Ladies, this is a topic I am very passionate about because we’ve been told one of the biggest lies of all time for many many years.
That lie is this: PMS is a normal part of our lives and that we just have to suck it up.
False. That is 10000% false. The reality is that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is not normal and we don’t have to suffer.
Hormonal imbalances are part of a bigger systemic issue that can easily be corrected with simple food and lifestyle changes as well as some supplementation to help give your body the nutrients it needs during menstruation.
Premenstrual syndrome refers to the time before we start menstruation (aka bleed), which is usually 1-2 weeks prior.
It’s a catch all phrase for a series or symptoms we experience during that time that can be quite uncomfortable, and even debilitating for some.
Common PMS symptoms include:
Studies show that 30-40% of women report PMS symptoms that impair their daily activities. That’s 30-40% too many, my friends!
Before we dive into the real reasons behind PMS, let’s first do a quick recap of our cycle. We have four different phases:
I won’t get into the breakdown of what happens during every phase. If you want to read about that, this is a good resource. Where most women experience PMS is during the luteal phase, the 14 days before our menses start. This is when progesterone takes over, however if progesterone is low, or if estrogen is too high, things can go haywire. Estrogen is kind of like a big bully that always wants its way.
And yes, high estrogen can make us feel a little bit unhinged. Progesterone has a calming and anti-depressant effect, and it’s what helps promote sleep during this time. If there isn’t enough of it, our nervous system becomes compromised and we become overly anxious and emotional.
So here is the real deal on PMS. It’s the most common form of hormonal imbalance and the uncomfortable symptoms are usually a result of too much estrogen circulating, compared to progesterone. This is typically referred to as estrogen dominance.
About 50% of women over 35 are estrogen dominant.
Estrogen is an excitatory hormone. It has a strong effect on the serotonin levels, which is known as one of our “happy” chemicals. Estrogen is also involved in many other functions in our body in addition to our cycle such as bone development, heart health and sexual development.
We experience estrogen dominance for a few different reasons, including exposure to environmental toxins that disrupt our endocrine system, excess storage of estrogen in fat cells, and the inability of our liver to metabolize and remove excess estrogen from our body.
If you want to learn more about common environmental toxins that disrupt our hormones, check out my previous article.
And a lot of this also has to do with our diet and lifestyle. If we eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates, processed food, sugar and other junk foods then we deplete our vitamin and mineral stores, which leads to nutrient deficiencies and hormone imbalances. High levels of chronic stress can also impact hormone levels due to an increase in our stress hormone cortisol which can lead to estrogen dominance.
Other factors include:
If you suffer from breast tenderness around your cycle then you most definitely have excess estrogen circulating in your body, particularly your boobies, which are just big sacks of fat. And if you remember from above, estrogen is stored in our fat. In all actuality, our fat cells can make estrogen.
If our liver detoxification pathways are impaired, then that estrogen will stay there because our liver is too busy performing other essential tasks and can’t properly metabolize and remove it.
There’s also a strong connection between estrogen dominance and heavy metals in the body. The problem with heavy metals (lead, cadmium, aluminum, arsenic, mercury, etc) is that they bioaccumulate, meaning that they build up over time and do not go away on their own. Instead, they live in our fat cells and glands where hormones are created.
There are 4 heavy metals in particular that affect hormone imbalances: cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic. If you’ve had persistent hormonal issues as well as other symptoms like chronic fatigue, brain fog, weight loss resistance and recurring candida/yeast overgrowth then it might be time to get tested for heavy metals.
Unfortunately, heavy metals are really hard to avoid. We all have a little bit of mercury and lead in our bodies because they are in the air, in our water and for mercury, are really high in fish (tuna and raw sushi).
But there are ways we can support our detox pathways and use herbs and supplements known as binders to help remove heavy metals from the body. We’ll get into that in a little bit.
There is actually quite a lot we can do to help rebalance our hormones and alleviate our PMS symptoms (maybe even for good!).
I wish I could tell you that there’s an easy quick fix to reduce PMS and balance your hormones, but it takes time and patience, especially if you’ve had systemic imbalances for many years. But, don’t get discouraged because it is possible to improve or totally eliminate severe PMS symptoms and find balance.
I always recommend you talk with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before implementing any dietary or supplement protocols. Nothing in this article is intended to diagnose or provide medical advice.
That said, I am a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and one of my specialty areas is hormone balance. I have personally suffered from my own hormone issues (read about that here) and now am dedicated to helping other women overcome their suffering so they can love and appreciate their periods instead of dreading them!
If you’d like help stabilizing your hormones so you can feel like yourself again, let’s chat. I offer a free discovery call to see if we’d be a good fit and I would love to be a part of your healing journey. Learn more about my nutritional therapy packages and pricing here.