PMS 101: All your questions, answered!
Mia Klitsas, the founder behind Moxie personal care products, shares her expertise on the topic of PMS and how to finding comfort at that 'time of the month'.
Bloating, mood swings, skin breakouts, headaches, food cravings, depression fatigue… you may experience one, some or all of these symptoms (and some others – tender breasts, anyone?) just before you’re due for your period. But you’re not alone – it’s said that as many as ¾ women who menstruate are affected by pre-menstrual syndrome, more commonly known as PMS. So what’s the deal with PMS, anyway? Here’s everything you need to know…
What is PMS?
PMS is a combination of physical, behavioural or emotional signs that are experienced by people who have a menstrual period. The symptoms include those listed above, as well as others, like abdominal cramps, difficulty concentrating, constipation and/or diarrhoea.
Why does it happen?
The exact cause of PMS isn’t really, definitively known; but what we do know is that our hormones have a lot to do with it – particularly the fluctuating levels of the main players, oestrogen and progesterone, as well as serotonin (also known as the happy hormone!). Our serotonin levels tend to take a dive just before we’re due for our period, meaning we’ve likely to have less happy and more sad during that time. That said, PMS symptoms can also be exacerbated by poor lifestyle choices (unbalanced diet, smoking, excessive alcohol intake), lack of sleep, our genetics and that silent killer, stress!
When does it happen?
Most people who experience PMS will feel its affects around 4 – 10 days before they are due for their period, but it usually stops once your bleed starts (that said, a lot of women will experience some kind of abdominal or back period-related pain at the onset of their period, but this too should only last a day or so). PMS symptoms can vary month to month and in some months, you may not have any at all – huzzah!
Is PMS normal?
Everyone has a different pain threshold but generally speaking, mild – moderate discomfort is not abnormal and considered quite common. If you feel like your PMS symptoms are excessive or if you feel something is amiss, we’d recommend seeing a trusted health professional for a more personalised diagnosis and treatment plan.
What if my pain is severe?
If you’re experiencing severe physical pain, you may have endometriosis, an often debilitating and very painful condition whereby the lining of the uterus grows outside of it. If you’re feeling extremely depressed, anxious or even suicidal before your period, you may be suffering from pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). No person should suffer in silence – if something doesn’t feel right for you, please, get checked!
How can I treat PMS?
Most PMS sufferers can manage symptoms by themselves with home remedies and good lifestyle choices. Here are a few of our MoxieHQ tried and tested faves:
- Exercise! Do whatever you can manage or feel up to, even if it’s just a light walk (or a boogie on the dance-floor!). Exercise increases endorphins, which are also known as natural pain-killers.
- Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water
- Lay off the cigarettes and alcohol
- Cut down on salt intake (salt attracts water = bloating!)
- Get adequate, restful, sleep
- Don’t forget to self-care: spend time with people you love, get a massage, take a bath… Anything you can do to de-stress and make yourself feel happy will help when those serotonin levels dip.
About the Author: Meet Mia
Mia is a Melbourne based entrepreneur with a passion for women’s health, rights and social issues. After what started as an off-the-cuff idea to re-package tampons in reusable and recyclable little tins so that they’d stop rolling around in her handbag, her 'Moxie’ brand of eco-luxe, purse-worthy women's personal care products are now a familiar sight at major retailers around Australia and also around the globe.
Over the last 14 years, she has been behind many initiatives that are leaving a lasting legacy, such as providing almost 15,000 young women with sustainable menstrual products and education, so that they could continue their schooling, uninterrupted by their periods. And she’s no-where near done yet… “I’ve barely even started!” she says.