03 October 2010

Menstruation was very painful this month

While I had an excellent PMS, my periods were not so excellent this month.

I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I didn't exercise much, I was working insane hours and had too much pressure at work.

My stomach bloated up so much this month that I looked like I was 4-5 months pregnant. I couldn't button up my pants properly and they're made from a stretchy material!

This photo here, of a pregnant woman, is about as big as my stomach actually became!

Not only that, but I was also feeling very dizzy, like I was about to pass out any moment. That was a bit scary, especially when I was driving to work and felt this way on the highway!

I also felt very nauseous, like I wanted to throw up so badly, even though there was no reason for me to feel sick like that.

I generally don't have such painful menstruation and have only experienced these types of symptoms only a few times before.

PMS has improved quite a lot

This month, PMS was not so bad again. I just had about 1-2 days of the PMS emotional symptoms which were ameliorated when I told myself that it was just PMS and not real.

While I could tell I had PMS as my emotions were more intense and my thoughts were a bit emotional at times, I didn't have the really irrational thoughts that overwhelmed me to the point where I thought I was going to go crazy from them, like what used to happen to me during PMS before.

I used to get PMS so bad before that those erratic thoughts just totally overwhelmed me and I felt absolutely awful before. It felt like I was not in control of my emotions or thoughts (I knew I was, but with the intensity of my emotions it felt like I wasn't).

My emotions were a bit more intense, but very recognisable as PMS and the trick I use (telling myself it's only PMS, that it's not real and will go away), helps me to manage those PMS thoughts and see sense.

And even though I havent been exercising enough this past month and have been under incredible pressure at work and I have been working over 50 hours each week, I still have managed not to get terrible PMS symptoms, only the 1-2 days just prior to my periods. That is so brilliant!

All my tactics and strategies to manage PMS naturally, are obviously working well. Thank goodness!

25 July 2010

Exercise helps to improve PMS-PMDD symptoms

A number of studies recommend exercise as a way to relieve PMS symptoms.

Exercise is a great way to not only increase aerobic conditioning of the body (especially the lungs) and improve muscle tone, it is also a beneficial technique to use to help alleviate PMS symptoms, prevent worsening of symptoms and reduce likelihood of severe symptoms in the future.

Studies evaluated whether strength training (or resistance training) vs aerobic training exercises for women with PMS and while both types of exercise are very beneficial and improve symptoms of PMS, it seems that aerobic exercise helps to improve symptoms a lot more than strength training alone.

One study also evaluated whether a high intensity training regime or lower intensity one was more beneficial for reducing PMS and managing mood and other symptoms of PMS. The study found that low impact training was better for managing the mood problems of PMS, whereas high intensity training made mood problems associated with PMS worse.

One study which reviewed previous studies on the efficacy of exercise on PMS symptoms found that while exercise did help to reduce PMS symptoms, more stringent and larger studies needed to be done in order to confirm the studies results. While this is a good idea, it does seem, from the studies conducted so far, that exercise, especially regular aerobic is necessary to ensure PMS symptoms are reduced.

  • Cockerill IM, Nevill AM, Byrne NC. Mood, mileage and the menstrual cycle. Br J Sports Med. 1992 Sep;26(3):145-50. Accessed 26 July 2010
  • Daley A. Exercise and premenstrual symptomatology: a comprehensive review. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Jun;18(6):895-9
  • Daley A. The role of exercise in the treatment of menstrual disorders: the evidence. Br J Gen Pract. 2009 Apr;59(561):241-2. Accessed 26 July 2010
  • Dickerson LM, Mazyck PJ, Hunter MH. Premenstrual syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Apr 15;67(8):1743-52. Accessed 26 July 2010
  • Steege JF, Blumenthal JA. The effects of aerobic exercise on premenstrual symptoms in middle-aged women: A preliminary study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 37, Issue 2, February 1993, Pages 127-133

Have some mild PMS symptoms at the moment

I am at day 26 of my cycle.

This means PMS is back!

This month, it is again, not too severe. The only aspect which is more pronounced is the fluid retention and weight gain, especially in my stomach and breasts (as usual). But at least I don't have major pain.

The other major symptoms I have had this month are: food cravings for sweet foods (especially my favourite chocolate) and some emotional lows.

I haven't done much about the food cravings (I give into them), but I have been able to prevent my emotions from escalating, by telling myself, "It's only PMS and not a real emotion" a few times, after which my mental status comes back to normal. It just takes a few seconds of repeating this to myself to stop the false mood swing to negativity. Thank goodness!

I have found that the more I exercise, the more fluid I pass through my urine and the better my fluid retention symptoms get. Exercise increases circulation and also helps the lymphatic system remove any excess fluids.

I'll keep doing the exercises every day (about 35-45 minutes) and that should help a lot.

20 July 2010

Acupressure is useful for period pain

Wind Pool (Feng Chi) acupressure point
There are a number of acupressure points which may be useful in helping to relieve menstrual pain and cramps.

The main pressure point is the one on the spleen, SP6, which helps to dramatically reduce acute period pain and cramping very quickly.

