Chocolate for PMS, a benefit or a cliché?

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You have seen the gif files of emotional women stuffing their faces with chocolate for PMS symptoms.  Does chocolate really provide PMS relief or is it yet another goofy claim to manage fluctuating hormones?

Chocolate begins with cacao, which is loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants.  Both are more prevalent in dark chocolate and chocolate with 70% cacao is the best choice for health purposes.  Here are a few of the good things our research showed about controlled chocolate consumption.

  • Chocolate is good for cardiovascular health.
  • Chocolate keeps the brain healthy and prevents memory decline.

But does it help with PMS?  According to our research, it might have a temporary “feel good” benefit.  Carbohydrates help brain cells make more serotonin, which is the “happy” or “feeling good” brain chemical.  This can damper the anger, irritability, anxiety and cravings women might be facing 3-5 days before menstruation.  As mentioned before on this blog, serotonin levels are thought to drop during the PMS phase of the cycle due to hormonal fluctuations.

Chocolate has sugar and caffeine, sugar is a carbohydrate and the caffeine will help with fatigue.  The key to all of this is “controlled consumption.”  A couple of pieces of delicious dark chocolate melting in your mouth might just make you feel a little better on a temporary basis, too much chocolate will send you crashing later on with a big time sugar low!

Think in terms of consuming one or two individually wrapped Ghirardelli
Squares, or Hershey Kisses or Dove Chocolate Mini Squares…not a gigantic Toblerone!

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 #tbt

pms tbt_finalToday is a #tbt of some of our favorite PMS Relief blog posts!  There are many ways to naturally alleviate some of the worst symptoms of PMS, but it is really, really difficult to stay the course using healthy alternatives when your body is in revolt and your willpower is flagging.   Fatigue and pain sometimes get the better of us, so give yourself a break if you just need a nap or a candy bar.

PMS Bloating: One of the best things to do is disguise it with good wardrobe choices since this is temporary water weight gain.

Period Cramps: Bring on the external heat and double up with a cup of tea to warm up from the inside as well.

Food Cravings: The number one tip is to employ a distraction long enough so that the temptation passes.  But, there is nothing like a healthy diet and we offered up these smoothie recipes to help with PMS symptoms.

Sore Breasts: Breasts do get tender and swollen from hormonal changes, but check your bra size because squished boobs hurt even worse on PMS days.

Low Self Esteem:  Does it seem like everyone else is posting happy pics on social media? Take a screen break and take your workout outside.

PMS Acne: Don’t pick, just keep your hands off your face.  Have you seen those articles about all of the “yuck” on your smart phone? You do not want to transfer that to your pores.

PMS Nausea: Eat regular meals and good snacks so your blood sugar doesn’t plummet.

Mood Swings: To calm the drama, get a sweat going.

Period Headaches:  Good food choices and plenty of sleep can help keep these at bay.

Fight through the temptation and make smart food choices, get plenty of rest at night and get moving during the day!

Is it PMS or Perimenopause?

 

WIt could still be PMS when you are in your 40’s, but the symptoms of perimenopause are strikingly familiar to PMS.    Hormone fluctuations are at the root of both PMS and perimenopause. There are a whole host of physical and emotional symptoms associated with perimenopause and like PMS, not every woman has the same experience or symptoms.   As with PMS, there are natural ways to deal with symptoms through diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle and getting enough sleep.  Is perimenopause just PMS when a woman is in her 40’s?

Perimenopause is state of transition in a woman’s reproductive cycle that typically starts somewhere in the 40’s.  Hormone fluctuations are different during this phase.   Ovaries produce less estrogen but follicle stimulating hormone rises so…get ready for this…menstrual cycles shorten.   What was once a 28 day cycle might become a 25 day cycle.  Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates egg growth and development, but when ovulation becomes erratic and cycles shorten, your “flow” can go from normal to very heavy.

Perimenopause, as a coined term, is relatively new.  The four to five year time frame before menopause was only labeled peri or pre menopause roughly 20 years ago.  Most women realize things are changing because approximately 40% of women in their 40’s report symptoms, like mood swings, irregular cycles, heavy flow or hot flashes, but it is difficult to define how long you have been perimenopausal or exactly when menstruation will cease.

As with PMS, there are ways to treat and handle the unpleasant symptoms of hormonal fluctuations in our cycles.  They will sound familiar to you!

Exercise regularly-Abdominal fat starts to appear but regular exercise can melt fat, improve your mood and reduce your flow.  Mixing it up with strength training, cardio and yoga covers you for decreasing muscle loss, melting fat and providing a little “zen.”

Avoid Hot Flash triggers-Pay attention to your body!  If you drink wine or coffee, does that trigger a hot flash?  How about spicy foods or overly warm environments?  Try to avoid what ails you!  And if your hot flash is interrupting your sleep in the form of night sweats, invest in some pajamas that wick moisture away from your body.

Sleep-If an eye mask and ear plugs help, use them.  Try chamomile tea, practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques.  Poor sleep quality does not help your mood or your food choices during the day.  Keep experimenting with pillows until you find one that keeps your head supported, maybe have another pillow handy so there are three cool sides to the pillow at all hours of the night!

It is common to experience a little sadness when menstruation finally ceases, but then not having a period becomes extremely liberating!

How to Beat PMS Acne

period_acnePMS acne doesn't affect everyone who has a period, since we all react to hormonal shifts in our bodies differently, but it’s actually pretty common:  a study from the Archives of Dermatology found that 63% of acne-prone women experience premenstrual acne flare ups, usually about seven to ten days before their period.

It’s those lovely up-and-down hormones that can wreck havoc with our skin.  Rising levels of progesterone mid-cycle can cause a build up of sebum, a thick, oily substance that acts as a natural skin lubricant.  For some, this means a healthy-looking glow; for others, though, it means increased breakouts.

