When you first join ‘the club’ periods are an inconvenience, then you get PMS – a common disorder in women referring to physical and/or mood symptoms. Although not everyone experiences PMS (the lucky ones), approximately 85% of women do (Womens Health, 2017). Further complicating things is that each woman will experience different symptoms to different degrees of severity. Personally, ‘the pill’ has protected me from severe PMS for six years until now. Now, I really understand how PMS can interfere with daily living. Now, I find myself experiencing mood swings like clockwork each month. From crying for no apparent reason to writing ‘I want to punch everyone in the face.’ in my period tracker. (I haven’t punched anyone, yet).
It would be great if we could take a week or so out of ‘life’ to deal with our periods, hibernating from society and responsibilities BUT we can’t. Instead, we must continue working, meeting deadlines, socialising, and looking after ourselves and others. I have found that PMS and a co-occurring deadline is the worst. As a student, you have to attend lectures, keep socialising, sit exams and meet these deadlines, PMS or not. (I wonder if you’d get mitigating circumstances, probably not.)
I will stop complaining now, after all when you consider that periods come with the ability to procreate, it isn’t too bad a trade-off. (You can tell I don’t currently have PMS).
So, what can women do to try making life a little better and manage their PMS?
Firstly, it is a good idea to start tracking your periods. By tracking them you can identify the PMS symptoms you experience along with the patterns them. Once you’ve gotten to know your patterns you can prepare and handle them, making your life easier. Apps like Flo even give you advice tailored to your symptoms. If, like me, you experience increased feelings of anxiety with your PMS, knowing that PMS is the cause can simply give you peace of mind that you’re not being irrational.
Once you have identified your symptoms and when they usually occur you can do a few small changes to cope with and lessen the PMS you experience:
- Accept your PMS, you are ‘normal’, PMS is ‘normal’, and allow your emotions to just be.
- Let people know if you feel as though your PMS is interfering with your relationships. By sharing your PMS status, as I have experienced, others tend to be understanding and are less confused by PMS-related actions.
- Vitamin supplements, such as calcium and vitamin D can reduce PMS symptoms, supplements that have omega-3s can lessen irritability and reduce PMS aches.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption as their effects can enhance PMS symptoms.
- Exercise can help PMS by alleviating depressive feelings and tiredness. Especially meditation exercise such as yoga and pilates as they also help you relax.
- Stay hydrated to lessen PMS symptoms such as tiredness and headaches.
If you still find your PMS is interfering with your life too much then make an appointment with your GP who can discuss more treatment, such as hormonal contraception. For more information click here.