8 Reasons You Have PMS & Painful Periods
A normal period is possible. By normal I mean, you still live the life you want.
Your moods don’t have to shift like the tectonic plates under Los Angeles and northern California - inciting an emotional meltdown.
You won’t lie in bed with a hot water bottle on your stomach and the electric heating pad on your back.
You can have the energy to get up and get out.
But before you get to the dreamy land of painless periods and a PMS-free existence, you’ve got to figure out what’s going wrong.
Here’s 8 reasons you don’t like that time of the month. (Or the 7-14 days preceding it.)
ONE: Other medical conditions complicate your reproductive health
Disorders of your endocrine system (organs of the pituitary, adrenals, thyroid, parathyroids and/or pancreas) can impact your ovaries and hormonal balance.
Take hypothyroidism for example. During the 14 days before your bleed, if your thyroid operates suboptimally, variations in your T3, T4, and TSH hormones can lead to PMS symptoms.
Major depressive and mood disorders are two other prominent reasons for PMS. Imbalances in brain chemistry, an underlying cause of both disorders, cause PMS.
TWO: High estrogen compared to progesterone
Research shows that, overall, hormonal imbalance doesn't cause PMS. But in you, as an individual, that may not be true.
Your estrogen compared to your progesterone as you progress through the monthly cycle will determine if you have PMS.
Estrogen drops after ovulation. Typically progesterone steps in to buffer the negative effects of the estrogen decrease.
But low progesterone or diminished progesterone receptor activity allows estrogen to cause:
Fibrocystic breast disease > aka lumpy breast disease
Insulin resistance > precursor to diabetes & obesity
Low endorphins > low mood
Low vitamin B6 > sluggish liver & stronger PMS symptoms
THREE: Poor coping styles to deal with stress
Stress shifts your body at the cellular level. If you’re not handling your stress then you can’t get better.
If you choose any of the following coping styles, you're distracting yourself.
Binge-watching t.v. on the regular
Excessive, undisciplined behavior
Chemical dependence on drugs (including weed even if it’s not considered illicit anymore)
Destructive behaviors like unprotected sex
Unfortunately, poor coping styles leave you susceptible to the disease-causing power of stress and prevent your PMS-free, painless period.
FOUR: Not exercising
A paragraph or two above, I wrote that excess estrogen lowers endorphins. You can increase endorphins with exercise.
Your body needs a bit of sweat and a little elevated heart rate for about 15-30minutes, 4-5 times a week.
That could easily be a 7-minute walk away from your house.
And then a 7-minute walk back to your home.
(Btw, have you seen the glow on your face after a good sweat?!?! You could walk into the street and get a date after a good sweat and shower!)
Exercise reduces pain, improves concentration, buffers a negative mood, and lessens depression and anxiety. It also reduces excess estrogen.
FIVE: Eating the wrong foods
Your diet affects PMS. It affects any health condition you have, as a matter of fact.
Here are sobering statistics about the diets which cause PMS.
62% more refined carbohydrates
275% more refined sugar
79% more cow dairy products
78% more sodium
53% less iron
77% less manganese
52% less zinc
Low protein (less than the recommended 1 gram of protein/kg. Check out the infographic I created to do the math.)
Hmmm, do you see yourself in that list? I see myself - when I get PMS, that is.
I’m at the point now where I haven’t had PMS in over a year or more. But if it happens, I can trace it back to food. Or to a food sensitivity I haven’t dealt with. The point - it always comes back to my diet.
Salty, low mineral, high carb foods contribute to PMS and painful periods. Here’s a list of 30 salty foods that you eat without thinking about it.
And what about sugar? It finagles its way in as well. Here’s a list of 10 ways companies add sugar to your foods.
The solution? Start adding healing, period-supportive foods into your diet.
Check out this post about a simple way I reduced eating out and made cooking possible for the most anti-cook in the world - me. (I suffered from moderate depression too so it had to be stupidly easy for me to do it.)
The effects of eating pro-inflammatory, estrogen-rising, hormone imbalanced foods includes:
Lower serotonin > low mood and food cravings
Higher insulin > swelling/bloating in the hands, feet, stomach, breast
Mood swings or negative mood
Wow! Could you be eating your way to PMS and painful periods?
SIX: Poor liver function
That organ on the right-hand side of your body, a bit behind and below the bottom of your rib cage, holds your life in its cells.
The liver affects every metabolic process in your body. Minor impairment dramatically shifts your physiology and your quality of life.
So a sluggish liver - from excess estrogen, a high toxic load, deficient vitamins and minerals, blood sugar imbalance and countless other reasons - contributes to PMS and painful periods.
Your liver function tests will appear normal. But you’ll feel its suboptimal function every month and in a myriad of ways. (It only dump enzymes into the blood when you have a frank disease like cirrhosis or fatty liver disease.)
SEVEN: Impaired gut health
Do you have bloating, gas, acid reflux, eczema, or endometriosis? Those are all related to poor gut health.
PMS and painful periods are too.
An inflamed gut, microbial imbalance, or suboptimal function anywhere from your mouth to your anus impacts reproductive health.
You may not absorb the iron you need from your diet, so you suffer from anemia.
Or, your immune system may attack your body causing endometriosis and the associated pain.
The bacteria to combat inflammation, metabolize excess estrogen, and prevent another yeast infection may be out of wack. Or missing altogether.
Whatever you’re trying to accomplish in your health will only happen with a healthy gut.
EIGHT: Systemic inflammation
Ask your doctor to test for CRP. It’s called C-reactive protein. It demonstrates body-wide inflammation.
You might not have an elevated CRP, but it’s something to know because you can fix it over time.
Even if you don’t have systemic inflammation as evidenced by CRP, low-grade inflammation affects your hormones - especially progesterone.
Progesterone, as I mentioned earlier, buffers the normal drop in estrogen. But inflammation hampers progesterone receptors from working. So, even with enough progesterone, you won’t feel the following protective effects.
Calm and emotional resiliency
Energy during your period
Less histamine that cause headaches, anxiety, brain fog
Inflammation also decreases your body’s ability to breakdown and excrete excess estrogen.
Excess estrogen leads to many of your PMS symptoms both physically and emotionally.
How do you know if you have inflammation? Here are the main sources:
Eating a standard American diet (meat, little veggies/fiber, carbs, desserts/sweets, cow dairy products, processed foods, high salty foods less than 64 oz of water a day)
Other health problems
Less than 7-8 hours of restful sleep
Imbalanced gut bacteria
Little to no exercise
High toxic burden from plastics, inorganic vegetables (pesticide source), mercury and heavy metals (certain fish)
Now that you know, what do you do?
If you've already downloaded the infographic I created, 31 Natural Therapies for a PMS-Free Period, I hope you'll start on the supplements and lifestyle choices.
Those are all powerful ways to shift your physiology for a better period during your next cycle. So, get started today.
Until next time, keep it simple, scientific and natural
Dr. Tori Hudson N.D. - A Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine
Dr. Lara Briden N.D. - The Period Repair Manual
Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno & Michael T. Murray - Textbook of Natural Medicine