Period Mood Swings and You

Angry woman surrounding by chalk designs

What causes period mood swings, and what can you do about them?
Image: Shutterstock

We all get a little moody sometimes, but period mood swings are definitely one of the major reasons why PMS gets such a bad rap. Crying spells, angry outbursts, anxiety attacks—how do you make them stop? And how do you know if it’s PMS…or something else?

“You’ll know these emotional ups and downs are due to PMS if they start consistently a week to two weeks before your period and stop a day or two after menstruation starts,” says gynecologist Carol Livoti, MD. These mood swings generally happen during the last (luteal) phase of the menstrual cycle, usually days 14-28. And they’ll probably stop as soon as menstruation starts. (If they don’t, you may be suffering from depression or a different problem that you should talk to your doctor about right away!)

Scientists suspect period mood swings happen because of the shift in hormones, in particular the rise and fall of estrogen levels. Add a dash of life stress to that—divorce, job loss, or a tough presentation at school—and the mood swings can be even worse.

So what can you do to minimize the pain and suffering caused by period mood swings? Try a few of these options:

 

Exercise. No surprise here! Physical activity is great for your body, and it’s been shown to help with bad moods, too, thanks to the feel-good chemicals released from your brain when you get moving.

Eat small, frequent meals. Eating six small meals a day instead of the usual, bigger three can keep your blood sugar level and help with hormonal mood shifts. Work on keeping your carbohydrate intake down, too.

Try calcium supplements. One study showed that supplementing your diet with 500 milligrams of calcium twice a day can lead to significantly less depression and fatigue during your menstrual cycle. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying new supplements!

Manage the stress. While stress doesn’t cause mood swings, it can certainly contribute to them! Take time out to try some relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. You may also benefit from doing some group therapy—or just having a quiet chat with a supportive friend.

Remember the good things! Shifting hormones can actually make some things easier for you. One study suggested that when you have less progesterone in your system (generally around day five or six of your cycle), you’re able to be more thoughtful and empathetic. And when estrogen spikes between days five and thirteen, you’re likely to feel more confident, feminine, and attractive. Embrace it!

 

Period mood swings don’t have to be debilitating PMS side effects. Be kind to yourself, make a few simple lifestyle changes, and you’ll feel better in no time!

Fight PMS with These 3 Smoothies!

Smoothies are a great way to get the nutrition you need quickly and easily. But sometimes they can taste a bit…blah.

Not these smoothies!

Specially concocted to help soothe common PMS symptoms, these three PMS smoothie recipes will get you feeling better in no time. Check them out and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

Smoothie for headaches

Who has a Headache?...Not Me! (vitamin and mineral blend)

The vitamin riboflavin is great for treating headaches, and it just so happens spinach provides 32% of your recommended daily dose! Almond milk, mangoes, and kale also contain riboflavin.

 

1 cup of vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup of mango juice

Handful of organic baby kale

Handful of organic spinach

 

 

Superwoman Immunity (lots of B vitamin blend)Superwoman smoothie

A recent study showed that diets rich in vitamin B can prevent or alleviate PMS symptoms. And we’re talking diets here, not supplements. So try this smoothie to get your vitamin B game on!

 

1/2 cup of Kefir, plain

1/2 cup of water

1 whole orange; cut in pieces

1 apple, cut in pieces

1 banana

 

 

PMS smoothiePMS Be Gone! (all foods high in natural l-tryptophan)

Keep those chocolate cravings in check with this yummy—and healthy—alternative! This smoothie also contains sources of natural l-tyrptophan, a mood enhancer.

 

1 serving of chocolate protein (use real chocolate)

1.5 cups of soy milk

2-3 dates (cut in pieces first)

handful of slivered almonds

5 Tips for Dealing with Period Headaches

woman with headache holding head

Period headaches are common and can be extremely painful. Here are some tips to help you deal!
Image: Shutterstock

Getting a headache is bad enough, but if you get one in the time leading up to your period—or during menstruation—you know it can be especially killer. The truth is, headaches can be a very common side effect of all the hormonal shifts going on in your body—60-70% of women who have migraines report that their headaches have some relationship with their period. What’s a girl to do?

