How To Make PMS Not Suck (Or At Least Make It Tolerable)

How To Make PMS Not Suck (Quite As Much)

She’s a little under the weather
LumiNola/Getty

While listening to the radio last week, I heard my favorite morning show hosts talking about PMS. They were talking about a survey that had polled women and asked them about the things they apologize for while having PMS. The number one thing? Being irritable and moody. 

Other things that made the list were being emotional, their appetite and energy levels, and for leaving pads and tampons in the trash.

First of all, I have so much to say about this. Women (and anyone with a uterus and vagina) shouldn’t be apologizing for any of this shit, because we don’t have a choice. Our bodies go through all the hormone shifts whether we like it or not. Also, the fact that we bleed from our crotch for about a week every month is no small task — so I say we stop apologizing for being moody, eating, and having to discard the very things that keep us from getting blood all over our clothes.

I’d be willing to bet that if men menstruated, there’d be no apology … and special period pods they’d retreat to where they’d have an array of foods to eat and as much privacy as they wanted.

However, this isn’t how it works. Women and people with a vagina just have to deal with this and are expected to do all daily tasks with a smile on their face.

It happens every month: you wake up one day and you feel like you want to be left alone with all your favorite snacks, everything bothers you, and just plain feel like you’ve been dragged through a pile of dog turds.

I’ve been living this since I was about eleven and started my period. I’ve had stages when I’d throw up and be so bloated my body couldn’t move. Sleeping and eating seem to be the only things that feel right to me during PMS, and now I’m watching my teenage daughter struggle with severe premenstrual symptoms.

We don’t want to feel like crap during, or before, our periods. If it were up to us, we’d like to feel like our normal selves and not have to deal with the bullshit that makes bleeding from our vaginas even harder to deal with.

So, how can we do that? Scary Mommy talked with Tara Scott, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Founder of Revitalize Medical Group, via email. 

Scott explained that PMS is often caused by an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. “Progesterone is supposed to peak a week prior to your period and has antidepressant and diuretic activity in your body,” she says.

These levels, along with estrogen levels, start to lower if you don’t conceive after ovulation. We have these low levels of hormones to blame for things like being tired, hungry, feeling irritable, acne, and experiencing cramps.

We can all agree there’s nothing easy about experiencing one of these symptoms, much less all of them. But what can we do about it?

Scott recommends certain foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage) and dark berries. Also, cutting back on sugar and caffeine can make a difference. “These can foster estrogen detoxification. And believe it or not, dark chocolate could also help,” she says. Now it all makes sense.

Scott adds, “Having some sunflower seeds (1 tsp) and sesame seeds (1 tsp) daily can help during that time.”

Even though we feel bloated and like a walking water balloon, Scott says it’s so important to stay hydrated and that we should be drinking half of our body weight in ounces every single day. 

Exercise can be a game-changer too. It can be almost anything, “Walking, running, HIIT, or Yoga can all help decrease PMS symptoms,” says Scott. 

Taking daily supplements is also a good idea. Scott suggests Magnesium taurate, Fish oil, Vitamin D, Evening primrose oil, and Calcium Citrate.

Sleep is another piece to feeling better during this time. “It’s important to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night,” reports Scott.

Some other tips are staying away from alcohol and extra stress when you can, and realizing it’s okay to rest more during this time, so stop and relax if you need to.

If your cramps are unmanageable, contact your doctor about prescribing you a medication that can help.

Unfortunately, we may not be able to alleviate these symptoms altogether, but doing these things throughout the month — even when we aren’t on the PMS train — may help quite a bit.

For me, exercising has helped my symptoms a significant amount and it’s really hard for me to stay away from salt, but I’ve noticed when I indulge too much, I blow up and get even more irritable.

And while I’m willing to do these things so I feel better, I’ll still never apologize to anyone for having my period. It’s 2021, and time women stop being sorry for things their body is doing.