There are additional acupressure points, which also help reduce pain and cramping.
  • The Sea of Energy (Qi Hai) - this is located two finger widths below the belly button. Also called Conception Vessel (CV) 6. The CV-6 point is also used to treat digestion problems, edema, and bloating.
  • The Inner Pass (Nei Guan) - this is located approximately 5 cm (or 2 inches) from the wrist on the inner arm. Also known as Pericardium (PC) 6. This point has also been demonstrated, in clinical studies, to relieve vomiting and abdominal problems during pregnancy.
  • The Union Valley (He Gu) - this is located in the webbing between the thumb and the forefinger. Also known as Large Intestine (LI) 4. This point is believed to aid in any problem involving chronic pain.
  • The Wind Pool (Feng Chi) - this is located at the rear of the skull about two to three inches from the ear. Also called Gall Bladder (GB) 20. The GB-20 point is often prescribed for headache and hypertension.
  • The Leg Three Li (Zu San Li) - this is located about one finger width from the juncture of the tibia on the outside of the leg. Also known as Stomach (ST) 36. The ST-36 point is also used to relieve any other issue involving the stomach or spleen.
  • The Middle Gate (Mu Guan) - this is located about one finger width from the wrist crease on the palm. This is an extra point discovered by Master Tong, although it is on the Pericardium (PC) pathway. Mu Guan is also used for heel pain.
When doing any acupressure, use gentle pressure in a circle-like motion on the point, never press too hard and if there is any pain, stop and consult your doctor.

  1. AltMD: Smart Alternatives. Acupressure for Menstrual Cramps. Accessed 20 July 2010. www.altmd.com/Articles/Acupressure-for-Menstrual-Cramps
  2. Lark SM. Acupressure for Menstrual Cramps. Excerpted from The Menopause Self Help Book, Celestial Arts, 1996. Accessed 20 July 2010 www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=1371

Acupressure helps to relieve period pain

Photo: Ageless Herbs
Many women suffer from menstrual pain and need a more effective way to manage the pain than painkillers, which have their own set of side effects and other issue.

The best way to manage period pain is to use acupressure points on the body.

Acupressure is an ancient Oriental healing method which uses gentle to firm pressure on certain parts of the body to prevent and treat illness, including pain. Acupressure has been used for centuries in the East.

The acupressure point for relieving period pain, pictured above, is located on the inner side of the leg (either leg), about 5cm (or 2 inches) above the inner ankle. You can tell you have found the right point, as it will be a little more painful or tender than the surrounding area. Only use gentle pressure to gentle massage it in small, circular motion.

This acupressure point is known as the spleen 6 and is located on the spleen meridian,which influences the digestive system, so it means it is also useful for other hormonal disorders, like irregular menstruation, as well as immune system issues.

  1. Lark SM. Acupressure for Menstrual Cramps. Excerpted from The Menopause Self Help Book, Celestial Arts, 1996. Accessed 20 July 2010 www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=1371
  2. Los Angeles Chinese Learning Centre. A Few Commonly Used Acupuncture Points. Accessed 20 July 2010. chinese-school.netfirms.com/acupuncture-points.html

Painkillers are not the best way to relieve menstrual pain

Period pain, like PMS is the bane of many women's existence.

Some women experience such severe pain, that it is unbearable without some type of medical pain relief.

Period pain can be so severe that it requires the use of very strong analgesics (pain medications), even really strong opioid-type drugs (narcotics), such as pethidine to ameliorate the pain for some women.

Taking strong painkillers on a regular basis, is not advised by any medical professional, nevertheless any alternative health care provider, because they do have side effects and the more you use, the more regularly you use them, the higher the risks of side effects rises.

In addition to this, the opioid-type painkillers are addictive, which causes another set of problems in itself. It's much better to try natural ways to relieve pain.

Natural pain relief does not have the same set of risks associated with painkillers and it can help to prevent the pain becoming worse over time.

19 July 2010

Some women can tell when they ovulate

Many women can tell when they are ovulating, as they experience a number of symptoms at the time of ovulation.

Ovulation is defined as the time in the menstrual cycle when an egg is released from one of the ovaries, down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus, ready to be fertilised and implanted.

Ovulation happens every month for most women, except during pregnancy and during most of breastfeed (although some women have become pregnant as they continue to ovulate during breastfeeding, it is the exception rather than the norm).

Ovulation is also the time after which PMS symptoms and PMDD symptoms start in a great number of menstruating women.

The main symptoms that women can feel during ovulation are:
  • Higher body temperature - the basal body temperature increases slightly during ovulation and some experts recommend you take your temperature before you get out of bed to determine if you are ovulating
  • Pain - it can be general in the pelvic area, or localised to either one ovary and occur near the pelvic bone
  • Vaginal discharge - the vagina will secrete more and thicker mucous during ovulation
So if you're feeling that twinge of pain in the lower abdomen and have thicker vaginal discharge, you know it's most likely because one of your ovaries is releasing an egg in preparation for pregnancy. If the pain is not consistent with this, get it checked out.

Regarding ovulation, there are kits available which can test you to determine if you are ovulating. These tests are specifically aimed at women who want to know when they are ovulating in order to have sex with their partner and have a higher chance of getting pregnant. This is because the highest chance of pregnant occurs during ovulation.

09 July 2010

PMS is a real and severe health issue for many women

Women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), from mild to very severe (and severe PMS is described as having premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD) have a number of symptoms which compromise and adversely affect their quality of life and the level this is affected depends on the level of symptoms experiences - the worse the symptoms, the more adversely the quality of life is affected.

Scientists have been looking at women with PMS and have come to the conclusion that women who experience PMS symptoms experience lowered quality of life as they cannot function properly (whether it is in their relationships, work, social life) and this causes increased medical costs through more visits to doctors and subsequent lab test. It also causes indirect costs to employers through lowered productivity when a woman experiences severe PMS symptoms and cannot function or think as effectively as she normally does when not in PMS.

Women with severe PMS symptoms, especially the mental symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger can be so impaired in their ability to function normally (when not in the time of PMS), that it can cause an impairment in interpersonal or workplace functioning.

