PMS: What’s a girl to do?
Anger, irritability, sadness, emotional outbursts, breast tenderness, bloating, cravings, acne, headaches…any of these sound familiar, ladies? Chances are you’ve experienced at least some of these symptoms, and maybe you even experience them every month. They might just be mild and annoying, but not interfering with your day to day life, or they might be moderate to severe leading you to take days off work or school, avoid social events, and sometimes leaving you not able to function for 1 or more days per month. NOT COOL.
Maybe you’ve asked your doctor about options for your PMS, and if you have, you’ve likely heard 1 of 3 things:
- PMS is part of being a woman, take a Motrin/Advil/Aleve/insert other painkillers here.
- Here’s a prescription for an anti-depressant to help manage your mood.
- Here’s a prescription for birth control – it will balance your hormones and fix all of your problems in life….ok that last one might have been a bit of an exaggeration, but none the less it is often prescribed for any type issue related to your hormones. The problem? It doesn’t actually balance your hormones or ‘cure’ your #periodproblems at all – but that’s a topic for another post!
Sound familiar? Well, I’m here to tell you some brand new information (not actually brand new, but maybe new to you!).
I’ll start off by saying that when I talk about PMS symptoms, I’m referring to symptoms experienced by women who are not currently using hormonal birth control (pill, IUD, patch, injections, etc.) Now by no means am I discounting the symptoms experienced by women using birth control, they are just not *technically* categorized as PMS. Side effects of hormonal birth control can be similar to PMS symptoms, and the pill is known to deplete key vitamins and minerals in the body, also leading to symptoms. So for my ladies on the pill, we start by repleting those nutrients! If you’re on the pill or other hormonal birth control for reasons other than preventing pregnancy – there’s more than likely a better (and safer) option out there for you – send me a message!
Now on to the good stuff…
PMS IS NOT NORMAL! Common, very. Normal? NOPE. Yes, it can be normal to notice some mild changes in the day or two before your expected period. But anything that has you reaching for pain killers, staying home from work or school, swinging into a depressed/anxious/irritable/excessively emotional mood – not normal. Acne breakouts starting 1-2 weeks before your period that have you feeling like you’re in junior high again? Not normal. Bloating so bad you look 6 months pregnant or can’t fit into your clothes half the month? Definitely not normal.
So what can Naturopathic Medicine do to help? Well, when it comes to hormones, the question should really be what CAN’T Naturopathic Medicine do to help!
We have multiple treatment options in our toolbox as Naturopathic Doctors, and the treatment we choose is individualized to your specific symptoms so it’s important to get recommendations from an expert (what helped your friend might not be the right option for you).
The first step, however, is getting an accurate assessment and ruling out anything else that might be going on. The good news is that you can start this process right now! If you’re anything like me, you can’t remember what you ate for breakfast last week…so why should you be expected to remember every detail about last 2, 3, 4 periods? To help you (and your ND) out, start keeping a record of your symptoms and their severity so we can get an accurate representation of what your PMS is like. No fancy labs or expensive blood tests needed!
For tracking your PMS symptoms, I recommend using an app like Clue and tracking any symptoms you have. Make sure to track EVERYDAY, not just the week before your period. This helps us decide if your symptoms truly are PMS or if you have something else going on that just gets worse in the week(s) leading up to your period. If you’re not an app gal, tracking the old fashion way with pen and paper works just as well – print out this chart and use it to track your symptoms everyday. I recommend tracking for AT LEAST 2-3 months to get a really good idea of your symptoms, severity, and timing. When you’re done tracking, take your results to your Naturopathic Doctor to have them recommend treatment options that are specific for you! Don’t want to wait 2-3 months to get relief? No problem – we can start treatment sooner based on your main symptoms and we’ll keep tracking to monitor your progress.