Period Mood Swings and You

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What causes period mood swings, and what can you do about them?
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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!

5 Ways to Soothe Period Bloating

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Many people deal with period bloating, but there are simple ways to fight the bloat!
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Many of us suffer from period bloating during that time of the month, likely caused by hormonal fluctuations that happen naturally during the menstrual cycle. Just another uncomfortable symptom to put up with, right? Think again! There are plenty of small, simple things you can do to soothe the bloat. Here are just a few to get you started:

  • Cut the caffeine and alcohol. Or at least cut down significantly! Your body has a harder time dealing with hormone fluctuations if it also has to deal with caffeine and alcohol, so be kind and give it a break. Try a soothing herbal tea as an alternative.
  • Slow down on the sugar. Sure, you might be craving it like mad, but you do have other options—maple syrup, sugar-free honey, raw coconut sugar—that are likely to be less harsh on a body already dealing with overactive hormones.
  • Eat well. This holds true basically all the time, but it’s especially important when dealing with period bloating. Dark green vegetables (broccoli, kale, watercress) and complex carbohydrates (whole wheat, rye, brown rice) are especially good for providing needed nutrients, in particular fiber. You may also want to try up to six small meals throughout the day instead of the typical three to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
  • Try avoiding soy. Soy contains estrogen, which can interfere with the normal balance of sex hormones. This means products like soymilk and tofu can cause problems with bloating during your period. You’ve got other options, though: regular cow’s milk, oat milk, and coconut milk can all be good substitutions.
  • Avoid cooking or re-heating foods in plastic. When plastic heats up, tiny traces can leak into the food, which can wreck havoc with your hormones. Better to use ceramic some other material instead.

You mileage may vary on which tricks to use, but in the end, it’s important to keep track of when the period bloating hits, how it interacts with other symptoms, and what the experience is like for you—so you know how to soothe bloat quickly and get back to living uninterrupted!