Actually, there are plenty of ways to fight back against that period headache! Here are five to get you started:

  1. Figure out why. Even something as simple as keeping a journal of when your headaches occur and how they affect you can help you find patterns and figure out what sorts of behavior are triggering the period headaches. Other side effects like acne, fatigue, soreness, decreased urination, and lack of coordination set period headaches apart from the usual kind, so keep an eye on those symptoms.
  1. Lower your stress level. Obviously being stressed out is a bad thing, but at certain times of the month, stress can actually increase your chances of getting a period headache. Be sure to have a few go-to tricks in your bag for dealing with stress, such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and aerobic exercise.
  1. Get enough sleep. Drastic chances in your sleep patterns—or just not getting enough sleep, full stop—can lead to period headaches. Do yourself a favor and get those zzz’s to help your body handle hormone fluctuations.
  1. Eat regular meals. Do you usually skip breakfast? Sometimes miss out on lunch? Load up on treats like red wine, coffee, and chocolate? All of these things can cause period headaches, so do your best to keep your food intake regular and healthy, especially during menstruation.
  1. Talk to your doctor. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate the type of birth control you take or to consider an herbal supplement. If you’ve made general lifestyle changes and still have trouble with period headaches, you should definitely talk to a professional!

Don’t let period headaches interrupt your life! You can do small, simple things to feel better and prevent those symptoms from bringing you down next time!

 

How Menstruation Keeps Girls Out of School

Three young Nepalese girls

For many women and girls in Nepal, menstruation can make education--and personal safety--difficult.
Image: Det-anan / Shutterstock.com

For many of us, getting our periods may be a little annoying, but it’s also considered a normal part of life. For millions around the world, though, getting a period every month can have serious consequences for school, jobs, and even health and personal safety.

In Nepal, for example, about 30% of girls miss school every month due to their periods, according to Her Turn. And UNICEF reports that 95% of girls surveyed in mid- and far western Nepal have to deal with some sort of restriction when they’re menstruating, due in large part to a tradition called chaupadi, which, depending on the culture, can mean women aren’t allowed to touch men, read books, or even sleep or eat in the same place as the rest of the family. In fact, many women are forced to stay in a shed during their periods, which means no heating during the winter, potential animal attacks, and even asphyxiation and burns due to trying to build fires in small spaces. Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled chaupadi illegal in 2005, but it’s still practiced in many places.

Even in places where chaupadi isn’t a tradition, girls still face challenges with menstruation because the facilities in their schools aren’t private or sanitary. Girls use newspaper, leaves, or even sand and ash instead of sanitary pads or tampons, simply because they don’t have access to or education about anything better!

And sure, skipping school might sound great, but it can have negative results in the future. The Girl Effect found that an additional year of primary school education can boost girls’ income from 10-20%. And an additional year of secondary school can raise it another 15-25%!

Taking all of this into account, several organizations got together last November to lead a discussion on menstruation and its effects on menstruation. Using the hashtag #PointPeriod, Her Turn and the Day of the Girl Summit asked and answered questions about the issue, hoping to raise awareness. It’s definitely worth checking out!

The Best GirlU Blogs of 2014

Girl Uninterrupted logo

Here's a look back at our best blog posts of 2014!

On the last day of 2014, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our most popular blog posts here at GirlU. If you’re looking for smart ways to deal with PMS symptoms, we’ve got you covered!

#5: 5 Tips for Dealing with Menstrual Cramps—Naturally!  Cramps are a pain—and then some! We reviewed some ways to deal with them that don’t necessarily involve popping pills. Simple lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress and making healthier food choices, can really make a difference!

#4: What to Do About Sore Breasts During Your Period  As with cramps, we pointed out quite a few natural solutions for dealing with sore breasts. The trick is to take a look at what habits are likely causing them and form a plan of action. In addition to the usual culprits, such as diet and exercise, breast soreness can be conquered with relaxation techniques and a properly fitted, supportive bra.

#3: Your PMS Survival Kit  We had so much fun throwing our Pampering Gift Basket Giveaway! In addition, we took a look at what might go into a PMS survival kit to keep you feeling good when your period’s got you down. Thanks to everyone who chimed in with their thoughts!

#2: Period Mythbusters  There are a lot of myths about periods and PMS out there, whether it’s rumors from your friends or things you read online. We focused on some of the biggest misconceptions about periods, including cycle length, whether or not to swim, and getting pregnant.

And the #1 most popular GirlU blog post for 2014:  What to Wear on Your Period Feeling crummy during that time of month shouldn’t mean you have to feel less than stylish! We put together some great options for work-appropriate wear that’s high on comfort as well as fashion.

We’ve enjoyed sharing our blog with you this year! Stay tuned in 2015 for more awesome tips and tricks for living uninterrupted!

12 Days of Period Health

Christmas fruit, nuts, and cookies covered in snow

In honor of the 12 days of Christmas: 12 tips for period health!
Image: Shutterstock

Did you know the 12 days of Christmas actually start on Christmas? That means after the usual festivities, you’ve got another set of days to celebrate! In the spirit of the traditional song, here are 12 tips for optimal period health as we see the year out.

On the first day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of movement. Sitting for long periods of time can be bad for your back, not to mention your overall health. And if you’re already feeling down that time of month, why make things harder on yourself? Take a break and move!

