If you regularly suffer from PMS, you don’t need me to remind you how much it can get you down. Although every sufferer experiences PMS slightly differently, you may find the troublesome psychological and physical symptoms significantly impair your quality of life.
PMS symptoms are caused because of imbalances in oestrogen and progesterone, your female hormones. In this article you’ll discover why your hormones can become out of kilter and how you can start down the road to balanced hormones, waving goodbye to PMS as you go.
If you do, you’re not alone. It’s believed up to three-quarters of women regularly suffer from premenstrual syndrome, or PMS for short.
Symptoms usually occur in the immediate run-up to your period and pass off when it starts or shortly afterwards. However, you may find your symptoms start as early as mid-cycle and persist through most of your period.
A huge array of symptoms can be connected with PMS. Here are some of the more common ones:
Throughout your reproductive life, your hormones fluctuate daily as part of a coordinated dance to prepare your body for pregnancy.
Day one of your menstrual cycle is when your period finishes, and at this time both your oestrogen and progesterone levels are low. In the first part of the month, oestrogen will rise, building up your womb lining. You usually ovulate, in other words release an egg, between days 12 and 14. In the second part of the month, progesterone is released to maintain your womb lining in preparation for pregnancy. If the egg isn’t fertilised, progesterone falls again immediately before menstruation.
Often, however, oestrogen remains high in the second half of your cycle while progesterone plummets. This is called oestrogen dominance, and it’s connected with many of the symptoms of PMS.
The complicated cycle of hormonal balance over the month can be affected by many different factors and can easily become disturbed. Your gut and your liver both have a huge impact.
Your liver has the job of clearing away oestrogen when it’s done its job and is no longer needed. If your overworked and underpaid liver is struggling, it may not do this efficiently, so oestrogen remains in circulation, leading to oestrogen dominance.
Gut health is also important for hormone balance. One way of disposing of used oestrogen is in your faeces. If you’re constipated, it may be absorbed back into your bloodstream even after your liver has tried to remove it.
If no egg is released at ovulation, very little progesterone will be made during the second half of the cycle. This becomes common with age, and it means oestrogen will dominate. Many women notice their PMS symptoms become worse in the years leading up to the menopause.
Be kind to your gut by ditching processed foods and sugar. Eat plenty of plant foods containing natural fibre to support your friendly gut bacteria.
Avoid coffee, as it’s connected with premenstrual breast tenderness. Try dandelion coffee instead, or a delicious turmeric latte with coconut milk. Research has shown drinking alcohol can raise oestrogen levels. Enjoy fruit spitzers or alternate an alcoholic drink with a big glass of sparkling water.
Load up your plate with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. These contain substances giving a helping hand to your liver’s detoxification processes. Similarly, your liver loves onion and garlic.
Environmental oestrogens from plastics, pesticides, industrial processes, household cleaning products and personal care products can occupy your oestrogen receptors and mimic its effects. They’re many times stronger than your body’s own oestrogen so contribute to oestrogen dominance.
Switch to greener cleaning and personal care products. Whenever possible, choose organic produce to avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals, and never consume non-organic dairy.
Stress and hormone imbalance go hand in hand. This is because your body will prioritise making stress hormones instead of progesterone. Choose your favourite stress-busting techniques and don’t think of them as a luxury. Don’t forget lack of sleep is a major source of stress.
Functional medicine always looks for the causes lying behind your symptoms.
Functional testing examines the levels of your hormones at various time through the month, comparing them to what they should be, to determine what‘s going wrong. This can be extremely useful because your female hormone system is incredibly complicated and different imbalances can often lead to similar symptoms. Tests can also be used to assess your liver and digestive health.
If you would like to start your journey to a PMS-free life, contact me today.
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