Yes, PMS is real. No, women are not just making it up.
In fact, as many as three-quarters of all women report some symptoms of PMS every month. That means seventy percent of all women can spend up to a quarter of their lives suffering from fatigue, bloating, mood disruptions, acne, cramps, breast pain, and general misery.
There are some medicines designed to alleviate the symptoms. But taking in chemicals on such a regular basis is not appealing to some.
From vitamins to exercises, something can be done to help without reaching for the bottle — pill or otherwise. Here are a bunch of natural remedies, tips, and tricks to make PMS less miserable.
It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but the PMS-beating benefits of exercise are two-fold. Not only does exercise increase blood flow to muscles and help relieve cramping, but it also releases endorphins, which raises serotonin levels in the brain to boost mood and beat the PMS blues.
2. Take Hot Baths.
Hot baths have both physical and psychological benefits. Regarding pain, the warm water can help ease tense muscles and help you relax. Plus, the overall sensation of a warm bath is hard to beat. Mentally, taking some alone time away from stress and problems and having a few minutes respite can ease anxiety and lift your mood.
3. Try Heating Pads.
Heating pads (particularly placed on the lower back) are a healthier alternative to pain medication, although they have not been properly tested for the placebo effect. Nonetheless, women using a heating pad reported a pain reduction of 27% after the first hour, 43% at the second hour, and 79% at the end of the fourth hour compared to those using nothing at all.
4. Eat — But Eat Well.
Many women fear overeating while suffering from PMS, as they want to avoid excessive weight gain and bloating. However, it’s important to eat if you’re feeling hungry, and sticking to the right foods can also help counter the symptoms. Food rich in minerals like calcium and iron are perfect to boost your energy, and vitamin A is great for regulating hormones. Try salmon, seeds, broccoli, or yogurt for some guilt-free munching.
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5. Avoid Certain Foods.
Although you’re likely craving sugar and salt, it’s best to indulge only in moderation. The momentary satisfaction is fleeting, and you’ll likely end up feeling worse afterward. Limiting alcohol and caffeine can also help regulate mood and avoid energy crashes.
6. Take Some Supplements.
Taking supplements can help your body and mind at this time of stress and imbalance. Some good options are chasteberry (which has a good track record for easing breast tenderness), evening primrose oil (which balances hormones and can reduce pain), gingko biloba (which has been proven to reduce PMS symptoms), St. Johns’ wort (to alleviate depression and anxiety), and dandelion root (to calm cramps and rebalance hormones).
7. Have An Orgasm.
Orgasms are by nature stress relievers. They encourage blood flow around the body and trigger release of serotonin (the “happy hormone”). Orgasms can also offer respite from cramps.
8. Give Aromatherapy A Go.
It may sound kind of out there, but essential oils can have noticeable effects on mood and temperament. The right ones can de-stress, relax and minimize headaches and pains. Oils can be rubbed into skin, diffused via an oil burner, or even dropped into that hot bath we talked about earlier.
Eucalyptus, ylang ylang, rose, clary sage, lavender, and geranium are some of the most popular examples, but there are plenty to choose from. You can also mix and match to customize your own perfect PMS-beating blend.
While the natural and beautiful menstrual cycle may end up causing havoc via pain and suffering, there’s no need to put on a brave face. But if the idea of medicating every month doesn’t sit right with you, then there are other effective and easy steps to take. However, it’s important to remember: If all you want is a big old painkiller and candy bar, that’s fine too.