Periods: every woman has them but not every woman knows how to deal with the symptoms that accompany them. Ninety percent of women suffer from PMS with symptoms varying widely from anxiety to body dysmorphia. Periods affect the body in many physical ways such as bloating, breast pain, and acne, which can really affect a woman's mental health. For 1 in 20 PMS sufferers, these psychological symptoms are so severe they interfere with everyday life and can lead to depression. This is common for sufferers of gynaecological-related diseases such as endometriosis and adenomyosis, where the symptoms of periods cause debilitating pain and subsequently can cause depression and anxiety. We have rounded up some of the ways your period may be affecting your mental health, as well as suggesting some changes you can make to help reduce these symptoms.
Periods cause many changes in the levels of hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol, leading to increased feelings of anxiousness during PMS. When cortisol levels increase, the heart rate increases and anxiety levels shoot up. Anxiety caused by PMS can make women feel overwhelmed, and it is important to have strategies and ways of dealing with this if it does arise. 1Rebel trainer Zoe Touamazors, speaking to Betty, highlights that exercise has an "incredible psychological power". "Feeling overly bloated and generally a bit down or frustrated with life" is common during your period. Exercise during your period not only produces endorphins to help combat these symptoms but will help to improve your heart rate and reduce stress levels, directly improving anxious moods. Zoe says that "finding an exercise you enjoy can help assist motivation and will leave you feeling accomplished and confident", and that these can help assist in managing anxiety brought on by PMS.
Tiredness and fatigue are some of the most common PMS symptoms due to hormonal changes, water retention, bloating, and irregular sleep patterns. This causes many women to opt to stay in rather than facing certain social situations, and this inevitably makes some women experience social isolation, particularly if they have underlying gynaecological conditions with severe symptoms. We've all had FOMO when we've chosen to stay in rather than go out with friends, but why not suggest a movie night with your gal pals, order a pizza, and catch up on some much-needed rest instead of missing out completely?
Your body goes though a lot during a period, from bloating to cramps and, for some women, next-level mood swings. This can leave you feeling emotionally and physically drained and you might find yourself craving that bottle of wine. However good that glass of wine tastes, it will probably end up making you feel worse, increasing the likelihood of breast tenderness and lowered blood sugar levels, causing irritability, headaches, and anxiety. Herbal teas are often just as comforting with properties that will benefit your health. Try chamomile tea for calming properties, cinnamon for anti-inflammatory properties assisting period pains, or ginger tea to help ease cramps.
Who doesn't change what they wear or avoid a bikini shopping trip when they are on their period? Periods increase bloating and water retention, so you may feel more uncomfortable on your period than an average day. Some women perceive their body size as larger than normal during their period, leaving many young women embarrassed and uncomfortable with their bodies. This can cause stress and low moods for some women, affecting their mental well-being during the time of the month. Body-positive influencers have taken to social platforms to share their experiences with the negative side effects that come with periods to show that it is normal and temporary. Women's bodies cope in different ways and self-care is as important as taking care of your physical symptoms. Remember that what you're feeling is normal, but that any weight gain or body changes during your period are completely temporary.
Join the conversation
There is no better way to learn more and help reduce symptoms than being educated and talking to others about your issues. Betty is helping to make girls and women feel more comfortable around the discussion surrounding periods and educating girls on how aspects of their cycle can affect their lives. It provides a space for discussion including body positivity, empowerment, mental health, and everything a girl needs to know about periods but doesn't want to ask. Betty has a monthly subscription service that provides girls with everything they need to survive a period happily. As well as this, apps such as Clue help women prepare for PMS symptoms by tracking cravings, bleeding, fertility, pain, mood, and other aspects during your cycle that may be affected. Periods shouldn't be painful or cause chronic depression. If you experience this, seek help from a medical profession as you may have an underlying condition causing symptoms.
Product Credit: Dear Bowie robe, Stella McCartney PJ set