Period pain and PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) are common problems women often discuss, either amongst themselves, or on social media.
Everyone knows someone who experiences period pain or PMS – perhaps even both!
There's no shortage of teasing and joking around when it comes to women's hormones, especially when she's experiencing PMS.
But just because something is common, it doesn't mean it's normal or healthy.
Would it surprise you to know that period pain and PMS are entirely preventable issues, which can be successfully treated?
There's no need to suffer when treatment is available.
Period Pain and PMS
Many women and teenage girls find period pain and PMS to be a burden that can greatly affect their quality of life.
It can impact on their ability to perform regular daily activities, their workplace performance and it can often make it difficult for them to cope with the demands of everyday life.
If you, your daughter, or if someone you know is affected by period pain or PMS, you can get help.
Women's health specialist, Doctor Andrew Orr, says it's very important to understand these five things:
#1: Period pain is not normal. Women should not get any pain with their period. Slight dull pressure can be normal, but period pain that requires pain medications, heat packs, or days off work is not normal. Any clotting, pain, dark blood, sharp pains, dull pain and debilitating pain is not normal, and needs investigating by a women's health or reproductive specialist.
#2: Ovulation pain is also not normal. Find out more about ovulation pain.
#3: Treating young girls can prevent a whole host of problems. If young girls were appropriately treated when they got their first period, we would see fewer cases of infertility and long term gynaecological issues.
#4: Always seek a referral. Always. You should seek a referral to a gynaecologist or women’s health specialist for help with any gynaecological issues. Most GPs do not have the experience or training you need and deserve. It's simply not their area of expertise and they do not have specialist reproductive or fertility training or knowledge.
#5: Don’t mess around thinking the pill will fix it. It truly won’t. It only serves to mask the underlying issues which may worsen without you realising it. Read more in our article about 6 big problems with the pill. You can discover some better alternatives here.
Unfortunately period problems are often viewed as an unpleasant, but unavoidable, consequence of being a woman.
But it doesn't have to be this way!
Women do not have to live with the monthly annoyance and inconvenience of period pain or PMS.
What Is PMS?
PMS is the name given to a collection of physical and emotional symptoms related to a woman's menstrual cycle. The symptoms of PMS occur in the days or weeks before a period and usually resolve once the period has started.
Some women experience mild symptoms for just a day or two before their periods, whereas others can feel physically uncomfortable and emotionally strung out for up to two weeks every month.
The most common symptoms of PMS include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Digestive upsets, i.e. constipation, diarrhea
- Breast tenderness and swelling
- Back pain
- Fluid retention
- Food cravings — especially for processed carbohydrates and sweet foods (e.g. chocolate or pasta)
- Mood swings
- Unexplained anger
- Teariness and weepiness
- Poor concentration
- Low libido (which also may occur on the pill)
What Causes PMS?
While the exact cause of PMS is unknown medically, Chinese medicine believes it's caused by stagnation of the liver Qi.
In Chinese medicine, the liver governs the menstrual cycle, and emotional and dietary factors can affect the harmony of the liver. Emotions such as anger, frustration, poor diet and alcohol all affect the liver, causing stagnation that leads to PMS.
Medically, imbalances of female reproductive hormones play a role. Nutritional deficiencies in vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium and essential fatty acids are also known to increase the severity of PMS symptoms.
What Can I Take to Help Reduce PMS Symptoms?
Below are some natural solutions available to restore hormonal balance and correct nutritional deficiencies, reducing the symptoms of PMS:
- Chinese herbs — these have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese herbal medicine, to help to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce period pain. Individually tailored herbs are given in order to achieve the best outcome.
- Vitamin B — The B group of vitamins are important nutrients that assist in the treatment of PMS by reducing anxiety, moodiness, irritability, sugar cravings, breast tenderness and abdominal bloating.
- Magnesium — This vital mineral is required for stress management, energy production and maintenance of healthy moods. Magnesium deficiency is associated with PMS symptoms, particularly irritability, depression, confusion, headaches and muscle aches.
- Calcium — Research shows that women with low calcium levels have higher rates of PMS. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. If levels are inadequate, this may cause PMS symptoms.
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids — Omega-3 essential fatty acids are the healthy fats that come from food sources such as fish oil. These healthy fats can help manage pain, inflammation and PMS mood symptoms. Shen Therapies carries the highest quality omega 3 oil on the market.
- Electrolytes — water alone will not keep you hydrated. Dehydration is a common cause of pain, muscles cramps and spasms. Healthy fats can help manage pain and spasms caused by menstrual issues, and they can also alleviate fluid retention. Endura is a great electrolyte supplement, and it's perfectly safe when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Helping Yourself To Beat PMS – For Good
Stress, diet (high in processed sugar and grains), alcohol and lack of exercise can also contribute to the emotional and physical symptoms of PMS. By helping yourself to rebalance your hormones (addressing nutritional deficiencies and factors such as stress and diet), as well as finding an experienced fertility practitioner to help treat you, period pain and PMS can become a thing of the past.
If you, your daughter or someone you know suffers from PMS or menstrual issues, get onto it as soon as possible. Don’t let the suffering of PMS or period pain continue on, as they can develop into serious issues that could have been easily addressed earlier.
Recommended Reading: What Should A Healthy Menstural Cycle Be Like?
Doctor Andrew Orr has Masters degrees in Women’s Health and Reproductive Medicine. He also has a Bachelor of Health Science, and is a qualified nutritionist and Doctor of Chinese medicine. You can see Doctor Orr in his clinic in Brisbane, or via online consultations. He uses a combination of diet, Chinese herbs, acupuncture, nutritional supplements, western medicine, western medicine investigations, as well as lifestyle advice to help alleviate menstrual issues such as PMS. In many cases, most menstrual issues can be addressed in 1-3 cycles. Some severe menstrual issues can take longer.
Articles posted on BellyBelly which are not written by Doctor Andrew Orr are the opinions of BellyBelly and not necessarily the opinion of Doctor Andrew Orr.