PMS - The Unwelcomed Visitor

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Growing up, periods and Premenstrual Syndrome were not talked about. The only time anyone ever used the term “PMS” was to describe a woman who was having mood swings. “She must have PMS,” [insert eyeroll here]. I remember having the worst cramps, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. My mother was not sympathetic to any of this. Perhaps it was cultural, or at least that is what I would tell myself. I took some ibuprofen (because that fixed everything in the late 80’s-90’s) and kept on going. If I had asked to stay home from school because my cramps were bad, I may not be alive to share this story with you today! LOL!

When my daughter started her period, I quickly realized that she had the same symptoms I did. I felt terrible for her. I thought I had passed on some horrible PMS gene. I knew that what she was experiencing was real, but would she have to endure the misery that I did month-after-month for decades?


What exactly is this monthly unwelcomed visitor? Let’s break this down:

Who?

According to womanshealth.gov over 90% of woman (basically, ALL of us. Right?!) experience symptoms of PMS.

When?

“Pre” = Before.
“Menstrual” refers to menstruation = Period.

Usually, like clockwork the week before your period is scheduled to start, (or if you are like me and have the most “irregular” body in the entire world and never know if your period is coming or going) women experience a wide range of symptoms. Of course, there is no test for PMS. So ladies, we are on our own to get to know our bodies and figure this out! For most women the symptoms reside after the first 2-3 days of their period starting.

What?

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  • Physically symptoms can include:

  • Headache/Backache

  • Bloating

  • Nausea

  • Cramping

  • Sore/tender breasts

  • Swelling of the limbs

  • Acne

  • Cravings

  • Constipation and/or diarrhea (oh, the irony)

If that is not enough, mentally this can include:

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

  • Social withdrawal

  • Fatigue

  • Stress

  • Depression

  • Lower sex drive

  • Anxiety

  • Trouble concentrating

Why? [queue crickets]

I will leave this right here: It is 2018 and there is no actual answer for “Why does PMS occur?” Researchers know that our progesterone and estrogen levels change throughout the monthly cycle, but they have yet to pinpoint an exact cause.

Even without a cause, ask any woman who can’t sleep, who craves Reeses Pieces at 3am, who’s boobies hurt when the shower water hits them, who has swollen hands, and who cries when she hears the very first note of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” come on the radio, and she will tell you PMS is very REAL.

So ladies, we may not know exactly why it happens, but there are steps we can take to fight back! (Or at least ease the symptoms a bit, and get through it.)

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  • Start a tracking log, or download an app like Flo, to keep track of your period, symptoms, and when they occur.

  • Avoid sugar, fat, alcohol, and caffeine (basically everything you are craving?!)

  • Sleep! Practice good sleep hygiene.

  • Exercise. Even when we feel crampy and crappy, go for a relaxing walk, practice yoga, stretch.

  • Keep hydrated! Keep that Hydroflask on you at all times.

Also, please see your physician for any prolonged symptoms. Trust your instinct, as there may be other medical issues that need to be addressed.


Today, my daughter who is 23, still has her monthly lows, but she is very aware of when it is coming. I often have to remind her that it will be better in few days, and to hang in there.

As for me, I had a hysterectomy last year. I will share that story with you another day, but guess what?! I still have OVARIES, which produce hormones. I still ovulate without a uterus. SO, I STILL GET PMS! YAY for PMS, right?! Sigh.

For the next couple of weeks we will have guest bloggers! I am excited to share this page with a bunch of talented ladies (and hopefully, throw a man or two in the mix in the future). If you have questions or comments, please reach out to me: sabrina@pmsbox.co or IG: sabrinampaul xo


Sources:

https://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/10/31/pms/

https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome

https://www.verywellhealth.com/do-i-have-pms-3522569

Sabrina Paul