Hormones, Mood Swings and What You Can Do About Them

Since writing the post yesterday on what happens to women of reproductive age during any given month, I have given the topic a lot of thought. I came up with two things.

– It is absolutely amazing women are able to get as much done as we are.

– It is absolutely amazing, without the burden of hormone fluctuation, men don’t get more done.

We don’t have to be victims to the hormonal roller coaster. There are things we can do to help alleviate the symptoms and create better balance.

1. Medication – If your symptoms are very severe, your doctor can help. There are anti-depressants that offer much needed relief to some women. Oral contraceptives can also provide relief from the ups and downs for many people. The risk vs. benefit of being on the pill is something that needs to be discussed with a physician. But, don’t dismiss the idea just because you had a bad experience in the past. There are many new formulations that decrease the risk of side effects and provide many benefits, including PMS symptom relief. NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, are helpful in reducing symptoms.

2. Supplementation – I am about to tell you something fantastic — listen up. Consuming 1200mg of calcium a day can do wonders for your hormonal symptoms. You need calcium to protect against osteoporosis anyway — Bonus! Magnesium (300-500mg) has been shown to decrease junk food cravings. Vitamin E (600IU) can help with breast tenderness. A little extra vitamin B6 has also been shown to have some positive results in its ability to calm the symptoms of PMS.

3. Diet – A healthy diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates and low in fat, salt and sugar will prevent the exacerbation of symptoms. I have to add, although it pains me to say, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine will also help.

4. Lifestyle – Women who exercise routinely either have fewer hormonal symptoms or are less bothered by them. It is my experience that all you “get-up-and-goers” are much less likely to sit home and wallow with a box of Malomars a hot water bottle. This reminds me that I am completely out of ice cream.

5. Plan around it – While I discourage sitting back and letting your hormones take over, you may want to consider your cycle when planning your monthly activities. It is a real thing, difficult to ignore. Sometimes the path of least resistance is a nice, little path. Plan late nights, important meetings and closet cleaning during the first two weeks of your cycle. Plan movie nights, intimate times with friends and alone time at the end of your cycle. Life gets in the way of a plan, I know. When you can’t schedule around your mood, it is a good idea to simply acknowledge that your mood and energy level may be related to the time of the month. This will empower you to either fight through it and/or use it to your advantage.

Every once in a while, I will feel particularly emotional and sensitive. I am always tipped off by the fact that my smile, on these days, does not feel natural. It looks normal though, so the average person, including my husband, would have no idea that lurking behind that smile is a woman on the brink of a breakdown. I am no one to give marital advice, but I have found on these days, it is wise to provide he who loves you with a simple warning. Not only will he appreciate you carefully spelling it out for him (men have no ego when it comes to our menstruation), there is a good chance you might get a back rub thrown in.

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