9 out of 10 UK women suffer the effects of PMS, with symptoms ranging in severity from uncomfortable to agonous. If you’re struggling, we’ve got a few coping strategies to share…
According to monthly menstrual cycle subscription service box Pink Parcel , the average woman will have 450 periods during her lifetime, but as many of us know only too well, a period itself can be a breeze compared to what came before it. PMS can kick in up to two weeks before a period, and symptoms can be both emotional and physical in nature (joy of joys, they normally run the gamut of mind and body). From fatigue to mood swings to breast pain and backache, symptoms are wide, varied and unpleasant across the board. Visiting your GP to address your symptoms and rule out other potential health conditions should be the first port of call, but for days when you need additional support and relief, the following five tried and tested ideas could make you feel more human again.
Many old wives tales circulate regarding herbal remedies for PMS relief, but a promising option is krill oil, which, according to the British Dietetic Association, is a particularly well absorbed source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. Research shows that taking krill oil supplements can reduce the cramping associated with dysmenorrhea (period pain), and over a 90 day period, a small independent study of 29 women taking two capsules of Cleanmarine® for Women daily reported a 69% improvement in general symptoms. Broken down, symptom monitoring resulted in an 81% decrease in breast tenderness, a 70% decrease in headaches and a 69% decrease in bloating, amongst other positive symptomatic outcomes. A larger placebo controlled trial is now planned, but the beneficial profile of Cleanmarine® for Women goes beyond eco-harvested krill oil.
Targeted ingredients to alleviate PMS symptoms also include soy isoflavones, which in preliminary studies have a very encouraging impact in terms of improving PMS symptoms, including back pain, headaches and cramping. When combined with an energising B vitamin complex, mood-boosting rosemary oil and vitamin D3, which is associated with a lower rate of PMS, premenstrual pain and migraine according to the British Dietetic Association, incorporating Cleanmarine® for Women into your routine could well show PMS the door. The Cleanmarine® phospholipid krill oil has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as being from a well-managed, sustainable traceable fishery, plus it provides omega 3 as phospholipids, meaning that it delivers 60% more omega 3 to the cells than fish oil, offers faster absorption and doesn’t repeat like fish oil (nothing worse). Discuss supplementation with your GP, and give it three months to get to work on your symptoms.
Yoga teacher, food coach and founder of Rooted London Pandora Paloma has some PMS melters up her sleeve to aid relaxation and ease tension. She advocates going at your own pace, and thankfully perfecting bendy moves ain’t part of the anti-PMS programme.
“Very often when we think to use yoga poses as a way to reduce an ailment or pain, we default to think, “but I couldn’t possible find the time” or “but I can’t touch my toes”. Yes you need physical time to perform asanas but rest assured yoga is and has never been about touching your toes.”
“For PMS, I use Nadi Shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing, which has many benefits but mostly to support the natural energy channels of the body – shodhana means purification. It balances the masculine and feminine energies of the body – a great way to balance your hormones! Start cross-legged on your ankles and knees and take your left hand to your left knee. With your right, place your index and middle finger into your palm, your thumb on your right nostril and your ring finger just above your left nostril. Take an exhale and inhale through the left nostril, place your ring finger pad onto the nostril ad hold for a count of four, then breath out through your right nostril. Inhale right nostril, hold with your thumb for a count of four and then exhale left. This is one count and you can do as many as you need, or have time for. I tend to count to 10 breaths and then stop for a few minutes and then take another round of 10. You’ll instantly feel revived.”
“Wind releasing posture (don't be scared by the name) or Pawanmuktasana is a great asana (posture) for PMS. Lie on the floor and bring one knee into the chest and then gently move it into the armpit rotating the hip out slightly. Make sure that your tilt tailbone down and sacrum up to ensure your spine is fully connected to the floor. Breathe here for 5-10 breaths and then work the other side. This posture relieves aches and pains and of course, anything trapped that might need to be released.”