It’s important to note that these breakouts aren’t due to your hygiene regimen; it’s far more related to hormones, which, unfortunately, you can’t do a whole lot about.  But don’t worry—there are things you can do to keep your skin healthy and happy, minimizing the effect of a PMS acne breakout!  Here are some tips:

  • Avoid touching your face—your hands can help spread dirt and bacteria, exactly what you don’t want during a breakout!
  • Clean your cell phone regularly. Phones can store up a lot of bacteria, and if you’re not keeping your phone clean, you’re introducing that bacteria to the most vulnerable parts of your face—your jaw line and chin.
  • If you’re working out at the gym, put a towel down on the mats to protect yourself from other people’s germs.
  • Don’t smoke—smoking contributes to all forms of acne.
  • Stay hydrated! Drinking lots of water can help flush toxins out of your body, which is great news for your skin.
  • Wash your face twice a day. Make sure to avoid products that include oil.  You may even want to step it up a notch and try a facial mask for added self-care and relaxation.
  • Consider herbal supplements, including zinc, vitamin B6, and chaste tree berry. Chaste tree berry, incidentally, is one of the herbs in the GirlU supplement, so be sure to check that out!

PMS acne can be one of the more frustrating PMS symptoms, but there are plenty of natural options for beating it!

What to Do About Nausea Before Your Period

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A lot of us have to deal with uncomfortable PMS symptoms every month, and few are as debilitating as nausea before your period.

Like many other symptoms, PMS nausea is likely caused by fluctuations in hormone levels, in particular, estrogen.  Changes in the amounts of progesterone and hormone-like substances called prostaglandins don’t help, either.  These hormones all ensure that your body does what it needs to do in terms of preparing for childbirth, and luckily, symptoms like nausea usually go away once you actually start your period.  But what can you do until then?

First, you should make sure the nausea isn’t caused by something other than your period.  For example, nausea is a typical symptom during pregnancy, particularly right around when your period usually happens.  Another possible culprit, endometriosis, happens when the cells that make up the uterus lining start growing outside of the uterus, which can cause nausea, bloating, diarrhea, rectal pain, and cramps.  So you definitely want to check with your doctor to make sure your symptoms aren’t related to either of these conditions first.

If they’re not, you’re likely just experiencing another fun PMS symptom that could use a little attention and possibly an herbal remedy.  Here are some tips to rid yourself of that nausea right away so you can get back to living life uninterrupted.

Eat consistent, well-balanced meals.  Nausea before your period can be caused by low blood sugar, which affects the chemical levels in your body.  If you make sure you’re eating well and at regular intervals, you can stave off the worst of it.

Keep track of when the nausea occurs.  Use a period tracker like this one to record when the symptoms hit.  This is the best way to determine if it’s related to your period or something else entirely, which might require a different approach.

Go herbal.  Tried-and-true remedies like ginger, mint tea, cayenne, and raspberry leaf are good choices for combatting nausea.  Ginger in particular has had the most clinical study done on its effectiveness, and it’s been ranked the most effective herb for menstrual nausea and vomiting.

Try antacids.  Sometimes PMS nausea isn’t so different from nausea that’s not related to your cycle.  It’s possible that excess acid in the stomach during the menstrual cycle is causing your distress, so popping a Tums could really help.

Turn to GirlU!  The GirlU herbal supplement is an all-natural way to fight PMS symptoms and have you feeling better fast.  Particularly if nausea isn’t your only symptom, GirlU is the way to go.

Don’t let nausea before your period put a damper on your day!  Try the options above and feel better fast!

The Best GirlU Blogs of 2014

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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!

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.

Your PMS Survival Kit

Tea, teapot, sweaters, cinnamon sticks, and a daffodil

Sometimes you just need a PMS survival kit for some extra TLC during that time of the month.
Image: Shutterstock

Let’s admit it: Sometimes the PMS symptoms are so bad, you just want to curl up and wait it out. That’s when you need a PMS survival kit--a collection of soft, cozy, comfortable things that will help you pamper yourself a bit until you’re ready to get back to the daily grind.

What goes into the perfect PMS survival kit? We took a stab at it with our GirlU Pampering Gift Basket Giveaway (enter now, and be sure to check out the rules and regs!), which includes things like gourmet chocolate, a Hot Cherry Therapeutic Pillow, Eos Lip Balm, and so much more! Here are some more ideas for the perfect self-pampering, PMS-symptom-fighting survival kit:

  • A journal. The size, color, pattern, and type of paper don’t matter—get whatever delights you…and USE IT! For the times when your emotions are going haywire, or you just need a bit of time to yourself, take a moment to write down what you’re thinking and feeling. Getting things down on paper that you know you don’t have to share with anyone can be a great way to let out the bad mojo and get back to feeling better.
  • A huge, plush uterus. Okay, maybe it’s not absolutely necessary, but come on, who doesn’t want a cute plush to cuddle the stuffing out of when you’re feeling down? And if it happens to be shaped like the organ that’s currently causing you woes…well, that’s just an added bonus.
  • A giant glass of water. Staying hydrated is particularly important during PMS, so you definitely want to keep the water handy. And why not use a colorful glass or tumbler to cheer you up?
  • A collection of favorite movies, music, and books. This will vary by person, of course, but what better way to treat yourself than to take some time with the stories you love? Watching a favorite movie, listening to soothing music, or reading a good book can go a long way toward making you feel better.
  • A compact with your supply of GirlUninterrupted! GirlU is the all-natural way to fight PMS symptoms and make sure they stay gone.

So those are our ideas—now what about yours? Do you have go-to snacks or yoga poses just for that time of the month? How about a craft or a particular pair of fuzzy socks that cheers you right up? Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or G+!