As women, we know the classic signs of PMS, how it feels and how it's often unexplainable. A French study identified over 400 symptoms women attribute to their menstrual cycle and PMS, ranging from mild pain, to hospitalisation.
However your period and time beforehand manifests, one thing is clear to me - there's still much confusion around terminology and that these symptoms are treatable and manageable. I repeat, you do not have to just "live with" your symptoms.
So first, terminology:
PMS = pre menstrual stress
PMT = pre menstrual tension
These two are more or less the same. There are then 4 subcategories of PMS/T:
PMS - C = Cravings: for sweets and chocolates. 60% of women experience this
PMS - H = Hyper-hydration: water retention and bloating
PMS - D = Depression: low mood, tearful, lack of coordination, sense of hopelessness
PMS - A = Anxiety: feelings of panic, increased stress. Up to 80% of women experience this
All of the above can also include some of the more common symptoms: pain across the abdomen, lower back and backs of legs, cramping, mood swings, feeling more emotional than normal, breast tenderness, headaches or migraines (to name just a few).
Some women can have severe PMS/T, which involves feelings of much more severe depression and anxiety which can last for 2 weeks or more throughout the menstrual cycle.
This is called PMDD = Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Why do some women suffer from PMDD and others don't?
Annoyingly there is no definitive cause as some women who experience it have a hormone imbalance and some don’t.
The good news is that there is a lot that can be done with nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, supplements and herbs to improve symptoms.
Most importantly you need to follow a hormone balancing diet so the liver is supported for clearing hormones, toxins and wastes, preventing them for recirculating in the blood stream and wrecking havoc with emotions and pain centres.
Working to balance your blood sugar by eating regular meals, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats such as oily fish and avocado are all great ways to reduce your symptoms too. Avoiding caffeine, sugar, salt, alcohol and processed foods is also essential, but more on that later.