On the second day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of hydration. It’s no joke trying to get in the recommended 8 cups a day, but optimal water intake is essential for your health, not to mention curbing the worst PMS and period symptoms.

On the third day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of looking fabulous while exercising. You know exercise is important for alleviating cramps and other symptoms, but why not look fantastic while you’re at it?

On the fourth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of cutting back on caffeine and sweets. We’re not saying you have to give them up entirely—especially around the holidays!—but you’ll definitely have fewer PMS symptoms if you make a special effort to keep to the carrots rather than the cake during that time of the month.

On the fifth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of plenty of sleep. Being on your period can make you extra sleepy, so make sure you go to bed and get up at the same time every day to regulate your circadian rhythm.

On the sixth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of motivation. This one can be especially tough during winter, so make sure you reach out and get the support you need to keep up those healthy habits and keep away the PMS symptoms!

On the seventh day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a healthy breakfast. Don’t skip it! Starting the day with a healthy meal will keep your metabolism in gear and give you energy for the rest of the day—especially important during that time of the month.

On the eighth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of Love Uninterrupted. Check in with yourself and your partner about expectations hopes for your relationship so you’re starting off the year in a great place to weather the inevitable ups and downs. Don’t have a partner? Make sure your friends, family, and other loved ones know how you feel!

On the ninth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a walk outside. Get in a solid dose of daily sunlight and exercise, and watch your mood soar!

On the tenth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a soothing yoga session. Relax and alleviate period cramps and other symptoms at the same time with a gentle yoga routine.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a supportive bra. Nothing beats sore breasts like a bra that’s well-fitted and meant to last!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a month’s supply of GirlU! The compact is super chic, but the best part is beating the PMS symptoms…for good!

Period Irregularities: What to Do About Them

OBGYN explaining period cycle

There are many reasons for period irregularities. If you're worried, you should definitely talk to your doctor!
Image: Shutterstock

While it would be great if your period worked like regular clockwork, occasional period irregularities are actually pretty normal. "The average cycle is 28 days—that's 28 days between the first day of one period and the first day of your next period—but anywhere in between 24 and 31 days is considered normal," says Veronica Lerner, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center.

If you’re noticing irregularities with your period, you might want to take a look at the potential factors below. Any of these could affect menstruation to varying degrees.

  • Excessive exercise. If you exercise a lot, you may notice that your periods come less frequently and are less heavy. This happens in part because of the combination of rigorous activity, low body fat, and stress on your body. While exercise is great for you in general, try not to overdo it! If your period is delayed more than three months, you should check in with your doctor.
  • Being overweight. Excess fat cells can caused elevated levels of estrogen, which can affect how and when—and if—your ovaries release an egg. Of course, that affects your period, too. Over time, too much weight can increase your risk of endometrial cancer. If you’re having weight problems, try talking to your doctor or a nutritionist.
  • Being underweight. Not weighing enough can cause period irregularities, too! This time the issue is that you’re not producing enough estrogen, as opposed to producing too much. If you’re just adjusting to some healthy weight loss, things should balance out in a few months. If irregularities last longer than that, though, it’s time for some professional help.
  • Any medication that can affect hormones, such as thyroid medication, steroids, or antipsychotics, can influence your period. Be sure to get the details on any potential side effects when taking prescriptions so you know what to expect.
  • Pesticides can act like hormones and also cause period irregularities. In fact, one study found that women exposed to pesticides were 60-100% more likely to have long cycles, missed periods, and spotting. One solution may be to go organic to limit your exposure to chemicals in your food.

There are a variety of reasons for period irregularities. In general, being off a month or two isn’t such a big deal. But if you’re really concerned, or think any of the above might be an issue for you, you should definitely consult your doctor.

The GirlU Formula

Red clover plant

Red clover is one of the active herbal ingredients in GirlU that helps get you feeling better fast!
Image: Shutterstock

Since GirlU is an all-natural supplement, its active ingredients are all herbs. Specially selected to fight the toughest PMS symptoms, the herbs in GirlU do a variety of awesome things to get you feeling better and back to your day fast. These herbs have a long history of alleviating symptoms, but this is the first time they’ve been put together into one simple, easy-to-swallow pill that acts in as little as 15 minutes. Best of all, you can personalize your dose so you’re getting just as much as you need based on your body and its natural cycles.

Let’s take a look at the herbs in GirlU and how they work for you to curb cravings, minimize bloating, relieve irritability, and improve focus.

