Every 28 days – sometimes a little earlier or later – it starts all over again: the menstrual cycle. While the period itself is perceived as an annoyance, this is nothing compared to the torture many women suffer in the days before their menstruation: PMS (premenstrual syndrome). On this Reproductive Health Day we come to your rescue to let you know that you are not alone and to give you some tips and tricks on how to survive.
If you are in a relationship, you know that your partner may be affected as well. That is why we wrote a post for men too, to give him some tips on how to support (and pamper) you during that time of the month.
As many of you know – up to 80% of women report symptoms – during the days before your period is due, an inner demon awakens. Suddenly you feel like bursting into tears for absolutely no reason, leaving your partner completely baffled. However, there is a way he can support you, by following certain guidelines (link) that will make it easier for both of you. If you feel like he is struggling - and you know he is - send him the link. No reason to feel too sorry for the men, as you have to deal with PMS, not him.
Headaches, mood swings, food cravings, and bloating; the symptoms of PMS are hardly pleasant. The causes of PMS still aren't fully understood, but there are several elements involved. Changes in hormones during the menstrual cycle and chemical changes in the brain are thought to be the biggest contributing factors. While stress and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety do not cause PMS, they often make it worse.
You can tame the PMS demon
Good news! The demon can be tamed with some lifestyle changes. Regular exercise is a good start: aerobic activities like jogging, walking, and swimming stimulates your metabolism and blood circulation, release endorphins, thus soothing cramps and improving your overall mood. So put on your running shoes, open Runtastic and get out into the outdoors.
If you prefer to stay indoors or workout in private, yoga can be a good alternative. A little bit of „OM“ creates a general sense of relaxation. In the search for inner balance, Apps can also be a great help, especially if you have no previous experience with sun salutations.
Instead of plenty of sweets, a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals is recommended. On Kitchen Stories you can find healthy meal ideas and inspiration. A positive side effect is that a healthy diet reduces cravings, so you won't find yourself standing in front of the fridge with chocolate on your face and a crazed look in your eyes.
That leaves us the headaches, backaches, and breast tenderness. On the days where working out is just not going to happen, hot water bottles and a cup of herbal tea to enjoy on the couch are just as good. Hot water bottles ease cramps as well as other aches and pains associated with PMS. Hint: Rope your partner in to pamper you with these tasks, they will be thankful for something specific that they can do for you.
While most women report some symptoms, 20% to 30% of women of childbearing age suffer from moderate premenstrual symptom, with symptoms severe enough to interrupt some facet of life. However, 3% to 8% of childbearing age suffer from a much more severe form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Women with PMDD experience symptoms severe enough to seriously impair daily functions. If you feel you suffer from PMS or PPMD, talk to your doctor about possible treatment options.
Download apps to manage your cycle
If you have to take medication for PMDD or other illnesses, you know the dosage and timing of the medication intake is important. The MyTherapy app can help you by setting reminders for you to take your medication. What makes MyTherapy special is that the app is not just pill reminder and period tracker app for Android and iOS phones: You can also you can record your emotions and your mood in a diary that is especially helpful for tracking your PMS symptoms. Besides the alarm for your medications, MyTherapy can also remind you of other activities like your daily workout.
A little bonus: With MyTherapy your partner can also prepare himself for the hard times in your cycle. If you might not be in the mood to talk, your partner can gather information about your condition via the app –of course only if you grant him access. With this information, he will know when to serve you some tea, get you a hot water bottle, or better yet stay away at the bar to have a pint or two in order to give you time for yourself. There are also other apps like Clue or Period Tracker with similar functionalities designed for women to track their menstrual cycle.
Despite the little helpers like hot water bottles, apps, and exercise, the days before your period will probably never be the most pleasant of times. At least you now have the tools to fight your own PMS demon.
P.S. Give your partner a little help in supporting you and tell him about the post we wrote for men.