PMS: The days before your menstrual period

Camilla Freinek Camilla Freinek
from Camilla Freinek, BSc MSc
on 01.03.2022

Why is it that yesterday you were completely at ease with yourself and the world and today everything is completely upside down?  You hate your face in the mirror, your bra pinches, chocolate is irresistable – and your partner is also getting on your nerves. Just take a look at the calendar! It is quite possible that you are just before your period and that PMS has you firmly in its grip. But what do you do if you become a victim of your hormones every month?

What is PMS?

Almost every woman has experienced premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in her body or via her moods. For everyone it’s different, because PMS includes a range of more than 150 physical and mental symptoms that occur in varying intensity and frequency in the days before your period, but then disappear once it starts.

Approximately 25% of all women suffer from this phenomenon every month, whereby the main complaints affect those over 30. Approximately 3 to 8% of women suffer from a particularly stressful form of PMS, so-called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDS). Those affected turn into a different person in the second half of the cycle – they behave in an unusually tearful, depressed, irritable and sometimes even highly aggressive manner.

It is the days before a period when many women suddenly feel uncomfortable in their own skin. The recurrent ups and downs of hormones not only decide on the fertile and infertile days of a woman, but can also darken physical and mental well-being.

What are the causes of PMS?

The exact triggers of PMS are still not fully known despite decades of research. It is certain that PMS is cycle-dependent. This is because the symptoms always occur in the second half of the cycle – when progesterone increases and the oestrogen level decreases. But not every woman reacts in the same way to hormone fluctuations. For example, amongst women with an identical hormone status, there are some who suffer from PMS, whilst others do not.

This brings additional factors into play. In addition to lifestyle and genes that make certain hormones more sensitive, there is the influence of various messenger substances and hormones (including melatonin, prolactin and cortisol). The happiness hormone serotonin, whose concentrations drop gradually in the second half of your cycle before they hit rock bottom shortly before your period, could be of particular interest in this context. Women with PMS seem to be lacking a big dose of happiness in particular, because they generally have less serotonin than women who experience the second half of their cycle without symptoms.

How long does PMS last?

The premenstrual syndrome is a condition that affects the second half of the cycle and can wreak havoc a few days to a full two weeks before your period. The symptoms improve radically once your period starts.

Typical PMS symptoms

Your breasts are taut, you back painful, you break out in spots and your mood is at rock bottom. PMS is a real kaleidoscope that illustrates different facets in every woman. Some of those affected can be plagued by one or two symptoms only, whilst others experience a whole spectrum of symptoms.

Typical physical PMS symptoms include:

  • Taut breasts
  • Bloating
  • Cravings or loss of appetite
  • Feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Distended abdomen
  • Weight gain
  • Hot flushes, sweating
  • Skin blemishes
  • Circulatory problems including dizziness

Typical psychological changes during PMS are:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of desire
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression

What helps with PMS? Our natural tips:

Healthy comfort food. When we are in the grip of PMS, our desire for sweet and salty food increases. Nevertheless, we should remain firm and show this unhealthy comfort food the cold shoulder. It is now generally recognised that we can get through PMS better with a healthy diet. Fresh vegetables, whole grain products, legumes, fish, cold-pressed vegetable oils and nuts and seeds provide us with plenty of vital substances, keep blood sugar levels stable and can help us to get a grip on extreme hunger attacks.
Micronutrient companion. In order to help us to feel more lighthearted even on the days before menstruation, certain micronutrients can be used as a support. Vitex agnus-castus (also called Vitex, Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, Abraham's Balm or Monk's Pepper) is particularly recommended, as it can alleviate physical and psychological symptoms before and during your period due to its hormone compensating effect. In addition to calcium and vitamin D, a good iron supply also reduces the risk of PMS and also fights fatigue and exhaustion. Vitamin B6, which regulates hormone activity and is important for the formation of the two mood enhancers dopamine and serotonin, is also beneficial.
Goodbye to stimulants. The traditional stimulants of “civilised society”, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, can trigger symptoms before menstruation. If we do without these stimulants in the second half of our cycle, this may alleviate the symptoms of PMS.
Treat yourself to peace and quiet. Stress and a lack of sleep not only strains our nerves but can worsen existing symptoms. It is therefore all the more important to treat yourself to enough sleep and rest breaks in the days before menstruation. We can also reduce stress and regain more lightheartedness through relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or a substantial forest bath.
Get active. On the days before menstruation, your oestrogen level decreases – and with it yourwell-being. Even if we would prefer just to lie on the couch, movement can do us good right now. Happiness hormones are released, water deposits are removed more quickly. At the same time, our circulation is increased and uterine cramps become less tense, which can alleviate pain in the lower abdomen and back.
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Premium supplement for the hormonal balance of women

  • Monk's pepper makes you feel good before and during menstruation
  • Vitamin B6 helps regulate hormone activity
  • Magnesium, iron and vitamin B2 play a role in reducing tiredness and fatigue- Gingko supports mental performance
  • With plant extracts ginkgo biloba, pine bark (Pycnogenol®) and monk's pepper for well-being and balance
Nutrifem P-M-S- Formula®
Nutrifem P-M-S Formula ®
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