  • Griffonia Seed, which comes from the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia, contributes the chemical 5-HTP, known to help raise serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin helps regulate mood and behavior, and 5-HTP has been shown to have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, and appetite. Because this form of 5-HTP is coming from a plant base, there’s less chance of contamination.
  • Green tea is more than just a soothing hot drink. For years, its health benefits have been studied and appreciated, particularly when it comes to mental alertness. Green tea has 2%-4% caffeine, which helps with brain function. Researchers think the power of green tea lies in its polyphenols—chemicals with potent antioxidant properties. It’s also been used historically to treat stomach upsets, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches.
  • Chaste tree berry helps with headaches, irritability, and especially breast tenderness. The herb acts on the pituitary gland to increase progesterone production, which helps regulate your menstrual cycle.
  • Red clover contains a variety of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. It also has isoflavones, which are similar to the estrogen your body normally produces. When your estrogen levels aren’t balanced, you can experience more PMS symptoms, so red clover helps your body function as if it has the proper amount of estrogen.
  • Saw palmetto has a variety of active ingredients including fatty acids, plant sterols, and flavonoids. It contains sugars that can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system, and it also functions as a mild diuretic.

When you take GirlU, you’re getting all these herbs to act together to provide you with fast, natural relief. Ready to give it a try? Check out GirlU today!

PMS Relief: Natural vs. Medication

There are a lot of things we don't know about PMS, such as what exactly causes it, but we do know this: it tends to start during the second half of the menstrual cycle, and three out of four women experience symptoms. Of those experiencing it, 5% are completely incapacitated because of the severity of their symptoms! It's no wonder we reach for PMS relief as soon as we get an inkling of potential symptoms!

Before you dole out the drugs, though, consider: There are a variety of natural ways to deal with PMS symptoms like cramps, bloating, and sore breasts. Some of these treatments are as simple as little lifestyle changes:

  • Reduce irritability and prevent binge eating by snacking or eating small meals every three hours instead of the usual three meals a day.
  • While we're on nutrition, remember to eat a balanced diet of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try to avoid a lot of extra salt and sugar.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, or meditation to help avoid headaches and anxiety.
  • Be kind to your body and switch up your sleep routine and schedule if needed to make sure you're getting enough sleep!
  • Keep hydrated with plenty of water and avoid sugary or caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee, or alcohol to help with bloating and fluid retention.
  • Exercise! While regular exercise should be a priority all the time, it's especially important in the battle for PMS relief.

If basic lifestyle changes aren't really cutting it, there are still some natural options to try. Many herbs will provide you with the same relief as an over the counter medication without the potential side effects. For example:

  • If you take ibuprofen for headaches, try Magnesium.
  • If you take antidepressants to deal with mood issues, try 5-HTP, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin E, Iron, or Manganese.
  • If you up the caffeine during PMS to deal with fatigue, try Green Tea or Fenugreek.
  • The GirlU natural supplement always has your back!

ALWAYS check with your doctor before experimenting with any medications or herbal remedies! There may be interactions you need to be careful of.

Looking for more info about natural PMS relief? Check out the infographic below!

 

PMS symptoms and natural solutions

This handy infographic gives you all the info you need on PMS symptoms and natural solutions.

Period Mythbusters

Pads and tampon with red calendar background

Here's a look at some of the period myths you no longer have to live by!
Image: Shutterstock

You’ve probably heard a lot of things about having a period that just aren’t true. Because many folks have a hard time talking openly about menstruation, it’s easy for period myths to build up, especially amongst younger women who may not feel they have a good place to get solid answers to their questions.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s get out there with some period mythbusting action! Have you ever fallen for any of the period myths below?

 

MYTH: You can’t go swimming when you have your period.

TRUTH: You absolutely CAN go swimming! Just make sure you’re using the right protection for the task at hand—probably a tampon or menstrual cup. Pads aren’t going to do you much good in the pool!

 

MYTH: Exercising during your period is bad for you.

TRUTH: Exercise is generally always good for you, especially if you suffer from cramps. If you have severe cramping (dysmenorrhea) or excessive blood flow (menorrhagia), you may want to check with your doctor first, though.

 

MYTH: You shouldn’t have sex when you have your period.

TRUTH: There’s no medical reason not to have sex even if you’re having your period. It might be a bit messy, but that’s between you and your partner.

 

MYTH: You can’t get pregnant on your period.

TRUTH: Since it’s possible for ovulation to occur during your period, it’s possible for you to get pregnant. It’s extremely unlikely, but if you have a particularly short menstrual cycle that puts your ovulation and menstruation very close, it could happen. The only way to definitely NOT get pregnant is to either not have sex or always use birth control/condoms when you do.

 

MYTH: A menstrual cycle always lasts 28 days.

TRUTH: Cycles are as varied as the people who have them. Twenty-eight days is only an average; some cycles are as short as 21 days, while others can last up to 35 days. Different kinds of birth control can also affect the length and heaviness of a period.

 

There are plenty of period myths out there, so be sure to check with your doctor and other reputable sources to make sure you’re getting the most accurate information. Your health and peace of mind are worth it!