Health

How to find relief from PMS

It's a common condition for many women, but we no longer have to grin and bear it.
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Mood swings, bloating, aches and pains – premenstrual syndrome (or PMS as it’s often called) is a condition many of us are all too familiar with. If that wasn’t enough, the symptoms can also change as we get older.

So while there eventually comes a time in life when we say goodbye to periods and hop off that hormonal roller-coaster once and for all, some women find that their PMS may get worse in the lead up to menopause. 

WATCH: Emma Chamberlain’s guide to looking cute on your period. Article continues after video.

The good news? As we begin to talk about women’s issues more openly, we’re also learning more about available treatments – which range from medical interventions to lifestyle changes and natural therapies. Best of all, we don’t have to suffer in silence any more.

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There’s no need to just bear it anymore. (Credit: Getty)

Hormones 101

Chances are you may already be pretty familiar with what PMS is, but why does it happen in the first place? While the exact causes aren’t fully understood, women’s healthcare and natural fertility expert

Nat Kringoudis says it’s linked to hormonal changes that occur during the luteal phase, which is the final part of our menstrual cycle before our period.

“The luteal phase is the time we make progesterone. It is the hormone produced as a product of ovulation,” Kringoudis says.

“Given the timing of the symptoms in PMS (the second part of the cycle) it’s possible that symptoms are related to the hormone progesterone.”

How does stress affect PMS?

If you’re already stressed, Kringoudis says PMS can sometimes magnify those symptoms.

“In my experience, women’s PMS symptoms are often proportionate to their stress levels,” she explains.

“Progesterone is naturally a calming hormone. Often in times of high stress, progesterone levels may decrease as cortisol levels rise.”

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Stress can impact PMS symptoms. (Credit: Getty)

If that sounds familiar, it may be time for some self care. “I’ve seen many women come into the clinic after a vacation reporting their symptoms were far less severe,” she adds.

“It’s important to say – stress comes in many forms including loss, overwhelm, work or home pressures, but it can extend to lack of sleep or poor nutrition. Every little bit you can do to help your body through times of pressure counts.”

Can PMS change as I get older?

Some women find their symptoms change during perimenopause, which generally begins around four to eight years before their final period.

“When it comes to perimenopause, we begin to see a natural decline in ovarian function, which is perfectly normal, but as a result we begin to see more hormone fluctuations which can contribute to mild symptoms,” explains Kringoudis.

“When we couple this with high stress and cortisol we can see higher fluctuations due to the impact of cortisol on other sex hormones which results in bigger shifts and more obvious symptoms.”

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