PMS. If I’m not looking after myself, I can plummet into a spiral of depression during PMS. It can make me pretty damn irritable, irrational, and exhausted. My main endo symptoms start picking up the pace, plaguing me with a body that feels like lead and eyes that refuse to stay open. My skin can get spotty, I bloat, and generally, it just feels like a not-great time to be me.
That was until I researched endometriosis, hormones, and menstrual cycles. I now know what makes my endometriosis worse, what causes excess hormone build-up in my system, and what triggers me during my premenstrual phase. I work with these to reduce my PMS symptoms and actually use this phase to my advantage. If I’ve thrown too many endo triggers into my diet, like lots of caffeine or sugar, my PMS is worse. If I haven’t exercised much, my fatigue is worse. And if I haven’t addressed issues that are bugging me, my mood is worse, too.
For generations, society has pushed us toward being constantly “on,” constantly striving. But there are huge benefits to having downtime. We all need it. It allows our bodies and minds to do maintenance work and return renewed and energized. And if we have endometriosis, it’s even more important that we give our bodies time to recharge. In fact, I believe that if those of us with endometriosis had more time to care for ourselves and take time out during our premenstrual and menstrual phases, the disease would be easier to manage over the month.
Women’s bodies follow a cyclic nature. Our hormones change throughout our cycle, and it’s no small change either. Hormones control our bodily functions, but humanity has a history of shrugging off hormones as a “women’s thing” that makes us a bit grumpy. But in fact, our hormones are essential to everyday functioning and health — in all stages.
During our premenstrual phase, levels of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone decrease. The withdrawal of these hormones causes those feelings of anxiety, negativity, and tearfulness. And though this may sound like a terrible flaw of nature, there are many ways to utilize these experiences. Because of these feelings, we’re much more analytical and critical. It’s a great time to do some self-reflection and work out what may be causing you to be feeling particularly emotional over a certain area of your life.
It’s also a good time for thinking about the things you want to change in your life, whether it’s your home, relationships, or work. These are often things that will crop up every month but are also the things you gloss over during ovulation because we’re generally easier-going during this time. The premenstrual phase can be a helpful time to stop and reflect, rest and recharge, to be ready to make changes and move forward into the next month.
Find time for you
I speak from a place of privilege, being self-employed (though I have a small income, so not that privileged), but I’ve found it’s crucial for me to slow down both at this time of the month and during my period. My periods are much less painful and easier to deal with when I’ve rested up a bit more beforehand. That includes moving some of my workdays around so I do more the following week and less just before my period. I usually only move one or two days, but that’s enough for me.
I’ve forced myself to go out on many occasions during this time and have ended up feeling exhausted for a week afterward. Some of you might really thrive socially during your period or around this time, but I find I need to slow things down and not make any plans at all.
Find exercise that feels good
Movement is good for the mind and body. I always feel better after doing some form of exercise, even when I’m on my period. When it comes to my premenstrual phase though, unless I’m feeling super energetic, I stick to gentle, restorative yoga. This is a much slower form of yoga that involves holding poses for longer. Practicing it is a lovely way of lifting my mood and cleansing my mind of negative thoughts. It’s also a good way to keep the stress hormone cortisol down, which can wreak havoc with endometriosis.
Keeping a journal and tracking thoughts and feelings throughout the month is a great way of noticing patterns in life. It also helps with making changes to those patterns. As time goes on, you may notice that area triggers your emotions less during your premenstrual phase.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.