Remember how I said I’ve been an unhealthy mofo lately a few weeks back? Yeah, well I noticed it in my PMS. Unrelenting anger for about 5 days starting around day 23 of my cycle? Check.
If you chart your cycles you may be more aware of PMS. Both what helps or hurts your PMS or whether something you’ve been suspecting is indeed related to your hormones.
When I am really good at charting I like to write certain things on my charts, like days I work out, eat sugar, how I’m feeling, all that good stuff. Sometimes I’m not so good at charting and just do the bare minimum so it works for birth control, which is ok, but I do love what charting can do for me other than birth control. Namely, seeing how terrible I am being towards my health and how that’s making me feel.
If you don’t already chart your cycles using the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness, I strongly suggest you learn.
Ok, so that is just going to help you figure out what’s happening in your PMS and possible why (like if it’s due to low progesterone levels), but lets talk about the three factors that I see as the most common causes of PMS.
3 things that will make your PMS hellish
When you are more stressed your PMS can gets worse by multitudes. It kind of makes intuitive sense, right? Because if you are stressed PMS is just going to exacerbate that original stress. But that’s not actually the real reason, though I’m sure it may contribute. It also has it’s basis in what’s going on with your hormones.
Stress can make progesterone much less plentiful due to something referred to as the pregnenelone steal. Basically, this is when your stress hormones and your progesterone are competing for the same building block. Spoiler alert: Your stress hormones win.
PMS is often considered to be a lack of progesterone (though there is some controversy about whether this is the only thing that causes PMS), so you can imagine why stress would make your PMS worse.
Of course stress is something that isn’t always easy to just turn off. Some things that a lot of people consider good help: Meditation, Yoga, Working out in general, taking time to rest and/or play each day, and taking time for hobbies that relax you. This is obviously going to be totally individual and what works best for you when it comes to reducing your stress level.
2.) Crap diet
Ah, food, what can’t it do to help or hurt you, right? Again, this has to do with overall hormone and progesterone levels.
Your hormones are definitely influenced by your diet and some of the biggest offenders in a diet are:
- Too much sugar.
- Lots of polyunsaturated fats (that’s the yellow oils, generally) and/or trans fats (that’s the hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated stuff).
- Not eating nutrient dense foods (for example, lets say you get a good deal of your calories from bread… That’s really not doing much for ya in the nutrition department).
- Not eating good fats.
- Eating anything you have an intolerance to.
3.) Not accepting your cycles
Another factor that can contribute to PMS is not accepting feeling different during different times in your cycle. I assert that this is why some women (for realsies, guys) get relief from just the act of charting their cycles. Again, this is why I say learn fertility awareness.
Sometimes not accepting that you can’t be exactly the same all cycle, that you might be a little harder to get along with in your luteal phase (that’s the PMS time), or that you can’t constantly put out the same energy and enthusiasm can make you go a bit berserk.
So knowing when you are coming up on your period and giving yourself some slack, or just being prepared for what normally happens to you, can be super helpful in alleviating your PMS.
For example, you could figure out that a certain number of days past ovulation you always want to be alone and if you aren’t you get really agitated and snap at everyone you come into contact with. Instead of just trying to fix the problem, instead just spend the day alone and give yourself some time to do whatever you need to do for yourself. Better, yes?
This list is by no means exhaustive, either in what can cause PMS (like I mentioned, there is still controversy around that) or what can help PMS. These are just three common categories of what might be making your PMS worse and how you can start turning them around to make it better. I’m sure more will come about PMS in the future!
I’d love to know if you have issues with PMS and what has helped or made your PMS worse (or if you have any questions). Let me know in the comments.