For centuries women have been led to believe the monthly PMS prior to a period is normal, well what we know is that it is not normal, and it may be a sign of an underlying hormone imbalance.
With PMS so common amongst friends and family as women we have become to believe it is almost an expected thing that we just have to deal with each month. But what if we didn’t have to struggle with the bloating, the mood swings and cramps and our cycle just arrived without any drama?
Let’s look at PMS a bit closer
PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) is a set of symptoms prior to your period that can occur due to many factors. It can be a mix of hormonal imbalances that can contribute to PMS encouraging the body to behave in a way that can often feel
hard to control.
Because our hormones directly work on our brains, we can have symptoms such as irritability, feeling overly teary or moods, depression, anxiety, anger, and the list goes on. Now as mums this can be amplified by the fact that we are also dealing with young children, work life balance and relationships. The juggle and increased stress already put extra stress on our brain health, and then on top of that when women have a hormone imbalance it can really cause havoc. Every woman has a slightly different hormone profile, once you can identify your hormone type it can be easier to start taking action with your symptoms and say goodbye to PMS for good.
Common symptoms of PMS can start up to two weeks prior to a period and are often due to a drop in progesterone and commonly an increase in oestrogens. This is known as oestrogen dominance and is the main hormone imbalance in women struggling with PMS, heavy periods, fibroids, endometriosis, and hormonal weight gain. When these two hormones are behaving badly there can be a whole mix of PMS symptoms such as:
• Breast tenderness
• Mood changes
• Bowel changes
• Sleep disturbances
• Sugar cravings
With hormone imbalance being the main driver behind this, let’s look at what the factors are that cause so many women to suffer from PMS
Stress – an increase in stress can decrease the bodies’ ability to make progesterone, and more specifically a metabolite of progesterone called allopregnanolone.
Allopregnanolone binds to receptors in the brain promoting calm and ease. Without adequate amounts of this women can suffer with many of the mood related disorders prior to a period, such as the insomnia, irritability, and anxiety.
Poor gut health – alongside stress a woman’s gut health can be a huge driver in PMS and hormone imbalance. The gut microbiome is heavily responsible in the processing of our oestrogens. When we see women struggling with bloating, irritable bowels, reflux, constipation, or bacterial overgrowth there is an increased chance that the oestrogen cannot leave the body as it should. This higher load of oestrogen can contribute to bloating, breast tenderness, infertility, weight gain and even heavy periods.
Liver congestion – the liver is one of our main organs responsible for hormone detox. There are two main pathways in our liver that help to ensure all toxins and hormones are moving out through the body correctly. If one of these pathways is imbalanced it can promote oestrogens to re-circulate back through the body promoting oestrogen dominance.
Your hormone profile
Advanced DUTCH hormone testing (Dried Urine Testing for Comprehensive Hormones) can be a useful way to identify which hormone profile a woman has. It not only identifies your hormone levels, but also the way the hormones are dealt with in the body. This gives us an in-depth picture to determine what is driving the hormone imbalance. Such as liver health, stress, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, and neurotransmitter levels. With dried urine testing we can get a more accurate picture than blood as it includes our free hormones.
Unlike blood testing which can only identify hormones bound to a protein, urine testing can see our “free” hormones. This is a great way to truly see what hormone profile you have and where the problem lays.
Where to start with reducing your PMS and balancing your hormones
Self-care – we hear a lot about self-care nowadays but the more we support our stress the better we can make progesterone. Self-care can be as easy as going to bed early, having a bath, taking some deep breaths, or laying with your legs up on the wall to activate your de-stress system.
Support your gut – cut down on the foods that promote gut imbalance such as sugars, alcohol, and excess gluten. Adding collagen powder to your smoothies to support gut healing, take a good quality pre and pro biotic and keep your water above 1.5L to
aid hydration for the bowels.
Consult a naturopathic practitioner to help you understand your hormone profile.