Interpersonal conflicts are common for women with PMS and that can cause a great deal of unnecessary stress in a workplace or for a woman's interpersonal relationships, which if not treated effectively and continues to escalate unabated, can mean those relationships cease to exist and employment may go on to be terminated. This of course, compounds the issue and it becomes a vicious circle.

Women with PMS must seek effective treatment for the symptoms of PMS in order to maintain a better quality of life and in order not to suffer the symptoms of this, often, debilitating condition.

Your doctor can use a Premenstrual Symptoms Screening Tool (PSST) to help you determine how PMS symptoms are affecting your life.

There are adequate (and natural) ways to control PMS (and even the condition known as PMDD).

  1.  Choi D, Lee DY, Lehert P, Lee IS, Kim SH, Dennerstein L. The impact of premenstrual symptoms on activities of daily life in Korean women. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2010 Mar;31(1):10-5
  2.  Freeman EWSondheimer SJ. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Recognition and Treatment. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2003; 5(1): 30–39. Accessed 8 July 2010
  3. Mishell DR Jr. Premenstrual disorders: epidemiology and disease burden. Am J Manag Care. 2005 Dec;11(16 Suppl):S473-9. Accessed 8 July 2010
  4. Pearlstein T, Steiner M. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: burden of illness and treatment update. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2008 Jul;33(4):291-301. Accessed 8 July 2010

Antidepressants and oral contraceptives - dont work for PMDD

A recent study2 which reviewed data from studies dating from 1990 to 2008 to research those randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of anti-depressant and combined oral contraceptives (COCs) to determine how much of an effect they had on women with symptoms of PMS and  symptoms of PMDD.

After reviewing the data, measurements and outcome of all of the large-scale studies, the authors of the review2 noted that once the placebo effect was discounted, the actual results showed that the percentage of women who had a beneficial outcome from using SSRIs or COCs was not much more than the women who did not have any benefit from using these medications. In other words, women who used SSRIs or contracetives had the same level of PMS/PMDD symptoms as women who did not use the medications.

The authors of the review2 also noted that around 40% of women with PMS/PMDD symptoms did not have a positive outcome from using the SSRIs medications - their symptoms did not improve. They also stated that treatment with COCs also does not substantially improve the symptoms in women with PMS/PMDD.

The authors of the review2 suggested that "additional alternative targeted treatment modalities need to be developed" for more adequate treatment of PMS/PMDD than is currently available.

Other studies recently suggest that anti-depressants don't help people with mild to moderate depression and as depression can be one of the symptoms of severe PMS/PMDD, that suggests again, quite clearly, that anti-depressants are not going to help women with severe PMS/PMDD symptoms either.

A recent review1,3 of a number of randomised studies of people using anti-depressants for depression found that there was little evidence that anti-depressants have an effect that is any different to a placebo for people with mild to moderate depression.  In other words, using anti-depressants and using placebos (no drug) have the same effect.

  1. Fournier JC, DeRubeis RJ et al. Antidepressant Drug Effects and Depression Severity: A Patient-Level Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2010;303(1):47-53. Accessed 8 July 2010
  2. Halbreich U. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and initial oral contraceptives for the treatment of PMDD: effective but not enough. CNS Spectr. 2008 Jul;13(7):566-72. Accessed 8 July 2010 
  3. Silverman E. Antidepressants Don’t Help Mild Depression: Study. Pharmalot online. 5 January 2010. Accessed 8 July 2010

28 June 2010

PMS symptoms are surprisingly decreasing

Apollonie Sabatier, Vincent Vidal
I am at day 27 of my menstrual cycle.

This means it is really close to menstruation and when I should be experiencing more intense PMS symptoms, but I am seemingly not, as compared to say, about a week ago, or so, when I was feeling the effects of PMS quite keenly.

I still have some fluid retention, but markedly less than before and certainly not as bad as it was last week. My emotions seem to be quite level, without any major highs or lows or mood swings and my mind is clear and functioning really well. Almost like I don't have PMS at all!

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I have been taking the Homeopathic medicine - General Tonic, Comb 12, which has the 12 tissue salts, that are supposed to be good for overall fatigue and exhaustion. This formula has a number of mineral salts in a specific ratio, which are thought to help the nervous system especially, but all the organs and tissues of the body to recover from any illness by helping it function in a more healthy way.

So while I have described the stress I have been exposed to recently, which has been unrelenting and which has precipitated the worse PMS symptoms of last week, since I have been taking the Comb 12 tissue salts, I have noticed a marked improvement in my symptoms, as I have outlined here. It's brilliant. I definitely did not want to go back to the horrendous PMS symptoms I used to get before, so this is fabulous to know that such a simple solution could be so effective in reducing symptoms.

I have also been exercising a bit more recently and have been diligently taking the iron supplement (as I am iron deficient) and I think those are also helping too.

The fluid retention I experience during PMS

Fluid retention is one of the factors of PMS that I experience basically every month, to a varying degree. It used to be much worse.

This month, I have experienced, for two days, very bad fluid retention. My stomach just jutted out so much (when it doesn't normally) and it felt uncomfortable when I was sitting down. Additionally, my breasts and nipples were so bloated with fluid that I looked like I was breastfeeding and besides which it hurt a lot!  I have had a little of fluid retention since that and before that, but not to that extent.

These are profound physical changes which would not occur at any other time than after  ovulation and just before the menstrual cycle starts.

I have been taking some homeopathic medicine which has helped a great deal to stop that much fluid retention and pain associated with it.

