Updated: Nov 5, 2020
My PMT symptoms have certainly worsened as I've moved into my mid-thirties and since I gave birth to my two sons. I have, over these past few years, tried many things to try and ease the sickness, migraines and phycological pain that came as lovely add-on gifts with my monthly cycle. The symptoms started to get so severe that they were really having an impact on my life and my capability to do my usual daytime activities.
Just try the pill…
I was advised by my GP to try the progesterone only birth-control pill, which I was on for about two years. She said it would help to balance out my hormones to a more manageable level. So, I decided it was worth a shot.
At first, perhaps for the first twelve months, I think my symptoms did get much better. The fact that I wasn’t ovulating or getting a period helped as these processes were being suppressed by the pill, and therefore that eliminated many of the related symptoms too. However, after about twelve months, I started to get really bad periods that would last for about three weeks and the side effects of sickness, lethargy and headaches came back with a vengeance! For some reason, the pill’s effects on my body were changing as time went on. It got so bad in the end, that my anxiety levels were at an all-time high. It didn’t help that I was also going through a particularly stressful time on a work project, which in combination triggered an awful six-week episode of vertigo – something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy!
Therefore, last October, I decided to stop taking the pill to try and let my hormones take their natural course. I wanted to see if I could manage my symptoms a different way. I decided I would try some more natural or self-help remedies to see if I could ease the pain I was feeling.
There isn’t a short-term fix, believe me
Six months later, and I have to say that I am now starting to see the benefits of the effort I have been putting in. November and December 2019 were pretty much right-off months for me. Christmas was a weird blur spent with me pretending to be normal and festive but internally feeling like I was a quivering wreck and sneakily hiding the glasses of wine I was passed at social gatherings. The pill-withdrawal effects were awful for me, with hormones cascading around my body like a tsunami. It took until around month four before I started to feel vaguely human again.
Here’s what my new lifestyle evolved into...
For starters, I started to travel three and a half hours every week to Halifax to see a vestibular expert called John Gonzalez to help with my vertigo symptoms. I feel so blessed to have met John – he is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met and so calm and kind at the same time. I will talk about the vertigo treatment in a separate article for those who might be suffering with this too.
Trying to get into healthy sleep habits to build my immune system
Bedtime of 10pm each night
At least 20 minutes of reading before getting into bed or a bedtime story from the Calm app
Sleep sprays from This Works
(as advised by my GP/neighbour friend)
- Magnesium - best soaked in via bath salts or body cream
- Probiotics ( I take Optibac for women)
- B2 supplement
- Vitamin D supplement
Weekly acupuncture sessions for six weeks and then fortnightly – I found the loveliest acupuncture therapist, Patti Hemmings, who has now become a very good friend of mine. The long-term benefits of acupuncture in many aspects of my life have been phenomenal.
- No caffeine ever
- Very infrequent alcohol – I did cut it out completely for 3 months and now have only the odd small glass of Pinot (but only when I’m feeling good and mid cycle).
- No dairy (well maybe the very rare occasional brownie or dash of semi-skimmed in a cup of builder’s tea, but hardly anything.)
- Avoiding salt (I found eating salty things massively coincided with the migraines)
- Eliminating processed foods (mainly full of salt, sugar and additives which I can’t even pronounce)
- Much less meat, bit of fish, big salads, couscous, grains, beans, sweet potato wraps, home-made soups, wholemeal pasta dishes, spinach and mushrooms on toast.
- Yoga is my sanctuary. I practice at home, in the studio and teach sessions online.
- Have you read the book ‘How running saved my life’ by Isabella Rusbridger? Well I can relate to so much of it! I was never ever a big runner, but a weekly group 5k and a couple of 3ks every other day is what my body craved apparently. Such therapy for the soul I find.
- Breathing exercises daily. Alternate nostril breathing and stepping breaths really help me focus and calm.
Are you struggling with PMS too?
If so, share your struggles on here and see if there are others who share the same symptoms...