Every month, your hormones ebb and flow as you make your way through your cycle - and with this fluctuation can come a variety of changes in your mood and emotions. Sometimes you’ll feel happy and contented, and sometimes you’ll feel irritable, grumpy and downright miserable. Enter premenstrual syndrome.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term given to the specific symptoms you experience just before your period commences - like abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue and, of course, moodiness - though the specific timing of when symptoms commence and resolve varies between women.
For many women, PMS-related symptoms last anywhere from a day or so to several days and can be a mild inconvenience or no-big-deal. However, some women may experience symptoms for longer than this, though - and if you do, it’s a good idea to see your healthcare professional to ensure there’s not an underlying health condition to blame. Chronic PMS can impact your day-to-day life and be an emotional and physical drain, so it’s important to seek help if you’re not coping with your symptoms.
The reproductive hormones (or culprits) involved in influencing your mood and behaviour throughout your monthly cycle are:
- Oestrogen - regulates your menstrual cycle and primes your body for conception
- Progesterone - stimulates your uterus in preparation for pregnancy
- Testosterone - small amounts are needed to keep your body functions working normally
These hormone levels rise and fall during the two phases of your cycle: follicular, which typically occurs during the first half, and luteal, which occurs after ovulation. Your cycles typically range from 21 to 35 days in length. In an average 28-day cycle, or thereabouts, here’s what your mood and hormones are up to.
Week 1: Period
Day one of your cycle is the first day of menstruation, and this can last anywhere from a few days to seven days. You may be feeling tired, bloated and experience some cramps – but these symptoms usually subside as your period disappears – and you’ll start to feel better and more energised.
It’s also important to note that shifting hormones affect everyone in different ways. Some women may not be bothered at all by the rising and falling of hormones, while others are significantly impacted.
What to do if your mood is low throughout the cycle
If you’re feeling symptoms of PMS and moodiness throughout the month, speak to your healthcare professional. You may have an underlying health condition, be experiencing chronic stress or have other mood concerns . Stress and mild anxiety can cause your hormone levels to fluctuate and you may experience PMS-like symptoms more frequently throughout the month.
Lifestyle changes to help you through PMS and ease your symptoms:
- Feeling tired is another sign of PMS so you may need more sleep than normal. Try to get to bed early – aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise regularly. Each week, you could set a goal
- Avoid salt, sugary foods, caffeine, alcohol
- Find healthy ways to manage any stress. Talk to friends, exercise or write in a journal.
- To avoid becoming overly hungry, eat regular meals and healthy snacks across the day.
References available on request.