The homeopathic medicine I have been using is the General Tonic with the 12 tissue salts, which is for overall fatigue and exhaustion. They work on all the organs and tissues of the body to help it recover and function normally and obviously are an excellent way to prevent the fluid retention for me. I think because they work on the nervous system to make it more functional and to reduce any anxiety/stress, this helps me greatly.

27 June 2010

How much very severe PMS or PMDD used to affect me

Several years ago, I used to get excruciatingly bad PMS symptoms that could be described to be PMDD (which many experts do not believe exists and I agree).

I used to feel like I had a band of emotional pressure in my head, which would make me want to scream out loud - the pressure felt almost physical it was that bad. I just felt so awful and the intensity of the mood swings and emotions I experienced, were so terrible mostly because they were completely uncontrollable. I was so angry, my mood was totally volatile, I cried at the drop of a hat and felt very offended by anything anyone said to me, no matter how innocuous it was. I couldn't think properly, I couldn't sleep properly, felt very anxious and jittery, I was crying a lot, I felt resentful and angry at everyone and everything - I was very emotionally unbalanced. My mind seemed my worst enemy, with the intense negative emotions coming to a crazy crescendo just on the last day prior to menstruation. And when my periods arrived, it seemed the pressure valve inside my head was suddenly released and my brain could function normally again. I would no longer feel emotionally volatile once the bleeding started.

I went to see a doctor about it (my regular doctor wasn't available, so I saw a substitute) and he recommended I take the contraceptive pill all month long, for about one year, so that I didn't have any periods at all, thinking that would stop my very severe PMS symptoms! Total rubbish advice.  Artificially suppressing menstruation in that way is not healthy for the body and of course I did not take his advice.

When I was able to see my doctor, he recommended I see a gynaecologist to get further advice. The gynaecologist recommended I go on the contraceptive pill with a high level of oestrogen and progesterone. She also recommended anti-depressants and gave me a script for some to take in the two weeks prior to menstruation, but if I couldn't remember, then just to take it all month.

Again, rubbish advice!

I decided to do some research to find out exactly what causes PMS and how I could combat it to feel better again. I discovered that only with perseverance and hard work, I could reduce the symptoms and feel like a normal person. I used certain supplement, better diet choices, more exercise, massage and meditation, which when combined did greatly assist me. I also visited a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who provided some acupuncture and that was a catalyst for positive changes.

Let me re-iterate:

PMDD is not a mental disorder and some experts are finally challenging its classification as a mental disorder when it is clearly tied into the menstrual cycle. If the symptoms occurred all month at the same level, then it would give some indication that it may be a mood disorder, but since it does not, it is clear that it is not.

There are alternatives to taking anti-depressants and the contraceptive pill, which are viable and better for your health overall.

PMDD is not a mental disorder - it is just severe PMS

Vincent Van Gogh - Sorrow
 The condition PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder) is a type of PMS which is much worse than regular PMS symptoms, especially in terms of the emotional symptoms.

According to a peer reviewed article reprinted by the American Academy of Physicians, they describe PMDD as:

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (DSM-IV), PMDD is classified as “depressive disorder not otherwise specified” and emphasizes emotional and cognitive-behavioral symptoms.2  At least five of the 11 specified symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of PMDD (Table 1).1  These symptoms should be limited to the luteal phase and should not represent amplification of preexisting depression, anxiety, or personality disorder. In addition, they must be confirmed prospectively by daily rating for at least two consecutive menstrual cycles. A symptom-free period during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle is essential in differentiating PMDD from preexisting anxiety and mood disorders.

This means, PMDD has been given status as a serious mental disorder in the vein of major depression and bipolar disorder and in fact, some scientists believe that some women who experience PMDD are depressed, which is why anti-depressants are prescribed.

There are a number of experts who find fault with this diagnosis of PMDD as a mental disorder, notwithstanding that mental disorders have never been proved to exist (other than major mental illness) and that anti-depressants have been shown to do nothing for people with mild to moderate depression.

The problem as I see it with classifying PMDD as a mental disorder, is that it isnt. It is due to a number of factors being misaligned in the body (nutritional deficiencies, too much stress, no exercise, bad circulation) and these factors together can contribute to worsening of PMDD, yet when these issues are sorted out, the PMDD is completely reduced to manageable levels.

A recent study showed that 20% of women who did the diagnostic survey, met the criteria for PMDD, whereas 4.1% of men met the criteria for PMDD too. The authors of the study then suggested:
Therefore, these data suggest that PMDD may not be a premenstrual disorder per se. PMDD may instead reflect general cyclical changes in mood, and in women sometimes these changes occur during or near menstruation.
A number of other studies have criticised the assessment that PMDD is severe mental disorder, when it is clearly not.

If you have severe PMS-like symptoms that could be thought to be PMDD, check out my articles about what needs to be done and work with your natural health care practitioner to find a better way to manage your symptoms. You are not alone and you do not have to suffer with this problem. Just check with your doctor to make sure there is no underlying disorder (a real one).

