All women with circulating hormones experience change in their cycle as estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall. What this means is that we are not the same every day of the month – one week you may be more sensitive, one week you may be more creative, and another you may have lots of energy. I’ve written about this before, and strongly encourage you to track not only your cycle, but also your symptoms – physical and emotional to understand this better. With a healthy and balanced hormonal cycle, there will still be a difference in how you feel through your cycle, but hopefully one that you can embrace the positive points each week. For example, during the premenstrual week you may be more sensitive and less social, but perhaps you have excellent focus and attention to detail, or are more contemplative and introspective. We’re all different here!
When is it too much?
If you’ve noticed that your premenstrual week is so intense that it is interfering with your life, your relationships and your decisions, this is definitely something to address.
Common symptoms that can arise during this week include:
- feeling irritable or angry
- increased anxiety
- breast tenderness and swelling
- night sweats
- food cravings
- water retention
- the start of menstrual cramps
The first step in understanding how to treat your PMS symptoms is to test your hormones, in particular the balance between estrogen and progesterone towards the end of your cycle, or mid-luteal phase. (This is approximately day 22 in a 28 day cycle, or 7 days post-ovulation). Thyroid testing is also recommended, since thyroid hormone imbalance can make any hormone imbalance more exaggerated. And if you are in your 40’s, we may also test day 3 hormones (estradiol, FSH and LH) to determine if changes in PMS are part of perimenopause.