appetite and sleep changes.
“Make sure you get things reviewed by your Gynaecologist early; things that we will consider include the supplements mentioned above, exercise, and of course, review your diet.
“We’ll work with your cycle, looking at how long your symptoms last, and whether they affect your lifestyle.
“We will consider these in conjunction with medications such as the pill, or other interventions such as cognitive behaviour therapy.”
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What is PMS?
Dr Datta explained the main players in menstruation are the ovaries, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland.
She said: “Together, these heavy hitters dictate the production and secretion of reproductive hormones.”
The first day of bleeding is the start of your “cycle”.
About 14 days after that is when ovulation occurs and you enter the luteal phase. Usually about two weeks after your period – although this can vary.
PMS comes in the luteal phase of your cycle, which is usually about two weeks after your period, but this can vary from person to person.
Dr Datta said: “When an egg released during ovulation goes unfertilised, progesterone levels begin to fall.
“This powerful hormone controls a lot in your body, including chemicals in the brain such as serotonin.
“A drop in this so-called ‘happy chemical’ is a contributing factor in the emotional swings that can come before your period.
“Progesterone also aids in relaxation and sleep. So when levels of it drop, you may feel anxious and irritable.
“On the other hand, high levels of estrogen, sometimes called ‘estrogen dominance’, can increase symptoms of PMS.
“For the most part, the two main theories around PMS, revolve around sensitivities to progesterone and progestins, along with the neurotransmitter (Serotonin and GABA) theory.”
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How to get rid of period bloating, headaches and mood swings
Change your diet
That’s right, you need to change what you eat to improve your symptoms.
Dr Datta said: “Many of the things we eat on a daily basis can have a significant impact on PMS symptoms.
“Sneaky things like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can all negatively affect your hormonal levels.
“Cutting these out, or limiting them may improve your symptoms.
“If you eat meat and other animal products, be sure to choose ones made from animals not treated with hormones.
“This may seem like common sense, but added hormones to your food means added hormones to your body.
“Stick to the basics here. Whole foods, organic preferred, with lots of fruits and veggies.
“Fiber is also crucial to your body’s ability to process estrogen.”
The food you eat not only impacts your hormones but also your overall mood.
Even though it’s the last thing you want to do when you are due on your period, you need to exercise.
Dr Datta said: “When it comes to PMS, it matters what you do throughout your whole cycle, not just while you’re feeling uncomfortable.
“Regular exercise and movement can help improve symptoms of PMS before they even start.”
Working out all month round will reduce symptoms, so get on that yoga mat or head out for a run ahead of time.
One of the reasons so many people are experiencing symptoms related to high levels of estrogen is because of lifestyle and environmental factors.
Dr Datta explained if you watch the chemicals you are using, you could regulate your hormone levels.
She said: “Certain chemicals in plastics, cosmetics, cleaning products, and plenty of other things we use in our daily lives, have high levels of BPA, and other compounds that negatively affect our hormone levels.
“Switching to toxin-free products, and reducing plastic (especially when it comes to your food) may significantly improve PMS symptoms.”
Sometimes ranting to your friends won’t help, but seeing an expert might.
Dr Datta said: “If you constantly find yourself down in the dumps before your period, it may be helpful to seek counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
“Your overall mental and physical health have significant impacts on premenstrual symptoms.
“A high-stress lifestyle can throw hormones out of whack. The menstrual cycle is a direct reflection of your overall health.
“Poor mental and physical health can affect menstruation, especially when it comes to any emotional side effects you may experience.
“While it’s a lot easier said than done to be healthy and stress-free, doing what you can to help improve these areas of your life, will give you a smoother luteal phase, and overall menstrual cycle.
“While some PMS symptoms are normal – and there is a wide range of normal – if they are seriously affecting your life and wellbeing, there are steps you can take to help make your cycle smoother.”
Dr Datta recommended seeing a holistic practitioner to treat your hormonal imbalances, or a local acupuncturist, naturopathic doctor, or midwife.
Some chiropractors also have knowledge in hormonal balancing and nutrition, she said.
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