  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 1994:715–8.
  2. Bhatia SC and Bhatia S.  Diagnosis and Treatment of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Am Fam Physician. 2002 Oct 1;66(7):1239-1249.  Accessed 27 June 2010
  3. Callaghana GM, Chacona C, Colesa C, Bottsa J, Larawaya S. An Empirical Evaluation of the Diagnostic Criteria for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Problems with Sex Specificity and Validity. Women & Therapy, Volume 32, Issue 1 January 2009 , pages 1 - 21 
  4. Daw, J. Is PMDD Real? Monitor on Psychology, October 2002, Vol 33, No. 9 . Accessed 27 June 2010
  5. Kissling, E. Women, Men and PMDD. Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, 15 October 2009.  Accessed 27 June 2010
  6. Nash H, Chrisler JC. IS A LITTLE (PSYCHIATRIC) KNOWLEDGE A DANGEROUS THING? Psychology of Women Quarterly, Volume 21 Issue 2, Pages 315 - 322

Major and unrelenting stress can make PMS much worse

When you have a lot of stress in your life, when it's unrelenting and of a major kind and it is something that is rather beyond your control, this can be a major contributing factor in worse PMS symptoms so that they resemble PMDD, which is the more severe form of PMS.

For the last few months, I have been under a great deal of stress due to a very uncomfortable situation that I have been exposed to. I am trying really hard to extricate myself, but in the meantime, it means that the stress, frustration, anger and other negative emotions that I have been feeling, are contributing to my more exaggerated PMS symptoms this month, which I haven't felt in a very long time.

The one consolation I can give myself is that because I know any intense emotions I get are due to PMS, so this means I can use my little mind trick, where I tell myself, "It's only PMS. It's not real," and this brings my feelings back down to a more normal level pretty quickly.

But, as I am not yet right in the day or two before I menstruate, it still mean it could get much worse, but I hope not. I have done a lot of hard work to get my body to react more normally during PMS over the past few years and I never want to have those intense and crazy emotions that I used to get in the past, where I felt like my head felt like it had this intense pressure inside that I couldn't seem to release and was seemingly coming from nowhere. It was almost like I was going insane with all these intense, crazy emotions that had nothing to do with me, for 2-3 days almost every month and it was the most awful feeling as I could not control it.

Now, after several years of eating properly, exercising, doing meditation, taking certain supplements and massaging my body regularly, I don't feel that way any more. Yep, all without any medication, which was recommended to me, but I declined, preferring to do it the natural way, as I wholeheartedly believe the body can heal itself if you provide the right food, supplements and tools.

Just goes to show, how even if you implement everything properly, except in one area (not reducing stress) it can have a debilitating effect on your health and some of us are more susceptible than others.

PMS symptoms are worse this month

Day 26 of my cycle

Today is day 26 of my cycle, which means I should get my periods in about two days or slightly later than that. Hopefully it will not be too much longer, because I can really feel the PMS more strongly this month than in a long time.

I felt very hungry today, which is normal for me during the last week before I get my periods. I need to eat it seems every few hours and if I don't eat properly, my blood sugar levels go down too much and I feel dizzy and light headed, as well as anxious and jittery. Once I eat, all of that goes away and I feel calm again.

I also have an extremely sweet tooth during PMS, when I crave and eat, quite a bit of sweet food. About the only sweet thing I eat is chocolate. I buy organic or European, so it means it has a low glycemic index (GI) and helps with the blood sugar level problems.

I had some organic chicken soup with organic chicken wings earlier and afterward I felt really satisfied with the meal. I added a little balsamic vinegar to it, as I was craving something sour. It was absolutely delicious. But you know, it's been a few hours and I am hungry again. It's almost like I haven't eaten anything even though I have! That is part of how PMS affects me in terms of my blood sugar levels and hunger levels.

The level of PMS symptoms I have right is just like what I used to have a few years ago - really severe, really bad and more like PMDD - and it's all because of the major stress in my life, which has not yet been removed. It has been mediated a little, but not removed and that is the priority for me.

I think my last post may have been too much for some people, because I described some of my symptoms quite descriptively. I do so, because I know it helps other girls/women know that they are not alone in their suffering. It was about fluid retention in my breasts and nipples - damn annoying that it even happened this month (the bloating and pain, that is)!

24 June 2010

PMS bloating symptoms here in full force

It is now day 23 of my menstrual cycle.

The PMS fluid retention symptoms are here in full force.

I also feel rather emotional, more so than normal. Like if I see anything emotional on television (someone crying), it makes me feel too much empathy for them and I want to cry too.

Yesterday and the day before my breasts were so painful, bloated and spilling out of my bra, like I needed to go up a cup size. In addition to this, my nipples were completely painful and quite enlarged (as if I was breastfeeding and needed them to be that big)! Even when I had a shower yesterday and my arm accidentally moved past my nipples (say if I was reaching over to get the soap, or moving around washing myself), it hurt so bad the pain was almost unbearable. It must have been because they were so bloated and abnormally large and that is why it hurt so much.

I haven't had this kind of pain in my breasts/nipples for well over a year, maybe two years, ever since I started eating better, exercising, massaging and meditating. It must be because of the intense emotionally charged and stressful situation I am currently in (but trying to extricate myself from and it's taking longer than I anticipated), which is bringing on these PMS symptoms so strongly.

Weird thing is, today the bloating in my breasts and pain in the nipples is no longer there, so maybe the prawns and rice I had yesterday with the spices helped. Or, maybe it was the Scheussler tissue salt, General Tonic, which as all the 12 tissue salts, in homeopathic form that I had last night which did the trick to help tone down the bloating. It's the formula that is for the "temporary relief of overall fatigue and exhaustion", which work on the whole body, especially the nervous system, to help support it and that's obviously what I need right now. Will have some more today.

I highly recommend tissue salts for use - they generally don't interact with medications (but check with your doctor to make sure) and do help:
Search Amazon.com for tissue salts.

21 June 2010

PMS symptoms are fluctuating this month

I am at day 20 of my cycle, which means I have definitely been in PMS mode for about 6 days now.

