Did you know there are healthy supplements for PMS symptoms? For decades, hormonal birth control has been prescribed for reasons such as the reduction of PMS symptoms. A 2011 study by the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that 14 percent of women using oral contraceptive pills used them “exclusively for noncontraceptive purposes,” with alleviating the pain of menstrual cramps and regulating periods to mitigate PMS symptoms like migraines at the top of the list.
The more we learn about birth control side effects (and the fact that early proponents of the Pill, in particular, knew dangers existed when they pushed OCs through the FDA), the more women are turning away from hormonal contraceptives and looking for healthier alternatives, both for family planning purposes and for PMS management.
Supplements for PMS symptoms are alternatives for the latter. There is some research that shows promise for those women whose symptoms fall in the mild to moderate categories of PMS. (See the end of this article for more severe PMS symptoms.)
Knowledge Is Power
The first step to solving a problem is rooting out the cause. In order to do that, a woman first needs to be well informed about what happens during the various phases of her cycle (hint: it’s more than just having your period or not having your period). Then they can identify during which phase they experience their symptoms. For many women, the most disruptive symptoms in their cycle occur shortly before menstruation, when the uterine lining begins to shed and progesterone and estrogen levels decrease.
Good nutrition, moderate exercise, and personalized supplementation can help rebalance hormones and thus decrease the severity of PMS symptoms. In short, when one system works better, everything works better.
Charting the cycle with a Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM) can help you and your instructor identify any hormonal imbalances or nutritional deficiencies that could be contributing to your symptoms. If you’d describe any of your symptoms as severe, you should talk with your healthcare provider about a deeper-seated issue that could be causing it.
Introducing Supplements for PMS Symptoms
Before trying any supplements for PMS symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider about what dosages are right for you and possible interactions with any current medications. You might also want to consult a nutritionist to analyze your diet and see where you can add in whole foods to better fuel yourself. Keep in mind that supplements are not regulated the same way food and medication are, so be sure to choose a company that you trust.
Among the supplements most commonly recommended to help with PMS symptoms are calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
Calcium has been shown to help with “fatigue, cravings, and depression.” If you suspect you’re not getting enough through dairy products or fortified foods, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 1,200 mg per day.
Vitamin B6 has “natural diuretic properties,” which means it can also help with water retention and breast tenderness. Additionally, it could help with mood issues and forgetfulness. Consuming more fish, poultry, and non-citrus fruits could help maintain good levels of this nutrient. Otherwise, consider adding 100-200 mg of Vitamin B6 per day to your regimen.
While it might seem easier to simply grab a box that claims to do it all, consider that supplements packaged in pre-fabricated formulations could result in your taking too much or not enough of something. Be sure to bring these to your doctor or nutritionist first to see if they’ll have a customized recommendation.
A Healthy Period Is a Good Thing
As annoying as PMS and our periods can be, they are also astute markers of when something’s not right in our bodies. Among the factors that can affect our cycles and PMS symptoms are: nutritional deficiency, stress, too much or too little exercise, insufficient sleep, and more.
Women with more severe PMS symptoms may be experiencing progesterone deficiency or estrogen dominance, which when untreated is associated with infertility and miscarriage. Severe PMS symptoms could also be indicating a woman is suffering from larger reproductive disorders such as endometriosis or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The good news is these conditions can be identified and treated if women chart their cycles and monitor their symptoms, which trained doctors can use to identify hormone imbalance. In order to do this, a woman must first stop taking hormonal birth control and learn to chart her cycle with a Fertility Awareness-Based Method; then she should take her charts to a doctor trained in Fertility Awareness-Based Methods to pinpoint the underlying health condition and tailor her medical treatment to her unique hormone levels.
Disruptive side effects are not simply part of being a woman. If something’s not right, it’s healthy to recognize it as your body’s means of asking you to pay attention. Seek out the care you need from a trained instructor and get started truly living your best life.