Experiencing PMS from home during the current pandemic has affected menstrual cycles for women all around the world, in both better and worse ways. Women who are able to work remotely have more flexibility to deal with symptoms more easily by being able to rest and work in the comfort of their homes, making the process overall much easier and convenient. Although it may be easier to deal with PMS from home rather than from the workplace, stress factors caused by changes and uncertainties due to COVID-19 can be disrupting menstrual cycles and worsening PMS symptoms.
Dr Sarah Toler, doctor of nursing practice and science writer at female health app Clue, explains that “excess release of cortisol can suppress normal levels of reproductive hormones, potentially leading to abnormal ovulation, which can disrupt your cycle.” In other words, increased levels of cortisol (the hormone your body releases to respond to stress) negatively interferes with the duration and flow of menstrual cycles and may worsen PMS symptoms. Research also suggests that dysmenorrhea, or painful cramps during menstruation, can be worsened from high levels of stress and has been found to be more common for women working in jobs that are “low control, are insecure and have low coworker support”. During times of stress and difficulty people, such as what many people are currently experiencing due to COVID-19 , it is easy to see how many women can be experiencing more painful PMS symptoms and disrupted menstrual cycles. It is more important now than ever to address women’s health to ensure our bodies stay healthy and functioning during challenging times. What habits and practices can we try for PMS pain relief during quarantine and post-COVID-19?
WHAT HABITS AND FOODS HELP REDUCE PREMENSTRUAL (PMS) SYMPTOMS?
Every woman’s body is unique- there is no ‘one remedy cures all’ treatment that will work equally as well for every woman. However, there are some natural treatments and practices that are known to be effective in treating common PMS symptoms such as menstrual cramps, increased fatigue and stress, and bloating.
Decrease your caffeine intake – Caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, etc.) can worsen your PMS symptoms due to the effect caffeine has in constricting blood vessels in the uterus, triggering pain
Drink plenty of water- Drinking water can help flush out salt in your body and help your body return to a more neutral, less bloated state
Make sure to get plenty of Z’s every night – Health experts recommend for adults to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased irritability and aggravation of PMS symptoms.
Inhale, exhale, destress – PMS can be difficult enough already, but additional stress factors could worsen PMS symptoms. Mindful meditation and certain yoga poses can help alleviate pain and make those few days before menstruation easier
- Tune into your favorite playlist – Research by ECronicon suggests that Music Therapy (MT) can help reduce the severity of PMS symptoms and is increasingly being used as a form of pain relief. Playing your favorite tunes can make PMS easier and can help you unwind
- Track your cycle to better understand your body – tracking your cycle on apps such as Cure or and symptoms can help you understand your better better and observe what habits work for you to reduce certain symptoms
YOGA POSES FOR PMS PAIN RELIEF:
Many health experts recommend avoiding certain foods to reduce PMS symptoms. Here are some foods to ditch during PMS:
- Alcohol- Research has found that adults have been tending to drink more to cope with COVID-19 related stress, but it is important to avoid this during your menstrual cycle. Your blood pressure is already lower due to your menstrual cycle, so drinking can increase fatigue and make your flow heavier
- Spicy foods- Foods high in spice can leave you feeling even more bloated
- Foods High in Sugar- Sugar spikes can increase your energy and bring you crashing down shortly afterwards, worsening your fatigue from PMS
- Salty Foods or Foods with High Sodium- Sodium in preserved food increases water retention and causes bloating. If you can, try cooking more homemade food during your menstrual cycle to avoid processed foods high in sodium.
Experiencing PMS during COVID-19 has its benefits and challenges, but one undeniable benefit is having more time to learn and try new methods or remedies to treat PMS symptoms you never tried before. As women across the world face increased PMS symptoms due to heightened stress factors or experience changes in their menstrual cycles or bodies, whether related to COVID-19 or other challenges, let us not forget to be kind and patient with one another and rest in one certainty we have: we will all come out stronger, wiser, and more resourceful than ever before.