f you’re a menstruating person, you can’t expect to feel the same every day, and hormones impact your mood!

By: Dr. Janine Buisman Wilcox, ND

It’s normal to feel more things and be less motivated premenstrually, and it’s normal to feel an increase in libido around ovulation; it’s normal to need more rest around menstruation. Your hormones impact your body’s fuel requirements, your sleep needs, how you interpret facial expressions, etc. 

But PMS/PMDD is no joke. Close to 90% of women will experience at least one symptom. Common symptoms include depression, irritability, insomnia, crying spells, social withdrawal, headache, bloating, digestive symptoms, breast tenderness, etc. These symptoms begin after ovulation and should resolve entirely soon after menstruation starts. 

2-8% of people experience PMDD – Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – a much more severe form of PMS which SIGNIFICANTLY impacts one’s quality of life. This condition can be painful, and the risk of suicidality from PMDD is higher than that of major depression. 

The first step to treating PMS/PMDD is awareness. The Daily Record of Severity of Problems is a great tracker, and there are several helpful menstrual apps as well. I always encourage patients to use a tracker or app for a few reasons: 

– To understand if it’s genuinely PMS/PMDD or an exacerbation of another condition. – To monitor the effectiveness of our treatment plan over time. 

– To bring awareness to where we are at in our cycles. Symptoms of PMS/PMDD can feel very overwhelming and uncontrollable sometimes. If we know they are coming because we have dates on our calendar; we can prepare for them, and it feels less irrational 

– Many women do better at this time in their cycle with time for inward creativity. Inward creativity is usually pretty low on most people’s priority lists. Tracking can allow us to schedule that time in. 

From a diet and lifestyle perspective, some factors to keep in mind. Research shows that lifestyle – especially healthy eating habits, sleep, and smoking can influence PMS significantly. PMS and PMDD are likely caused and are aggravated by chronic stress and/or trauma. As the intensity of life goes up, your brain becomes more and more sensitive to the drop of hormones that’s happening. 

It’s normal to feel things more deeply and be less motivated premenstrually, but it’s not typical for that premenstrual period to rule your life. 

There are several lifestyle recommendations, nutritional and botanical supplements, and medications that can be considered in the treatment of PMS/PMDD. If you’re suffering, reach out. These treatment options can make a world of difference.

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