The PMS Lack of Research Rant

rantAfter years of reading articles about premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, there is one sentence about the lack of research that appears in almost all of these articles.  Even though half of the population is female and even though there are millions of women who are menstruating monthly, the one line in these articles says something like, “there is very little research around premenstrual syndrome” or “there is very little research about the woman’s cycle” or “there is some general consensus that serotonin levels drop during the luteal phase but very little research,”  do you get the picture?

It is galling, really and truly galling that there is very little research on the effect of surging and dipping hormones.  PMS isn’t a disease to be cured, but why isn’t study and research warranted on the topic if women suffer from PMS?  There isn’t even consensus around how many women PMS effects.  Some articles say 60-70% of menstruating women, while other articles say 85% of menstruating women have at least one symptom of PMS.

Would there be ample research around PMS if it happened to men?  Take male pattern baldness which seems to be more of a genetic condition than a disease, so again a condition to be eased or reversed but not cured.  Look at the pipeline of products from topical foams, to pills, to hair plugs, lots of people have worked to ease this condition which is vanity based and not pain based.  It is just an interesting comparison.   Erectile dysfunction is another example of a male health issue. Plenty of research on that topic, lots of medicines to help there and yet there are probably fewer men experiencing ED on any given day than the number of women suffering from PMS symptoms on any given day.

Right now there is a wave of innovation by women who are tackling period products and premenstrual discomfort because we know it’s an issue and we know there are better ways to handle it.

Stay tuned to GirlU for more information on our upcoming products for PMS relief…we are focusing on one issue and that is living each day uninterrupted.  We want to give you the products you need to ameliorate the many symptoms of PMS so you can live those days without interruption.

PMS Food Cravings

cupcakesFull disclosure: This blog was drafted in writer’s head on a walk to coffee shop for decaf skim latte to avoid office birthday cake temptation!

As rational women, here is what we know.  We know that diet is critical to mitigating PMS symptoms.  By eating small meals throughout the day to avoid extreme hunger and by choosing vegetables and lean protein, we can fill our bodies with the food it needs to maintain balanced blood sugar and avoid food cravings.

But food cravings are powerful and fluctuating hormones can sometimes be hard to overcome.  During our PMS days, stress hormone, cortisol, can spike and feel-good hormone, serotonin, drops.  What temporarily boosts serotonin? Carbohydrates boost serotonin.  And the problem is that we crave the most fat and sugar filled carbohydrates during stressful and emotional times of the month.

We asked for coping strategies from a sampling of women and here are their answers.

  • Taking a walk and sipping on a warm beverage are two coping strategies. Both light exercise and caffeine can provide a boost.  If you are stressed out, go easy on the caffeine because you really don’t need a boost, you need the Zen affect of sipping something warm and soothing.   A dusting of chocolate or cinnamon to the top of a latte or cappuccino provides a dessert type flavor to the coffee, satisfying a sweet tooth for some.
  • Chew gum. Sugarless grape bubble gum was the respondent’s choice for a sweet pick me up, but mint or bubble gum flavors are also fine.
  • Have a conversation with yourself to understand the craving. Ask yourself if you are really hungry or are you bored?  Are you eating your emotions and is there something else you could do instead (take a walk, pick up your knitting, write in a journal) to work through the emotions?
  • Make a satisfying substitution. One respondent said that she eats a few dark chocolate covered almonds versus a candy bar and rationalizes it by saying that the almonds are healthier than a candy bar from the vending machine.  Plus, it satisfies the craving for chocolate.

Here is a little secret that most women don’t know, your metabolism revs up during your PMS days.  It is Mother Nature’s little offset for those PMS food cravings!  Try to bust through cravings by distracting yourself or substituting a healthier option, but forgive yourself and move on if you find yourself in a miserable mood finishing a bag of chips.

Does PMS Affect You at Work?

workReading about the #EqualPayDay campaign got us thinking about the $.78 women earn for every $1.00 a man earns.  Men don’t get a period.  As women, do our cycles affect our productivity?  For those of us who deal with PMS, the 3-5 days when you are in the midst of surging and crashing hormones don’t automatically fall on weekends and holidays!

We want to hear from you before we make any decisions on this idea and so we have designed an anonymous, 6 question survey centered around this topic.  Completing the survey takes under 1 minute and we will report back right here when we have compiled enough data to formulate a thoughtful response.

Please share this link with your friends and family and ask them to take the survey too!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KQRCQJD

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!

Fitness Tips That Can Help Relieve PMS Symptoms

image005We were recently quoted in the Edmonton Journal. An excerpt of the article on fitness tips for relieving PMS is listed below.

Cardiovascular exercise stimulates endorphins, a group of hormones that improve your mood and stoke your energy. It also makes you sweat, which can help if one of your PMS symptoms is bloating, says Mayling Kajiya, a New York-based certified strength and conditioning specialist and PMS expert, with an extensive background in nutrition.

They don’t have to exercise at a high intensity or the intensity they usually work out at. Walking, using a recumbent bike or cross-trainer, some light stretching, can help flexibility and relieve muscle tension.”

Mayling says: “If you can get out of bed and you can exercise, you should. Don’t be afraid of PMS or let it bother you.”

To motivate herself to get out and exercise during that time of the month, Mayling starts to listen to her workout music while she gets ready to go to the gym. She also visualizes the workout she’s going to do and how good it’s going to make her feel after.

Click here to read full article