I have discussed in previous posts that I can feel the PMS symptoms more keenly this month, with the fluid retention and fluctuating emotions starting right after ovulation.

At the moment, my stomach has this huge amount of fluid retention, which seems to come and go. Today it's very definitely here, my stomach has a lot of fluid retention and even when I hold my stomach in, it's still there. Lovely. At least I know it will be gone once my periods finish, but it's still annoying.

Additionally, I have felt the rise of emotion overwhelming me, having a far more intense reaction to stressful events than I normally would have, if I wasn't in PMS mode. It's almost like a physical sensation, the wave of emotion that threatens to overwhelm me and it rises so fast, that it is difficult to stem the tide.  But I try to do so, because it's not healthy to buy into it.

Whenever I feel that rise of emotion - anger, resentment, anxiety, fear - or tears, I keep telling myself, over and over again, "it's just PMS, it's not a real emotion", until the intense emotion goes away. I managed to stem the flow of angry tears even before they started just using this little strategy of mine!  So it's a big plus. Better than any medication and cheaper too, that is for sure!

While I have had the intense negative emotions, they haven't been going on that much, or that consistently, so that is a positive. On the plus side, I have been feeling more creative and more incisive and my brain feels like it's functioning better. It's always good to see the positive side of anything because it helps you cope better.

I have been exercising for about 35-45 minutes most days of the week in this last week. I am better from the flu and can manage exercising more normally now.

This past few months I have had to deal with an unrelentingly stressful situation that has been greatly upsetting, so the immense stress I have been under has made a huge impact on my PMS symptoms, making them much worse than normal, but still not as bad as they used to be, because I know how to manage them better now

Just a clarification

I was going through my blog the other day and decided to do a bit of a clean up.

I found a blog post which I thought was far too long and contained far too much information for just one blog post.

It was a post I made on 5 February 2008 about the causes of PMS and PMDD, with five different areas.

I decided to edit that post  into five separate blog posts, in order to separate the different topic areas contained within the post.  There was too much content for just one post and I separated it to make it easier to read.

The post was previously entitled: PMS and PMDD Causes and it was quite comprehensive in content.

It has now been divided into five posts, for the same day, just to make the content more readable and easier to manage as there were five different areas within the same post and lots of information in the one post.

I decided that because it was an important topic - the possible causes of PMS and PMDD - that each part should have it's own post.

You can view the five separate posts here:

And in case you hadn't noticed, I changed the format of my blog too. Hope you like the swirly pattern in the background and the new format. I wanted to make it more colourful.

16 June 2010

PMS has started early for this month, already

PMS has started already this month, early.

I think because I have been rather inactive these past three weeks and have had to deal with a very stressful situation (which I am trying to extricate myself  from), that's most likely causing PMS to start early.

I haven't been active or doing much exercise these past three weeks, because I have been really sick with the flu from just before the start of my previous months' periods and I am only now just starting to get better! It's been a very virulent flu virus that got me and I am still coughing and have sinusitis as well as feel very lethargic and tired.

At the moment, it's just my breasts that feel rather full and heavier than normal and my stomach is bloated out, it juts out when I sit down and that's not normal for me when I don't have PMS.

I don't mind having full, heavy and even painful breasts and the fluid retention that goes on in the rest of my body, but I do not want the emotional symptoms - the anger, irrational thinking, depression, anxiety and everything else that goes with it, to a varying degree, for those days before my periods start.

Last night I did about 15 minutes of exercise - not much, but I didn't have much energy to do more. Today, I did 30 minutes of exercise, so I hope that, combined with eating more fruits and vegetables and taking all my vitamins/minerals, can help to prevent the worst of the fluid retention and other PMS symptoms.  I probably also need to do some meditation too. Maybe I will do some tonight, before I go to sleep, which will be very soon.

13 June 2010

Results of my blood tests have just come through

I recently had a blood test to check up on my iron levels (and a few other things).

My iron and ferritin (iron store) levels are still very low and I need to continue supplementation, which I am doing. It also means I need to start eating things like liver a few times a week. I really don't like beef liver, so I'll try chicken liver, which is more mild in taste and while it has less iron/vitamin B12, it still has them in ample amounts and enough to help me replenish my iron/ferritin.

In addition to this, my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was quite high. It was in the normal range, but right at the top of the normal range and basically double what it was only three months ago! This is probably because my thyroid is getting hypothyroid due to the multiple nodule goitre I have on my thyroid. Apparently high stress (which I am under at present) can increase the amount of cortisol circulating in the body and this can cause the thyroid to function less effectively as well.

With the low iron/ferritin levels and high TSH (potentially hypothyroidism) results, it means I will get more tired, feel lethargic, feel cold easily and put on weight easily. The higher TSH results also mean more bleeding during menstruation.  Thyroid disorders often go hand-in-hand with PMS and PMDD!

Low iron/ferritin levels not only have the above symptoms, but they can make you feel depressed and anxious, as part of the symptoms. Once the iron/ferritin levels go back to normal, these symptoms also disappear! This means that PMS symptoms can become worse if iron levels are too low and become more like PMDD symptoms.

The blood test was taken when I was still really sick from the flu and I had my periods at the time, so that is probably why they the iron and ferritin levels were extra low.

I have just ovulated. I know because of the symptoms I get during ovulation is the same every month. This means PMS is coming!

05 June 2010

Moderate PMS symptoms this month

This month my periods started 4 weeks and 4 days since my last cycle.

