How to support Pre Menstrual Comfort
During the Premenstrual period women can experience a range of physical and emotional changes with younger females aged 20-40 more likely to experience these.
The most notable signs include muscle tension, mood changes and fatigue and in New Zealand, it’s estimated that up to 40% of women experience these.
What are the common signs?
These can vary from female to female. Common issues you may experience are:
- Bloating & distention
- Digestive changes such as sluggish bowels
- Head & neck tension
- Back tension
- Tender breasts
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
- Social withdrawal
- Poor mental focus
- Skin changes includes breakouts & oily skin
If you experience severe effects on a regular basis, seek advice from your healthcare professional for support. These may be an indication of a more severe underlying condition, and this should be investigated by a healthcare professional.
What are the causes?
Whilst it remains unknown what causes these changes, it is believed to be due to a change in hormone levels in females. In your luteal phase, from ovulation (usually day 14 of your cycle if you run by a 28-day cycle) up to the first day of your period bleed, your oestrogen and progesterone levels shift.
Various dietary factors are thought to have an impact including:
- High salt foods – consuming high amounts of salty foods can cause water retention resulting in bloating
- Sugar – processed foods high in sugar cause a rapid rise and crash in blood sugar levels resulting in intense mood swings and cravings
- Coffee – can constrict or narrow the blood vessels which may cause an increase in muscle and head & neck tension
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies of magnesium, calcium, zinc and B vitamins
Other factors including stress, underlying health conditions (mental health conditions or thyroid disorders) alongside increased exposure to xeno-estrogens (those found in perfumes, pesticides etc) can contribute.
Dietary and lifestyle tips to support Pre Menstrual Comfort
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Increase Omega-3 rich foods including salmon, cod-liver oil, oysters, flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds.
- Enjoy calcium rich foods such as milk, yoghurt & cheese
- Include breakfast in your day – research suggests skipping breakfast and other meals may contribute to hormonal imbalances
- Reduce sugar consumption
- Increase water intake
- Increase magnesium rich foods such as dark leafy greens and pumpkin seeds to support your nervous system
- Ensure you are receiving adequate protein from animal based or plant-based proteins
- Participate in regular exercise to support physical and emotional health
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Participate in stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathing to reduce the impact stress can have on you during this time
Thompson’s Herbal Favourites to support Pre Menstrual comfort
Vitex or Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is used in females to provide support for premenstrual comfort. The fruit of the herb works to provide support for breast tenderness, feelings of aggression and irritability. Vitex is a great herb for support with digestive upsets such as abdominal bloating and distention.
In traditional Western herbal practice, Vitex is used to support menstrual cycle regularity in women of reproductive age.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a herb not to be missed with its use in supporting the bodies response to stress, based on traditional Western herbal practice. Supporting the nervous system is a key aspect for supporting your response to the changes experienced monthly.
Always read the label and use as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. Integria, Auckland