“Seated Twist is a gentle tonic for the spine and internal organs, which may feel heavy with PMS. Sit with legs extended in front of you and then cross left leg over right, with knees on top of each other (as much as you can), left foot flat next to right hip and vice versa. Place your left hand on the floor by your left hip and as you inhale, wrap your right arm around the left knee and twist your torso to the left. Hold for ten to 15 deep long breaths and then return to the start, switch sides and then repeat.”
The next tip will assist you on the breathing deeply and letting go front…
When you feel beaten by PMS symptoms, having a bit of aromatherapeutic expertise to hand can help you to feel better in yourself. Michelle Roques O’Neil is one of the most celebrated aromatherapists in the world, and in a career spanning over 30 years, she’s identified that one blend in particular hits a comforting note with PMS sufferers:
“One of the best essential oils for PMS pain is clary sage, diluted in almond and applied over the stomach. Clary sage is at the same time uplifting and soothing, and you’d use the almond oil as a carrier to dilute it. You would need about 2-3 drops to a tablespoon of almond oil, although there are certainly other carriers such as grapeseed or coconut oil that you could use too.”
“If you’d prefer to use something pre-blended, my Cherish Skin Repair Serum , £46, is particularly brilliant when suffering from PMS as it’s hormonally balancing and has a gentle sedating yet inspiriting effect on the psyche. It will bolster you when you’re feeling fragile.”
If, on the other hand, you feel that you need to let off some PMS steam, working up a sweat could provide much needed mental and physical relief.
Exercise your demons
It may seem counterintuitive when you’re experiencing cramping, bloating or headaches (or a charming symptom trilogy), but exercise is recommended by the NHS as a way to alleviate the low mood, tiredness, stress and sleep problems often brought on by the rude arrival of PMS. 1Rebel Master Trainer Esmée Gummer recommends tailoring your workout to the severity of your symptoms and state of mind, and remember that if you really feel that you can’t move from your sofa, that’s okay too.
Swimming: If you’re feeling bloated, Esmée swears by low impact activity such as swimming.
“Yes, you’re exercising, but you’re also naturally relaxing tension through motion. If you’re stomach feels swollen, it’s a good, comfortable option.”
HIIT: Another seemingly bonkers move, but HIIT can actually help when fatigue sets in.
“High Intensity Interval Training involves short bursts of energy over a limited amount of time. You’ll have 20 seconds of maximum effort before a short break, which keeps you engaged, not to mention sending energy levels through the roof.”
If you’re really exhausted, yoga as above might be a better physical fit, but milder bouts of tiredness can be zapped by way of burpees, etc.
Boxing: One for peak PMS stress.
“Nothing is more effective than the natural kick of endorphins released around your body. For an extra release try boxing – there’s nothing better than beating a bag down and feeling all your troubles melt away.”
Talk it out
Whether in the form of CBT , another psychological talking therapy or letting your boss and colleagues know that you’re affected by PMS , so would rather not take on stressful tasks at certain times in the calendar, discussing your physical and emotional symptoms with someone you trust can take the weight off your mind and help you to feel less anxious and isolated. Ensure that your partner and family are informed and aware of how you might be feeling while experiencing PMS, and for further support the National Association of Premenstrual Syndrome can provide information and resources. Keeping a premenstrual diary can help you to feel more in control and help you to receive the best care from medical services, and be mindful of the fact that if your mother experienced PMS, you’re more likely to, so that could prove to be a constructive conversation starter. The days of shutting down discussion of ‘women’s troubles’ are thankfully ebbing, in this part of the world at least, and it’s about time that frank, honest and open discussions about PMS were promoted at all ages, particularly given that PMS symptoms are generally more severe in teenage girls and women over their 40s, according to Bupa. In short, don’t suffer in silence. If you find any of the above tips helpful at all, we’d love to know- leave your comment below.
This feature was written in partnership with Cleanmarine® for Women
Cleanmarine® for Women , £23.99 for 60 capsules, buy online