Hey beauty babes! I'm back with some insight. This time we aren't focusing on beauty, but definitely still a topic pertaining to women. This post is specifically in regards to PMS and how the pandemic has affected it for most of us. I have been experiencing some crazy uncomfortable periods and knew it was abnormally uncomfortable and much longer than I was accustom to. I started asking my friends and my fiancé if they were experiencing the same things. While our specifics may have been a little different, the constant was that everyone noticed changes in their pre period symptoms as well as their period itself. I started doing a little research to see if there was more to this issue that was plaguing us all. Vogue did a write up on this exact topic, and I found tons of interviews from physicians across the country. OBGY Sherry Ross says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on women’s menstrual cycles, disrupting the normal hormonal balance and creating delayed, irregular, and heavy periods. When this hormonal wiring is significantly disrupted, the balance is upset, and our bodies become out of sync.” As a woman, we know that monitoring our periods is a great way to get insight into our overall body health. Usually something being off there, is a sign that things may be off somewhere else. “Typical pre-period symptoms can range from bloating, breast tenderness, water retention, fatigue, diarrhea, and irritability to full-blown premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms,” says Ross. “The majority of PMS symptoms, caused by normal cyclic hormonal changes—including bloating, weight gain, menstrual cramps, headaches, crying spells, depression, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue—quickly go away once your period begins,” she adds. COVID has created a huge increase in stress, depression, and emotional disturbance. Those changes have led to more intense and more long term pre period symptoms. Some people who never really experienced much PMS, are having symptoms. Also, those of us who are use to a little pre period craziness, we are experiencing heightened levels of symptoms. Frequency, flow, and length have all been affected due to increased stress with the pandemic.
Realizing just what is affected by stress and extreme life changes, made tons of sense, given our world's current state. I was relieved to know that I wasn't just crazy, and the research really validated my experiences. Stress disrupts the part of the brain that controls hormones, thus throwing hormone levels out of whack and causing changes to menstrual cycles. A big piece of acknowledging these issues, is being aware of your norms. If you don't know what your normal is, then it's harder to track or notice changes.
Dr. Ross has encouraged patients to keep a menstrual log: track cravings, pain levels, irritability, etc. Don't be afraid to ask your PCP or OB for additional help and support if you feel things are harder than you can manage. Make sure you are trying to stay active and recharge your mind. Always make sure you are drinking as much water as possible, at least eight to ten 12-ounce glasses, and eating water-based foods (such as berries, celery, and cucumber) to help minimize water retention and bloating. Foods that are “classic causes of bloating” include beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and foods high in sodium. Instead eat fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and brown rice, to prevent bloating. If you have a little extra coin to spend, check out the Ovira Pulse Therapy system ($139). You can plug it in and put the pads on your tummy and lower abdomen to help manage cramps. Another option is to grab a heating pad from your local drug store, or heat up a damp towel. Make sure to be mindful of your stressors. Sometimes we can't change those things because it's just a part of life, but make sure you are providing balance for your life, so you don't only experience the things that are stressful or overwhelming. On top of everything, be kind to yourself. Pandemic life is hard to manage, being a woman and managing a period on top of that is even more challenging. Don't feel alone, and remember to talk to someone. Whether it be your friends, family, or doctors, if you feel something is abnormal or off, speak up!