Many women experience symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (aka PMS).
Many women also believe that it is “normal” to have such symptoms. Although it is expected for there to be some degree of discomfort before and/or during a menstrual cycle, intense symptoms in the days or weeks before menses are not necessarily “normal.” PMS can be a sign of hormonal imbalance, and can be treated in a variety of ways with a Naturopathic Doctor. Often, PMS is caused by an increased level of estrogen. If you feel like your symptoms are interfering with your life, it may be time to treat the underlying cause of the PMS.
What are symptoms of PMS?
- Pain/cramping in the uterine or stomach area before and/or during menses
- Increased emotional lability (mood swings, depression, anxiety)
- Breast tenderness
- Increased/Decreased appetite, food cravings
Unfortunately, Medical Doctors do not have the tools that Naturopathic Doctors have when it comes to hormone balancing. Protocol in conventional medicine is to prescribe an oral contraceptive (aka birth control pill) in order to manage symptoms and regulate hormones. This can be a very quick and effective solution, however it is not without significant risks. Studies on women who have been on an oral contraceptive for several years have not been completed. Many women are on these medications for 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years or more. The safety of long-term oral contraceptive use and their effect on hormonal health and fertility is not well established. In addition, although an oral contraceptive is highly effective, it is artificially “fixing” the problem. A woman’s menstrual cycle becomes dependent and regulated by a pill rather than its own natural processes. That is why it often takes months before a woman can become regular again after coming off the pill. These medications essentially shut down the natural reproductive cycle. That being said, there are some situations in which an oral contraceptive may be necessary. But before resorting to this to regulate symptoms of PMS, explore alternative medical interventions with a Naturopathic Doctor.
What can a Naturopathic Doctor do?
- Hormonal testing via saliva or blood sample to identify if hormones are unbalanced
- Gather a thorough reproductive/menstrual history
- Fully assess the root cause of the PMS (ie. excess estrogen, weight gain, stress, hypo/hyperthyroidism)
- Clear excess estrogen through diet, botanicals, and/or supplementation
- Modulate hormones to bring them back in balance
- Provide guidance on how to naturally prevent and treat PMS symptoms
- Educate about the reproductive cycle and what is normal versus abnormal
Dr. Bianca Drennan, ND