Women with PMS know how painful the symptoms can be. Premenstrual symptoms can begin anywhere from five days to two weeks before you get your period. I’m one of the unlucky ones who starts noticing the first signs fourteen days out. Trust me when I say that I’ll try anything to relieve PMS symptoms. Not every woman experiences every symptom, but the ones you do get can seriously ruin your day.
I’m not a fan of taking medication if I can avoid it, so over the years, I’ve found natural remedies that help me feel better. I’m here to share them with you in hopes that you can feel a little better too. From handy household items to natural supplements, there are some excellent options to banish the “blah” feelings you experience every month. Try these tips to fight back when your period is bringing you down.
How to Reduce Bloating
Water retention is one of the most common PMS symptoms. Some women can gain as much as three to five pounds before their periods due to estrogen and progesterone fluctuations. The water-weight goes away, but feeling puffy and swollen is the worst. I feel it in my face first, which makes me super self-conscious. Here’s how you can beat the bloat.
Cut Down on Salt
Salt causes the body to retain water, so during PMS, it’s definitely not your friend. A natural remedy to help beat bloating due to water retention is to eat a low-sodium diet in the days leading up to your period. Cut down on processed meats, high-sodium broths and soups, and frozen dinners. It won’t cure bloating entirely, but it definitely helps.
Eat These Foods
I know you’re craving chocolate, but to reduce bloating, try eating more foods that are packed with nutrients like magnesium and potassium. Bananas are nature’s perfect snack for that reason. They’re a great way to fight the bloat of PMS. For more food ideas, check out the best leafy greens.
How to Relieve Cramps
I start getting cramps about a week before my period, and they get worse as the dreaded day approaches. If you get cramps, you know that the only thing you want to do that day is lay in bed. Unfortunately, you probably have places to go and people to see. Here are my go-to natural remedies to reduce cramps.
Water, Water, Water
Try to drink as much water as you can. It can help increase blood flow and relax your muscles and prevent spasms that cause painful cramps. Any way that you can get more water into your body works. You can eat more foods that are packed with H2O or use these tips to remind yourself to drink more water. I’ve also found that a nice warm mug of chamomile tea helps. It’s also soothing and helps reduce the stress that I feel during this time of the month.
Apply Heat to the Area
Use a heating pad, a hot water bottle, or take a long soothing bath when you’re at home to help reduce cramps. The heat relaxes your muscles and can soothe symptoms. I swear by heating pads and baths when I’m feeling the pain. Even just ten or fifteen minutes does the trick for me.
Do Some Yoga
I can’t handle a whole class when I’m feeling the pain. If you can, that’s awesome. It’s an excellent way to relieve cramps. Exercise of any kind helps reduce cramps by improving blood flow. But I’ve found that yoga works particularly well as it also helps stretch your muscles. Try these poses, like the bow pose, bridge pose, and camel pose to work out your lower abdominal muscles.
How to Beat Breakouts
Another way I can tell my period is fast approaching is by looking at my skin. My skin breaks out, usually along my jaw or hairline. The pimples are usually deep under my skin, so they’re painful and hard to pop. Women are particularly prone to cystic acne due to hormonal changes. I don’t know about you, but as a young professional, it makes me self conscious. Here’s how I control it.
Use Non-Comedogenic Makeup
It’s tempting to cake on as much foundation as you can to cover the bumps. I’m guilty of it. But makeup can clog your pores and make breakouts worse. If you can’t give up your makeup routine (I can’t), using the best non-comedogenic makeup is your best bet. It soothes your skin, hides blemishes, and won’t clog your pores.
Use a Gentle Cleanser
Since acne that results from hormonal changes often doesn’t respond well to over-the-counter medication, using an intense acne scrub may dry out your skin without solving the problem. Try washing your face with a gentle cleanser, free of salicylic acid, alcohol, or benzoyl peroxide.
Change Your Pillow Cases
Changing your pillowcases can help rid them of oil that builds on the fabric as your sleep. Have you ever been on your cellphone for a long time, and when you hung up, noticed the oil mark left on the screen? Your pillow collects oil just like that. As you sleep that oil gets deposited right back on your skin and can increase breakouts. Wash them in hot water and change them every few days to help beat breakouts.
How to Naturally Beat the Blues
Feeling blue is a major symptom of PMS, and several natural remedies can help give you a boost. I don’t know about you, but I find myself crying my eyes out over dog videos on the internet. You may have seen brands on social media that are pretty and pink, with cute names. These supplements are likely a combination of essential vitamins and minerals. Instead of paying the mark-up price, try generic versions instead.
Studies show that 50mg-100mg of B6 a day can help relieve PMS symptoms. The vitamin can help improve mood. Many women report feeling more sad or emotional than usual during PMS, as well as more irritable. In a double-blind trial, women reported lower levels of depression compared to placebo treatments.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is another natural supplement that many women find effective in treating low mood associated with PMS. However, the supplement does have negative interactions with some medications, so be sure to check with your doctor before adding it to your routine.
When to Seek Medical Advice
Always seek medical advice before adding a supplement to your diet. Additionally, if your PMS symptoms are so debilitating that you find yourself missing work or unable to participate in daily activities, it warrants a trip to the doctor. Discuss your concerns openly and never settle on a gynecologist you’re not entirely comfortable with.
Studies show that between 3% and 8% of women suffer from a condition known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), where serious emotional health issues arise. Women with PMDD experience extreme depression and anxiety, as well as heightened PMS symptoms that often require medical treatment.
Be open about your symptoms, and don’t dismiss them for being a typical experience from which many women suffer. PMDD can be a debilitating condition that keeps you from reaching your fullest self. Talk to your doctor to see what’s the best way to treat your symptoms.