Nourish - Reducing PMS and Menstrual Cramps (Part One)
Do you suffer from PMS and menstrual cramps? You are not alone!
Many of us experience the following unpleasantries during this cyclical hormonal change:
- breast tenderness
- weight gain
- water retention
- irregular periods
- mood swings
Did you know that up to 80% of women have significant cramping during their monthly cycle?
Many women report that they often miss a day of work each month due to PMS and cramps, and those that do go in say they feel like their productivity is compromised.
While menstrual cramps and PMS are incredibly common, they’re actually not normal. They are our body’s way of telling us that something is not working as well as it should be.
Pain and discomfort are not normal for our body. It is an indication that something inside is not right.
Think of PMS and cramps as warning mechanisms. Our body is sending us messages through pain to get our attention.
Now, like everything else, there is no magic pill and a cure will not happen overnight. For this reason, we must be patient and consistent and healing will follow through.
In order to have a healthy menstrual cycle, one has to have a healthy body.
An awful monthly cycle tells us that our hormones and reproductive system are not working optimally. Lifestyle and food choices work both ways: Make bad ones and our menstrual health may suffer; make good ones and our uncomfortable symptoms can improve.
What Are Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps are caused by the womb contracting to shed its lining.
If the muscles of the uterus, or womb contracts too strongly during your menstrual cycle, it can press against nearby blood vessels. As a result this briefly cuts off the supply of oxygen to the uterus. It’s this lack of oxygen that causes your pain and cramping.
What Causes PMS and Menstrual Cramps?
Oestrogen is one of a woman’s two main sex hormones; the other is progesterone. Oestrogen peaks in the first half of a woman’s menstrual cycle to trigger ovulation. Then progesterone peaks in the second half of the cycle and continues to rise if there is a pregnancy. Alternatively, it falls to trigger menstruation.
Many PMS symptoms are caused by a state of hormonal imbalance called “oestrogen dominance.”
Although oestrogen is a necessary hormone for our reproductive health, an excessive amount can cause problems. When the body’s oestrogen to progesterone balance is off, symptoms like heavy periods, cramping, breast tenderness, moodiness, and weight gain can result.
Our hectic lives stress out every system in our body, but especially our reproductive system. When we experience stress of any kind, our body responds by producing adrenaline. As a consequence of this, an overproduction of cortisol (aka belly fat hormone) can occur.
High levels of these stress hormones can lower the levels of progesterone (causing oestrogen dominance) and even affect our liver function. Ultimately this can contribute to both PMS and cramping in the second half of our cycle.
Poor sleeping habits
A lack of sleep can be a huge contributor to hormonal imbalances. During sleep, our body repairs itself and takes a good well-deserved rest.
If our sleeping hours are messed up, we can end up tired and snacking on sugary or caffeinated foods and beverages to wake up. These play havoc with our hormone balance, immune system, as well as the quality of your next sleep. And so the cycle repeats!
If you’re struggling to get a good shut-eye, have a read over this blog here on Top Tips for Naturally Improving Your Sleep.
A diet lacking in a plethora of fresh fruits and veggies, high-quality proteins, good fats and an abundance of fresh-water can lead to some major nutritional deficiencies. This can ultimately lead to some hormonal imbalances.
Alcohol, caffeine, sodas, sugar, and processed foods can all leach precious nutrients from our body’s and cause haywire in the hormonal department.
One nutrient, in particular, that is often robbed is magnesium. A mineral that is known for its ability to reduce menstrual cramps.
Other hormonal disrupters can be caused by:
- chemicals in our foods
- chemicals in body care products
- xenoestrogens leaching from plastic containers/water bottles (have a research into xenoestrogens)
- some tap waters
- non-organic dairy and meat products
- being over-weight
- living an inactive lifestyle
- even drinking too much coffee!
To help balance hormones naturally and get back to a pleasant monthly cycle, head over to part two. This blog covers 9 Natural Remedies For Reducing PMS and Menstrual Cramps.
If your symptoms are severe, I would advise to seek out a health professional who deals in female health, or consult your GP.
There could be more to it than just your diet and lifestyle choices, and it’s best to find out sooner rather than later.
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication