WTF is PMS and Why Do We Get It?

Let me start by saying, despite the taboos around the use of the word PMS when it comes down to it - PMS is a real thing. It does not happen for everyone, and there are many women who get no warning signs that their periods coming at all. Amazing right? 

While most women admit they experience physical and/or emotional change during the second phase of their cycle (after ovulation), 20% of women say they experience PMS so severe they actually seek medical treatment. PMS is different for everyone, but everyone will experience it at some point in their life. PMS is common, but it is not evitable or even permanent. It’s actually curable. In fact, PMS responds very well to natural treatment. 

So what is PMS exactly? 

PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome and refers to physical and emotional symptoms. PMS is hard to directly define because it is not just ONE thing - PMS refers to a large and varying set of symptoms that can last for various amounts of time depending on the person. But generally speaking, to qualify as PMS the symptoms must occur during the ten days before your period and then disappear shortly after bleeding begins. In my experience, most of the women I work with experience the most PMS symptoms from the 26th day of their cycle until their period comes. 

Symptoms of PMS

Let’s be honest, PMS is complicated. And the word has been used for centuries to basically write off women’s emotions as “hormonal” - but that’s for another blog! Sometimes PMS for some is physical symptoms, which if severe can sometimes be a sign of a bigger issue such as endometriosis or PCOS. Other times PMS is emotional, which if severe can also be a sign of PMDD or other mental conditions. 

In most cases, however, PMS a lovely cocktail of both physical and emotional symptoms, and you basically become a crazy psycho for a few days. To each their own ladies.  Generally speaking, the most commonly reported physical symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Bloating
  • Joint/Muscle Pain
  • Breast Pain
  • Acne
  • Insomnia
  • Palpitations
  • Sugar/Wheat cravings

And the most commonly reported emotional symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Rage
  • Excessive crying (even when happy)
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Overthinking
  • Mood swings

So what causes PMS? Why does this happen to us?

The first thing you should understand is that PMS symptoms should not be blamed on your hormones. Your hormones, progesterone, and estrogen, when playing together nicely are actually beneficial, even though it may not appear that way. Your hormones are just trying to do what they do best.

Simply put, having some estrogen in your body is great! Estrogen increases serotonin and makes us happy!  Butttt if your body makes too much, it can be overstimulating and cause many of the above-mentioned PMS symptoms. Also, the more estrogen your body produces, the harder you fall when it drops at the end of your cycle. Estrogen withdrawal = PMS symptoms. And one cranky bitch.

So progesterone to the rescue ladies! To balance out your up and down estrogen levels, your body should be making enough progesterone. That is what will keep you safe! Well kinda. Not everyone makes enough when they need it. But if you do make enough progesterone to balance your estrogen that is great. Less PMS for you. Happy period. Yay! 

Now if you don’t make enough progesterone, OR if your progesterone drops too quickly then you will probably experience the mood swings that made PMS famous. I'm talking super cranky bitch ok? 

Please know that all of this is NORMAL. Read it again, THIS IS ALL NORMAL! Your hormones are meant to fluctuate. The goal is to learn to adapt to them when they do and develop what is referred to by naturopaths as hormonal resilience. Sounds sexy, doesn't it?

Now that you have an understanding of PMS and how it happens, we can get into some natural remedies and ways to reduce it on my Patreon. In my next VIP blog, I will go over some tips for reducing and eliminating PMS. For life.

Side note*** If you are taking hormonal birth control, you are not experiencing real PMS. You are experiencing side effects for the drug. We will discuss this more in the upcoming birth control blog series :-) 

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