I think they started a little later because I had a really bad flu infection and I don't think my body could cope with being so sick from the flu and having my periods at the same time too (I had a bad fever/chills/cough/lethargy etc, to a severe degree and was very sick - I am still recovering).  So this flu was almost like a silver lining in way - it prevented my body from getting the worst of the PMS symptoms.

My periods were due to start somewhere between Friday and Sunday, but I got sick with the flu on Saturday morning and was in bed for the whole of Saturday to Thursday. My periods started on Wednesday morning.What a nice, considerate body I have! This was one time I didn't mind a longer cycle, because I didn't get the usual PMS symptoms during the time I had the flu, as I had no energy to do much but sleep!

Prior to the flu starting, I noticed that I had a little of the anger and irritation and my breasts were more full and heavier than normal, but they were not hurting much. I think they did hurt a little bit for part of one day and maybe a little of another day, but that was it!  I did get the fluid retention in my stomach, legs and thighs, but I think that was about it for my PMS symptoms this month.

Today is day five of my menstruation and because of the flu (luckily), I didn't get any period pain (except for a minor twinge one day).

But, I am feeling the sugar imbalances due to not eating much of anything the past week. Because of this flu, I have been basically drinking a lot of herbal tea (peppermint and rosehip), soup and pasta, as well as having a lot of honey - in other words, not eating much at all for about a week. This evening, I felt the sugar imbalance symptoms - I get this weird taste in my mouth, like I haven't eaten enough food, my mouth gets this dry feeling and I just need to get high sugar stuff into me to feel better. I also get agitated - the low sugar does that - and I don't feel right until I eat and eat. Ironically, I am not hungry at all, but my body seems to be craving high sugar foods to feel better.

I really have to work on this sugar imbalance issue I have, as I do not want to put pressure on my pancreas any more - it needs a rest to be able to function properly, as do my cells and the insulin too.

25 May 2010

Fluid retention all over right now

Well I have some fluid retention most noticeably in my breasts and stomach. I can tell because my stomach is a bit more bloated and less flat (which is how it normally is) and my bra feels like it's too small for my breasts, whereas a few days ago, it was okay.

I haven't got much pain in my breasts from the fluid retention, which is good. Today I noticed that my bra feels quite small, like I need to get a bigger bra to accommodate my breasts, whereas yesterday, it didn't feel that way. My breasts also feel really heavy, much heavier than they did yesterday - as if the fluid has added a few grams of weight to them.

I have been doing a little exercise most day, but not very much at all.

I have been taking a liquid iron supplement (to build up my iron stores), some psyillium fibre and acidophilus probiotic powder. I think the iron is helping quite a lot. I don't feel as tired as I normally feel and it may be helping in other ways too - by topping up the iron in my body, I get more oxygen flowing around in my blood and this gets to my cells and helps to give me more energy. I no long feel like totally lethargic and sleepy every day, I have a bit more energy. That is something positive. I guess it means I need to finish this bottle of iron and maybe buy another one to take after my next cycle has ended.  I really don't eat much meat and don't eat enough other foods rich in iron and then I bleed heavily during my monthly flow, so it means my iron stores get a bit low.  I have to review the foods I eat and start eating an egg and some spinach every day, both of which have high levels of iron.

I have also been eating organic chocolate every day - some days more than others. If I get upset, I tend to eat more chocolate.

23 May 2010

Officially in PMS mode for the month

I just checked my calendar and it has been three weeks and two days (23 days) since my last period started, which means I am well and truly in PMS mode.

There should be less than a week before my next menstrual cycle starts, if it's going to be on time, otherwise, it may be a bit longer than that. Still, I am very much in PMS at the moment.

When I had my jeans on today, I noticed some bloating in my stomach - it was not as flat as it normally was (and even not as flat as it was just yesterday). At first I thought maybe I had eaten too much of something (probably chocolate), but then I realised that my stomach couldn't have gotten  bloated that much in one day, all of a sudden from eating something and besides which, I didn't eat a lot of anything yesterday. That's when I thought that it must be because I am in PMS mode that my fluid levels are a bit wonky and making me retain more fluid in certain areas than others (my thighs and legs feel a little bloated too). So when I looked at my calendar to find out when I had my last periods and that's when I realised where I was in my cycle. It all made sense - PMS!

I have been keeping track of my of my menstrual cycle for a few years now, to try to make sense of the actual length of my cycle. It helps, because it means I can work out when my periods are about to start (give or take a few days), especially lately when my cycle has been a lot more regular than normal. And that is nice.

I have been taking a liquid iron supplement again, because of my heavy menstrual flow and lack of meat in my diet means I tend to get a bit low in iron and iron stores and tend towards iron-deficient anaemia. I can feel that this second bottle (I took some last month too) is making a difference as I have been feeling less tired.  I am supposed to get a blood test done in the next few days to determine levels of iron and a number of other things, so that should tell me if this iron supplement has been working.

11 May 2010

More exercise and massage every day

I have been massaging my legs quite diligently the last two days (since my periods ended), for about five minutes each leg, about twice a day. The massage I have been giving my legs has been over my clothes and it's more of a rub-down, vibrational one, where I do a motion with the sides of my palms vertically down on my legs, all over. This has the effect of stimulating the circulatory and lymphatic systems to function better.

I have also been doing quite a lot of leg exercises and leg stretches, but I have also been doing other exercises and stretches for other parts of the body too, because any exercise program should include your whole body (or at least certain parts on certain days, but all the body to be exercised throughout the week).

I have been trying to make sure I massage my legs as they seem to feel the worst effects of the fluid retention when I get my periods and also prior during PMS, so I'll have to monitor my progress when I get into PMS mode and when menstruation starts to see if this has any effect.

