Premenstrual syndrome, otherwise known as PMS, is that oh-so-special time of the month for women when fluctuating hormones can create an array of unpleasant side effects.
Whether it’s tender breasts, bloating, cramping, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, irritability or something else, PMS is incredibly common.
In fact, new research by intimate wellbeing brand INTIMINA reveals women lose four months* of their life to PMS. That’s 120 days of their lives or 2,880 hours or 172,800 minutes they’ll never get back.
What’s more, nearly half (40%) of women have avoided seeing their doctor about period pains or PMS because they didn’t think their doctor would have taken their period pain or PMS seriously (20%), or be able to do anything to treat it (20%).
Despite menstrual health becoming less taboo, INTIMINA’s research also shows that nearly half (46%) of women think society doesn’t take PMS seriously, 43% believe more needs to be done to educate people on PMS and 41% say PMS is often made the butt of jokes.
INTIMINA’s resident gynaecologist Dr Shree Datta has provided her top five tips for women who experience PMS, in the hope of helping them get back even just a small part of the four months they’ll lose.
1. You don’t always need medication for PMS, as long as you are aware of your symptoms and respond accordingly. So, chart your cycle and symptoms on an app so that you can anticipate symptoms and review their severity. Look at whether there is anything which makes them better or worse.
2. Symptoms to watch for include anxiety or depression, mood swings, irritability, bloatedness and breast tenderness. Consider the impact of diet on your symptoms – for example, a salty diet may make you feel more bloated or swollen and caffeine may affect your mood. Watch your diet whilst at home and see whether alterations affect your symptoms over a cycle.
3. Think about sleep hygiene as this can also affect the severity of your symptoms and your mood. If you still have the opportunity to work from home, use this to monitor your sleep habits – for example, avoiding heavy exercise before bedtime. You may find a regular bedtime with a period of reading before sleep relaxes you more in the second half of your cycle, with a real impact on how severe your PMS symptoms are.
4. It’s very easy to consider medication to treat PMS, but the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends considering cognitive behaviour therapy (take a look at what’s available online), exercise – perhaps a run or home exercise class and taking vitamin B6 as alternatives. Now is a great time to trial these options and monitor how they affect your symptoms.
5. Practice meditation and mindfulness to manage any stress you are going through. Be mindful of how this affects your PMS; you may actually see an improvement in your PMS symptoms during this time!
Marcella Zanchi, INTIMINA Marketing Manager comments: “We’ve always known that PMS is incredibly common but we were surprised to find out that over the course of women’s lifetime, one will be detrimentally affected by PMS for four months. That’s four months of mood swings, feeling upset, anxious or irritable, having trouple sleeping or being tired, bloating or tummy pain, breast tenderness, headaches, spotty skin or greasy hair, as well as changes in appetite and sex drive. A whole four months almost equates to the time the UK was in it’s latest lockdown for. And the worst part is nearly half of women feel like they can’t go to their doctor about it. We hope the advice and tips from our resident gynaecologist Dr Shree Datta will help ease PMS symptoms for women across the country.”