PMS + Birth Control- Is this Normal?

Most of us ladies suffer from some form of PMS, and it can really make for a long and dreadful week. As much as we are told that this is "normal", realistically, it is your body telling you to pay more attention to it. Here are some tips that may make that time of the month a little easier.

 First things first, it is extremely important to make sure that you are properly eliminating waste and toxins out of the body. Without regularity, hormones will just find their way back into the body. Pooping every second day is not regular! Making sure that you are going to the bathroom after each meal is going to make this process a lot easier, giving you much better results. Without regularity, change will be difficult and supplements will be expensive (if you have questions about this topic, feel free to send me a message). Once you are getting constant, healthy bowel movements each day, you should be ready to take on these suggestions:

Nutrition:

  • Eat healthy! Choose whole, nutritious foods over fast or greasy foods. Your body is relying on proper nutrient intake as it is already losing so many of its vitamins and minerals at this time. Choose foods like beans, lentils, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and chicken.
  • Cut out sugar, alcohol and caffeine as much as possible. Most women find that they crave worse foods during this time, and also rely on caffeine to give them the energy they’re lacking. In reality, this is going to dehydrate the body, and create much worse symptoms due to the inflammation that it causes.
  • Drink LOTS of water everyday, not just during your cycle. Constantly remind yourself to drink more water. It helps decrease water retention, promote natural flow & regularity and it just makes you feel so much better. Add in some freshly squeezed lemon and cucumbers to help balance the pH in the body and decrease the bloating.
  • Drink peppermint or red raspberry leaf tea

Supplements:

During this week, your body is losing a lot of its vital nutrients. Some common ones are B6 and magnesium. If you are someone that relies on Midol to get you through your period, I can guarantee you that all you really might need are some extra nutrients.

  • Magnesium is so important during this week, and also every day of your life! You know how you crave chocolate so much more during menstruation? Well, that could be because your magnesium levels are low. When the body has enough magnesium, chocolate cravings usually subside. If you suffer from heavy legs, insomnia, depression, anxiety, inflammation, bloating, headaches, back pain- magnesium will be your best friend. Magnesium gets depleted from the body so quickly, that it is arguably impossible to have proper magnesium levels at all time, never mind now.
    • If you’re a first time user- start with one capsule before bed. It can also be supplemented throughout the day, but it can make you a little sleepy, so save it for bedtime.
    • If you take magnesium every night, aim for at least 1-2 more capsules during this week if you are comfortable doing so. I personally take 600mg a night, and I will go up to 1000mg if I need to during this week. There is no toxicity level in relation to magnesium.
  • A B complex or multi-vitamin is also a key supplement. Many of the symptoms you experience while on your period, can be linked to the majority of nutrients that the body loses. B6 is specifically known for helping with PMS, water retention, carbohydrate metabolism, stress and so much more. Although B6 is important for PMS, the B’s work together as a family. If you take a single B on its own, overtime it can cause an imbalance towards the other B’s, which will also cause other symptoms to be present.
  • GLA is a potent source of omega 6, which is helpful for subsiding symptoms like muscle tension, inflammation, blood clots, and blood vessel dilation. Low levels of GLA are found in women that experience painful menstruation. If you suffer from headaches, bloating, nausea, depression, pain and vomiting, it would be a good idea to supplement with GLA. GLA can be found in hemp seed oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil, black current, as well as GLA on its own. GLA is also known to help with menstrual depression.
  • Vitamin E is very beneficial if you experience headaches, breast tenderness, fatigue, or insomnia.
  • Increase your super food intake: camu berry, maca, spirulina, and chlorophyll.
  • Zinc is important for overall hormonal function.
  • Stay away from Aspirin if you get heavy bleeding as it can encourage flow for up to 3 days longer.
  • ½ teaspoon or less of cinnamon will raise progesterone levels and lessen flow, this is a good way to naturally lower heavy periods.

Lifestyle:

  • EXERCISE, seriously. It is probably the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling bloated and drained, but it is also one of the best ways to get rid of water retention and cramping. It is also the best time for us ladies to push our bodies due to the hormonal changes in our body.
  • Buy organic tampons and pads. Conventional feminine products are highly GMO (genetically modified organisms) which actually cause you to have a worse period as your body is reacting to these chemicals. These are examples of xenostreogens. Think about how sensitive the area which you apply these to is.. it is the easiest way to get chemicals into the body. Tampons and pads are also bleached! Buy organic, non-GMO, unbleached, unscented hygiene products, it truly makes a difference. Expense wise, they are roughly the same price as the conventional ones, and even if you are spending a few more dollars, your body will thank you.
  • Speaking of xenoestrogens, these are also present in our beauty products. Drug store makeup is highly chemical rich, causing us to create hormonal imbalances. Xenoestrogens mimic estrogen in the body, which ultimately results in a disruption of the natural hormone balance in the body. It will also disrupt the endocrine system. Too many of these estrogens will throw off the progesterone and estrogen levels in the body, leaving you with estrogen dominance. Not only does this create an abnormal period, it also increases stress, depression, weight gain, and the risk of breast cancer and auto-immune disorders. Visit http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/#.WXPUhBgZOb9 to check out what your beauty products have in them, and how you can find cleaner options.
  • Along with this, do your best to stay away from plastic and especially, heating plastics. When you store fats, citrus or spices in plastic, it allows the plastic to eventually leech into the food, which is another example of a xenoestrogen. Choose glass when possible, and if you are going to heat your food, heat it in a glass tupperwear.
  • Stress LESS. You have all probably experienced that stress makes everything worse. Find ways to relieve your stress: Meditation, fresh air, reading a book, going into the sauna, going for a walk.

 Keep in mind that it takes about three months for your hormones to adjust to changes. As mentioned before, it is also really important to make sure that you are having healthy bowel movements each day to increase elimination. Your menstrual cycle might be worse or better some months because of what you were doing three months prior.

 Something to consider about birth control…           

If you are on birth control, you may want to research your prescription a little more to see what nutrients it may be depleted the body of and if this is the best route for you. The birth control pill has many side effects, and in many ways, holistic nutrition will do more than the birth control pill will, in term of balancing your hormones. The birth control pill is essentially a mega dose of synthetic estrogen, which will lead to an estrogen overload picture. Many women are put on the pill for acne, depression, heavy periods, missed periods… but it is extremely hard to find research out there that provides its safety or accuracy for these uses. Many women who take birth control pills also experience symptoms of acne or weight gain, so why is this happening? It isn’t normal, and that should be a hint that the pill may not be working with you, but against you, long-term.

Birth control pills increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks (many argue that it increases your rate up to 50%), hormonal diseases, blood clots and more. Birth control pills also deplete the body of zinc (along with many other nutrients) due to its high levels of copper, so if you are currently on the pill, make sure you are supplementing with zinc.

The pill also increases the risk of low unbound testosterone levels in women, even after discontinuing use. Some symptoms that this could include are low sex drive, vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, depression, low endurance, etc.

If you are currently on the pill, and thinking about getting off of it, speak to a holistic nutritionist to make sure you take the proper steps before discontinuing its use.

I hope that these tips help! If you have any questions, please feel free to message me and I will do my best to provide you with the best answers.

- Jass