Got PMS? Stress could be robbing your body of progesterone.
It’s the time of the month that so many women dread, the PMS days. PMS refers to a group of physical and emotional symptoms that some women experience a week before their menstrual period. For some women, premenstrual syndrome is just an annoyance, but it causes extreme suffering and can severely affect their lives for others.
PMS, especially when symptoms are extreme, is not normal or healthy. It is a sign of an imbalance in female hormones. For example, PMS symptoms may signal that chronic stress is causing a progesterone deficiency and/or imbalance in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone.
Symptoms of low progesterone include:
- Mood swings
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Crying easily
- Lack of concentration
- Frequent or irregular menstruation
- Low sex drive
Natural remedies for PMS
A good start is first to address the underlying causes of low progesterone. When chronic stress is present, progesterone levels take a beating. This is because every time you experience stress, your body responds with cortisol, an adrenal stress hormone that works to keep the body in balance.
But in today’s world, there are so many stressors, and we are stressed so frequently that the body’s demand for cortisol is always high. So the body makes cortisol from the materials needed to make reproductive hormones, including progesterone, to keep up with demand. This is called “pregnenolone steal.”
Factors that can cause chronic stress:
- Poor nutrition – Sugar and sweeteners, too many starchy foods (rice, pasta, bread, etc.), and excess caffeine
- Food intolerances or sensitivity (gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, grains, etc.)
- Gut problems (gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, etc.)
- Lack of sleep
- Chronic inflammation (joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes and disorders, brain fog, fatigue, etc.)
- Autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism)
- Constantly pushing yourself without breaks or enough rest
Restoring hormonal balance naturally:
You can stop the pregnenolone steal and reduce the symptoms of PMS so that your body can go back to making enough of its progesterone. In addition, an anti-inflammatory diet will ease the body’s burden of stress. You may also need to work to restore gut health, tame chronic inflammation or manage an autoimmune disease appropriately.
These approaches benefit from the guidance of an experienced practitioner like Dr. Bennett. Thirdly, the most crucial process is advanced hormone level testing which can give us the physiological timing, distribution, and production of these critical hormones. With this information in hand, a safe and measurable treatment plan can be customized for each patient in a Functional Medicine plan.
Nutrients to ease PMS:
Essential nutritional support can sometimes ease the symptoms of PMS. Are you getting enough omega-three fatty acids and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA)? You may find that supplementing with a high-quality emulsified fish oil or krill oil is helpful, especially if you add one of the GLAs—even primrose oil, borage oil, or black currant oil.
Serotonin is your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter. It can help alleviate symptoms when you’re premenstrual. Compounds that support serotonin activity include tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe. Other nutrients that may offer additional support include magnesium, B6, and vitamin D3. All supplements must be taken in the right amounts and sequence.
Ask my office for natural therapies or advanced functional medicine lab testing to pinpoint the issue, alleviate PMS, and support a healthy hormonal balance. Please do not go to a vitamin store; get the professional advice you deserve.
Important note: If you are taking an antidepressant, do NOT start a serotonin support regimen without the guidance of your doctor. Again, let’s get you the best advice we can.