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.