PMS and Hormonal Health. Ways to Support Yourself

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) affects approx 80% of women to varying degrees during the 7-14 days before their period begins.
The female body is constantly changing throughout the menstrual cycle and many of us are aware of different feelings, mood and needs at different times of the month.

What Are The Reasons For Your PMS?

  • Hormonal imbalance – an excess of oestrogen and inadequate progesterone.
  • Unstable blood sugar – leading to cravings and mood swings.
  • Poor nutrition – the body is missing nutrients that help balance hormones and ease inflammation and cramping and there may be an excess of foods that aggravate this condition.
  • Poor liver function – this may be an overload of toxins such as coffee, processed foods, medication or alcohol. The liver has the role of breaking down and eliminating hormones to prevent their re-absorption.
  • N.B: Always remember to check with your GP if there is anything you are suspicious about.

What Are The Symptoms?

Acne and skin problems, anger, anxiety, bloating, backache, breast tenderness, cramps, cravings, crying for no particular reason, depression, general lack of energy and motivation, fainting, irritability, mood swings, over-spending/impulsive purchases, sleep problems.

What To Avoid/Reduce To Help Your Symptoms:

  • Alcohol – can upset the blood sugar balance, accelerate nutrient loss and increase levels of oestrogen.
  • Caffeine – linked to increased breast tenderness and can make you more anxious and jittery, and increase stress hormones. Caffeine can also hinder nutrient absorption especially minerals such as magnesium that can help alleviate cramping and balance blood sugar levels.
  • Dairy – especially non-organic and non grass-fed – it can increase the body’s oestrogen levels and block the absorption of magnesium, particularly important at this time to help ease cramping. For those who are unable to digest dairy products there may be digestive discomfort and excess gas present too.
  • Salt – excess especially table salt from processed foods can contribute to cramping, bloating and water retention. Always use quality sea salt or Himalayan in moderation.
  • Sugars and refined foods – they upset the blood sugar balance and rob the body of nutrients whilst giving nothing back.

What To Increase To Feel Better:

  • Your intake of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, essential for vitamins, minerals and fibre.
  • Do not go hungry! This is will do nothing for your mood, everything seems 100 times worse on a grumbling tummy, and your healthy choices and cravings will kick in even more at this time! Eat little and often leading up to your period.
  • Wholegrains, pulses and beans in moderation – they help to balance blood sugar by releasing energy steadily and they are a source of fibre needed to clear out old hormones and toxins.
  • Essential fats – raw nuts and seeds, small oily fish, avocado and organic eggs – they help reduce the inflammatory response and balance hormones.
  • Exercise – a brisk walk a day is better than nothing, but aim to make it a regular part of your lifestyle – choose something you enjoy. It can enhance blood flow to the pelvic area and lessen bloating and cramping.
  • Protein with each meal and snack – to keep blood sugar balanced and keep you fuller for longer, as well as providing the building blocks for your hormones and neurotransmitters.

Plan Your Month!

Days 1-7 (menstruation)

  • Include gentle, regular exercise – this helps with circulation, particularly to the pelvic area and helps to balance hormones and ease cramps.
  • This is a time when the skin can be especially sensitive, so not a good time for a leg wax, try a massage instead.

Days 8-14 (pre-ovulation)

  • The time you are feeling your sexiest and more confident – go on a date or seduce your partner. It’s a good time too for socialising, meeting new people or a job interview.
  • This is a good time for planning and making phone calls as your verbal co-ordination is enhanced.

Days 15-21 (post-ovulation)

  • Incorporate some laughter into your day, be it a friend, a movie or a book – get those endorphins flowing.
  • Make sure you take time out for yourself. This might be as simple as a long soak in the bath with those magazines you have been meaning to read.

Days 22-28 (premenstrual)

  • Your energy levels may flag a little here, don’t make this an excuse to give into cravings, ensure you have adequate sleep, relaxation and exercise.
  • Pain? What pain?  This is the best time for waxing, or a deep tissue massage, you’ll be able to handle pain better at this stage.

…and it starts all over again….


Jo Rowkins, Nutritional Therapist

I can help you find your own hormonal balance. Get in touch. I'd be delighted to hear from you!

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