09 May 2010

Cous Cous and Quinoa Prawn Delight

This recipe is one that I have made before and is really delicious! You can just use quinoa only to make it totally gluten-free.

Cous Cous and Quinoa Prawn Delight

Makes: 4 portions
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins 

200g wholewheat cous cous
100g wholegrain quinoa
300g prawns (you can use more if you like), peeled, leave tail on
3 carrots, cut into 2-3cm thin sticks
1 eggplant, cut into small cubes
1 red (Spanish) onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped finely
12-16 snow peas, cut julienne
4 tsp sesame seeds
4 tsp pine nuts
1 vegetable stock cube (use an organic one)
Olive oil
Fresh coriander leaves

  1. Finely chop the garlic and onions and to a pan with some olive oil.
  2. Saute the garlic and onion at medium heat until they are transluscent.
  3. In a pan, add 3 cups of water to the quinoa with a pinch of salt and a small amount of olive oil and boil until the quinoa opens a little (about 5-7 minutes) with the lid on, checking on the quinoa to see when it is finished.
  4. Meanwhile, add 200g cous cous with about 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil, the stock cube and 300ml of boiling water and let simmer uncovered for about 1 minute, after which you need to turn off the heat and place a lid on the pan. After about 4-5 minutes of this, fluff the cous cous with a fork and set aside.
  5. Add the carrots to the pan with the garlic and onion and saute for a few minutes.
  6. Add the eggplant to the pan and sauted a little more. Add a little olive oil and/or water if there is not enough liquid to get the eggplant cooked properly.
  7. Drain the quinoa and add it to the pan with the cous cous.
  8. In a large serving bowl, add the quinoa/cous cous, then slowly add the vegetables and then the prawns and mix through thoroughly.
  9. Serve immediately, topped with the snow peas, some chopped coriander, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and pine seeds.
Use organic ingredients as this will be much more tastier and healthier. This is a very filling, but nutritious recipe healthy for all the family and very quick to prepare. This recipe is high in fibre, low in sodium and high in iron.

Recipe was taken from: Cous Cous Quinoa Prawn Delight - Vital Health Zone

PMS and Menustration Update

I haven't updated this blog in a while and I will try to be more diligent about it from now on, at least to post something every month, around the time of PMS and just into my menstrual cycle, to try to post how it's going with me.

The intervening months since I last posted, my periods have been quite regular, more than ever, with my periods coming usually every 28-30 days almost every cycle, other than one or two which were very irregular and my periods not starting for almost 38 days after my last one, but they were the exception rather than the rule.

In addition to this, I have been experiencing milder period pain most months. Sometimes though, I still get really painful periods for say two cycles and then mild pain for several cycles and then again the severe pain for two cycles. It's been this way for as long as I can remember, so that is normal for me.

The PMS/PMDD symptoms have been fluctuating up and down, mainly depending on a number of factors:
  • what I have been eating in the preceding month
  • how much I have been exercising in the preceding month
  • if there have been any emotional conflicts in the preceding month
I have found that if there have been a lot of emotional conflict (especially if I am keeping in or repressing emotions) and I haven't been exercising enough in the preceding month, those two factors are enough to cause severe PMS/PMDD and cause me to have very painful periods too. So it's like a double whammy - not just the emotional symptoms, but also the physical ones too both prior to menstruation and during menstruation.

I think the emotional aspect is really an important one as it has quite a major bearing on how my body deals with the hormones that are fluctuating during PMS time. If there are many negative emotions that have not been released, this can be enough to cause PMS/PMDD symptoms to be quite severe and the more negative emotions there are, the worse the PMS becomes, more like PMDD.

Eating properly and exercising adequately are normal for me to do, as I eat really well, I dont eat much that is not good for me and I do some exercise just about every day. So for me, it's the emotional aspect that is the issue with my PMS symptoms.

PMS Not So Bad This Month

This past month, I have not had such bad PMS nor did I have really bad period pain either and my periods came 28 days after the previous month's menstruation. This menstrual cycle was one of my more nicer ones, so that was a great relief.

I think it was because I didn't eat much of anything that was bad for me - I think I had only one packet of chips (and they were made with all organic ingredients) and I generally ate mostly healthy things every day, lots of vegetables and fruit (all organic of course), some protein, some nuts and seeds most day (pecans, walnuts, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, almonds) and every meal I had for lunch and dinner was home made from scratch by me. The only junk food I may have had was chocolate, always dark and mostly always organic (or at least European). But as we all know, chocolate is actually good for you, especially dark chocolate and definitely organic, so it's not a bad thing to eat chocolate.

I also did some exercise every day, just a little and that helped to ensure my circulation was working properly.

In addition to that, I did some affirmations most nights (and some days) as well as proper breathing and some meditation, plus I did a little bit of massage on my legs - both upper and lower parts - on a number of days, so that also helped with circulation.

The only part of my periods that was a little annoying was that my stomach got bloated and my ankles hurt (from the fluid retention) for a few days. The bloating though, stayed throughout my whole period, but as soon as it was over, my stomach went back to being flat again. The other thing that is really annoying about my periods is that I get excessively tired (hypersomnia) for 2-3 days just before my periods, during PMS and all through my periods. I think it is because of the iron loss in the blood so I am replacing it with an iron supplement this month to prevent this next month, as I know that I am slightly anaemic.

The PMS I had was less severe and didn't affect my ability to function, so it was quite bearable. I only felt it at certain times on a few days, but it was not anything severe so it was nice. I can only wish my cycle was this good every month with little PMS and basically no menstrual pain.