Get back your stolen week!

PMS? How can you make the most of your time of the month?

Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

17 February 2017

Let’s get back your stolen week!

Feel that you’re having a week ‘stolen’ from you each month as a result of your period? This could be down to the pain and discomfort you’re in, perhaps you’re just not in the mood, or maybe your behaviours just change somehow and you don’t quite know why. 

One thing’s for sure – your period shouldn’t be causing you this much grief and I’m about to tell you how it’s all going to change. I outline some top tips, so in no time at all, you can get back that stolen week.

1. First step – understand what’s going on.

Too many women simply put up with a whole horde of horrible symptoms each month and don’t actually understand what’s going on in their bodies. If you understand it, you can have a right good go at putting it right! Hormone imbalances are quite often at the root cause of PMS symptoms, in particular, oestrogen dominance can be a big issue. Listen to your symptoms, track them and you’ll be more likely to see patterns emerge which you can then tackle head on.

2. You are what you eat

If you choose to eat stodgy, processed foods, then it shouldn’t be any great surprise when you end up feeling rubbish. Around the time of your period, you’re at your most vulnerable anyway (low oestrogen can make us feel a bit rubbish for a whole number of reasons) so there’s no better time to eat well! Eat fresh foods rich in vitamins and minerals and aim to reduce sugar, salt, alcohol, caffeine and dairy intake – all of which are thought to contribute to symptoms of PMS.

3. Proper hydration is key

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to help keep you feeling your best. Water helps to keep your bowels moving (a bunged-up bowel can make period pain a whole lot worse) plus, if you can replace other drinks which could be having detrimental effects (such as those of the caffeinated variety) with water, then this is always a bonus. Get creative; why not try drinking warm water with some lemon in, or water with some cucumber and mint in for a refreshing new taste?                       

4. Sort your gut out

As mentioned above, water is a good place to start in terms of improving your digestion; as is including lots of fibre-rich veggies. However, what else could be going on? Bad bacteria could be having their way, that’s what. You see, you have both bad and good bacteria naturally occurring in your gut, and this in itself isn’t a problem, but it’s the balance of them that’s crucial. If your gut environment isn’t supporting your good bacteria, the bad guys can quickly multiply. You can help support your gut environment going forward by taking Molkosan, which is rich in gut-friendly L+ lactic acid. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in your bacteria, is thought to give rise to a number of symptoms – from bloating, to diarrhoea, to potentially even affecting your mood! All of these symptoms can crop up around the time of your period anyway as a result of plummeting oestrogen, so, if we can work towards achieving a healthy gut, this is half the battle and troublesome symptoms such as these are less likely to get out of hand and affect your day-to-day life.

5. Don’t be afraid of trying out some supplements

The idea of taking supplements might be new to you and you might wonder if they’ll even work or if they’re really necessary. Well, in many cases the answer could be yes, and hey, you won’t know until you try! A worrying number of women are thought to be deficient in both vitamin D and magnesium, and there’s evidence to suggest that both of these little beauties can have positive effects on symptoms of PMS. In more individual cases, certain herbs can come in really handy too. Oestrogen dominance, characteristic of symptoms including heavy, painful periods, sore breasts and irritability, can often be helped with the use of the herb Agnus castus. Agnus castus naturally supports your progesterone levels, and progesterone basically acts as a little mediator and helps to keep oestrogen in check – neat!

6. Let’s address that stress

Much like the state of your gut, your mood and stress levels can really have a big impact around your ‘time of the month’. Stress can work in a terrible vicious cycle, and in extreme cases it can affect your menstrual cycle, which makes you more stressed (for example if you miss a period and don’t know why), which affects your cycle further, and so on! Plus, if you’re stressed already, when oestrogen drops off at the end of the month (we rely on oestrogen to keep us feeling happy and in control) these feelings are much more likely to spiral into other feelings such as anxiety or even depression. So, think positive, address that stress (our Stress Relief Daytime Drops may come in useful to help keep stress at bay) and don’t let that pesky period get the better of you!

7. Lower your toxic load

Toxins are everywhere nowadays and in modern-day life they are admittedly hard to avoid – but do you realise just how big an influence they could be having on your hormones? Chemicals in your environment have the potential to mimic oestrogen in the body and may actually be contributing to hormone imbalances in many cases. For example, many can be found lurking in dairy products, toiletries and beauty products, household cleaning products, plastics and pesticides – scary! PMS-specific tips for avoiding extra chemicals include using unbleached tampons, for example. Remember, every little helps and you really could start to notice the difference

8. Last but not least, stop letting PMS hold you back

Too many of us are guilty of making excuses around the time of our periods, when in fact, this is the very time we should be getting out there and cheering ourselves up! Dodging exercise is a great example. Your period shouldn’t stop you exercising. In fact, did you know that the production of endorphins as a result of exercising could help with period pain and give your mood a well needed boost? And it’s not just exercise that should be reintroduced. Make that extra effort to see friends at this time, spend time with loved ones as you normally would and do things you enjoy – go for it and don’t be letting your period hold you back any longer!

Agnus castus


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A traditional herbal remedy used to relieve the symptoms of PMS
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Here's what I recommend

As the A.Vogel Women's Health advisor, I recommend Agnus castus to help relieve symptoms such as menstrual cramps, breast tenderness and irritability.

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