Many women accept premenstrual syndrome (PMS), period pain and other menstrual irregularities as a normal part of life. In fact, at least 60% of Australian women suffer from PMS and it is more common in women in their 30s. From this point on, I recommend that you begin to rethink your ideas about menstruation and reclaim the wisdom of your cycles.
In reality, menstruation should not cause any significant interruption to your everyday living. Symptoms of PMS or painful periods are a clear sign that your reproductive system is not working as well as it can be and, if you’re struggling with your weight, this could be an area you need to address.
Something that you need to work on is to keep your monthly pain at bay. Period pain or dysmenorrhoea is very common and affects most women at some stage in their lives. In fact, dysmenorrhoea is one of the leading causes of female school and work absenteeism. The good news is, mother nature can lend a helping hand.
So what are the symptoms of PMS?
There are more than 100 different symptoms of PMS and most of these symptoms respond well to diet, lifestyle, exercise, herbal and nutritional therapy.
- Mood swings
- Irritability, anxiety and nervous tension
- Mental confusion
- Poor concentration
- Abnormal bloating and distension
- Weight gain from fluid retention
- Breast tenderness and swelling
- Altered appetitie – especially cravings for sugar, alcohol and fatty foods
- Physical fatigue and weakness
- Changes in Libido
- Constipation and/or diarrhoea
Why do you get PMS?
PMS occurs due to imbalances in female reproductive hormones. In particular, low levels of progesterone throughout the cycle with elevated oestrogen during the second half of your cycle.
It can also be related to too many ‘bad’ oestrogens and not enough ‘good’ oestrogens. Oestrogen exists in different forms in the body. Some of these forms are good for your body and are essential to female reproductive health. High levels of another hormone ‘prolactin’ may also be involved.
So why do you get painful heavy periods?
Dysmenorrhoea literally means ‘difficult monthly flow’ and is characterised by pain felt most acutely at the onset of menstruation. It can be dull aching or cramping abdominal pain and often extend to the lower back and upper thighs. In more severe cases, symptoms may also include headache, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
Menorrhagia is the term used for excessive/prolonged menstrual bleeding.
The causes of dysmenorrhoea and menorrhagia are often associated with other underlying health conditions such as thyroid imbalance, fibroids, cysts or endometriosis. All of these conditions contribute to weight gain.
In the case of dysmenorrhoea, the primary cause is due to inflammatory imbalance. It is a condition primarily associated with increased levels of certain prostaglandins (PGs) These are intimately involved in vasoconstriction of the endometrial vessels and contracting of smooth muscle tissue – causing strong period pain. So how does all this fit together? Higher levels of oestrogen stimulate high levels of PGs.
So, what interferes with your reproductive hormones?
Dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors play a vital part in the aetiology of female hormonal, menstrual and reproductive disorders; therefore addressing these issues must also play an integral part in management of your PMS.
You health is a barometer of your diet, lifestyle and environment – the female body is highly responsive to these influences and female reproductive health is grounded in the quality of a woman’s nutrition and the purity of her internal and external environment. Your hormonal, menstrual and reproductive health is an ‘expression of balance’.
Essentially, your PMS is a consequence of disturbances in hormonal production, elimination and metabolism. Hormones that underlie these disorders include gonadal hormones (e.g., oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, thyroid hormones and even stress hormones, e.g., cortisol. Disturbances in the balance of these hormones are the result of endogenous and exogenous factors such as environmental toxins, inflammation, stress, poor diet and lack of exercise. Addressing these factors must therefore be an integral part of your treatment strategy.
Narelle Stegehuis, CEO of MassAttack, is a practicing naturopath specializing in natural treatment programs for women with hormonal imbalance, such as PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis and Thyroid imbalance. Uniquely for patient convenience her programs are also offered via the Internet. She is both a prolific writer and recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award in 2006.
Share this post