What is PMS? Understanding Premenstrual Syndrome.

What is PMS? Understanding Premenstrual Syndrome.

In the week leading up to your period, you might notice that you start to feel a little differently — this can include mood swings, tiredness and tummy pain just to name a few. 

This is all down to something called PMS, which is short for premenstrual syndrome. Below, we explore exactly what PMS is, signs and symptoms and some useful tips to help you get through it!

So, exactly what is PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome is a collection of symptoms that typically occur in the week leading up to a person menstruating. 

We're all different and so are our bodies, so the symptoms of PMS can vary from person to person greatly, as does the level of discomfort. There is a wide range of symptoms that can come around every month due to PMS and these symptoms can also vary in severity for different people.

For most people, the symptoms of PMS are reported to start in the days leading up to their period. Others may have no PMS at all (we're jealous), and there’s a wide range of people that fit somewhere in between. 

What are the 10 most common symptoms of PMS?

  • To start with, we've put together some of the physical symptoms that many people experience due to PMS:Energy levels can be affected at this time. Lots of people report having very little energy and feel much more tired. Changes in the hormones estrogen and progesterone levels mid-cycle are thought to contribute to this. 
  • Headaches are another common symptom of PMS. For some people, the headache they describe at this time can be closely compared to a migraine as they can be so severe
  • Swollen breasts are reported by many women in the week leading up to their period. As a person gets nearer to menstruation starting, their breasts may start to feel more tender and sensitive and some people will actually have different bra sizes for different times in their menstrual cycle to support this change
  • Having problems on the toilet? Bowel changes are common during PMS and you might experience constipation or diarrhoea. This could be to do with the changes to a person's diet around this time, hormonal changes or a combination of both. 
  • During PMS, energy levels can also be affected. Lots of people report having very little energy and feeling much more tired. The decline in estrogen and adjustment in progesterone mid-cycle could be to blame for this.
So what emotional difficulties are experienced with PMS? 
  • Irritability and low mood at this time can be very common. Many people report having no patience, feeling very irritated or being snappy. The mood may go from really low to highly anxious, tearful, or a whole spectrum of emotions. Many people experience at least one or more emotional difficulties regularly at times of PMS.
  • Changes to appetite are another commonly reported symptom of PMS. Cravings for different foods such as savoury or sweet are high and the fluctuation in the hormones in our body at this time could be responsible for these PMS symptoms. Insulin levels are also known to increase during PMS which affects our blood sugar levels.
  • Skin and hair changes are another issue that seems to be connected to the symptoms of PMS. Outbreaks of spots at this time can then lead us straight back to the cupboard for more comfort foods which in turn may cause more skin issues. The dull hair that a lot of us notice around this time is also not just a coincidence, and is a result of the fluctuations in hormones at this time.
  • Sex drive increase or decline due to hormonal changes is another common symptom of PMS. It is also possible that the sex drive is affected by a combination of the many other symptoms resulting in a lack of desire — the list of PMS symptoms doesn't really combine well for a romantic evening!

What can we do to help reduce the symptoms

Bowl of healthy fruits

Change your diet

Small changes to your diet are known to help reduce or control PMS symptoms. Aim to eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of fast or processed foods. Any reduction in unhealthy foods and increase in foods that provide more nutrients and are easier for your body to digest is only going to help. Foods that are known to help in reducing your PMS symptoms include fibre-packed vegetables like leafy greens, vitamin-rich fruits like bananas and whole grains such as brown rice. 

Staying hydrated is also another must, especially if headaches are a symptom that you suffer with. Caffeine and alcohol intake may also be something worth reducing, especially if you're prone to feeling a little more irritated during the week leading up to your period. 

Mixture of different vitamin pills

Take your vitamins

If you suffer from PMS symptoms, it's best to try to keep yourself at optimum levels of vitamins. Many of us go about our daily life lacking in basic vitamins, which can really impact the quality of our every day living, without us even realising!

Vitamins B's, D, calcium and magnesium are amongst many that could help with hormonal balance. Our stockists Planet Organic specialise in vitamins as well as wholesome foods, as do our stockists Holland and Barrett. These stores will be able to provide you with the vitamins you need to help balance any deficiencies you have.

Holland and Barrett also offer a one to one consultation service which would be a great way to get a tailored health plan together which can help provide you with some further armour in your PMS reducing battle.

Women in a group exercise class

Do some exercise 

Exercise is a great way to get your body moving and reduce symptoms like cramps whilst also boosting the chemicals in your brain to make you feel a little better during PMS! Research has shown that aerobic exercise can help to reduce symptoms like fatigue, headaches and cramps.

What is aerobic exercise? It sounds fancy, but anything that boosts your heart rate is aerobic exercise! Fast walking, running, swimming, or biking are all great choices to reduce symptoms of PMS and should have you feeling better in no time.

Woman in white tank top in a meditation pose with candles

Be kind to yourself

Self care is really important in looking after your body and mind when you're feeling the symptoms of PMS. Why not treat yourself to something new — candles, creams, or even a new pair of FLUX Undies period pants. Whatever it is, just make sure you take good care of yourself until the PMS subsides. 

Our period pants could be a great solution

We know exactly what monthly mood swings, cramps and bloating feels like when PMS comes around. That's why we created super soft leak-proof period underwear to keep you comfortable on your period. 

With built-in absorbent technology, you're guaranteed to feel fresh and dry on your period every month, and what better time to try them than for symptoms of PMS. Why not start with our best-selling High Waist period pants that hug your tummy whilst keeping you leak-free and protected during your time of the month.  

Once you're finished using them this period, simply put them in the wash and leave them to dry, ready to use again next month!