First Aid Kit for Your PMS Problems during a Pandemic
Dr. Ammar Mahmoud, OB-GYN
Whether you cut your knee or twisted your ankle trying on shoes that were way too high, your first aid kit is always ready. But what about your PMS? This quick guide will tell you everything you need in your premenstrual first aid kit to ensure you’ll have a smooth flow. Especially during the pandemic.
What is pre-menstrual syndrome?
Some of you may have an app that estimates the date of your monthly menses. Others don’t need an app and can rely on bodily changes. These bodily changes that occur days or weeks before your period are known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These symptoms are caused by fluctuations of certain bodily hormones before menstruation. They may be physical or emotional and they often disappear once menstruation begins.
How does my body change closer to my period?
If you’ve been experiencing pre-menstrual changes then don’t get alarmed. It is pretty normal. In fact, 3 out of 4 women experience these symptoms of varying intensities. Many women experience changes in their moods, some abdominal pain and sometimes both.
Physical symptoms and signs
- Abdominal bloating
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Muscle or joint pain
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal itching
Emotional symptoms and signs
- Insomnia (unable to sleep)
- Anger and mood swings
- Food cravings
- Change in sexual moods
- Social withdrawal
All these changes are completely normal and may vary from person to person. Acne and breast tenderness are two of the most common complaints. Insomnia and fatigue sometimes go hand in hand and these can contribute to anger and mood swings.
If you have vaginal itching closer to menstruation, that is also normal. It is a sensitive time for your body. Your underwear constantly rubbing against your labia can cause some amount of discomfort which causes labial swelling. So, don’t get too alarmed if your vaginal lips appear larger! But, if you’ve always felt uncomfortable with the way they look and you don’t feel as sexy as you used to, then go ahead and schedule that vaginal rejuvenation surgery. If this pandemic has taught us anything it’s that life is short and you should do what makes you happy.
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What do I need in my PMS kit for this pandemic?
Life comes at you fast, one day you are shopping and going to movies and the next you are stuck inside trying not to get infected. But life’s external chaos does not put a pause on our body’s internal cycle. Pandemic or not, your period will have those awful accompanying premenstrual symptoms. So what can you do to alleviate them?
- Find your favorite workout.
Working out on a regular day can sometimes be a challenge. Working out while experiencing PMS can be even more difficult. But, working out while experiencing PMS during a pandemic, can seem like a monstrous task. Exercise increases chemicals in your brain called endorphins which can improve your mood.
During this pandemic, you may be unable to go to the gym or jogging outdoors. So, it’s best if you find an indoor work out that works for you. This could range from a high-intensity work out to some yoga. Whichever one you choose; the aerobic exercise will lift your mood and alleviate abdominal discomfort.
- Pay attention to your diet
This is especially hard because a hallmark of the pre-menstrual syndrome is cravings. And, not for the good stuff like broccoli or kale but usually for a bar of chocolate bigger than your fist. Needless to say, a healthy, balanced diet will result in a decrease in PMS and your overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Research has shown that an increase in calcium and vitamin D in your diet can prevent PMS. Calcium works to drastically reduce bloating, mood swings and those unhealthy cravings. Foods that are rich in calcium include yogurt, cheese, milk (dairy and soy milk), sardines and tuna. It is not always easy to maintain a perfectly balanced diet and so nutritionists recommend supplementary calcium tablets. So, the next time you go shopping be sure to pick up a bottle (or two!) of calcium supplements.
- Keep your cookie jar stocked
PMS cravings will have you feeling like a 6-year-old again. It’s okay to have a cheat day and indulge yourself sometimes. For this reason, you have to keep your cookie jar stacked. Whether it be cookies, chocolate or ice-cream, you don’t want to put your health at risk to fill these cravings. So, the next time you go grocery shopping, add these treasures to your list.
- Find your quiet place
Families are great and you love them with all your heart. But being stuck indoors with them is not what you’re accustomed to. It can get chaotic and loud. You must find your quiet place during this pandemic. PMS may cause you to be a little more irritable than usual and you don’t want to unnecessarily snap at anyone.
Your quiet place doesn’t have to be a designated room, but it is a state of mind when you are at peace. It can be achieved by morning meditation or drinking herbal teas. For some, it is lying in bed and watching your favorite TV show and for others, it’s baking. Having a quiet place is essential to keeping your cool in this pandemic.
- Purchase the necessary painkillers
During a pandemic, you will not be able to roam about as you please and you don’t want to be stuck in the downward-facing dog position the whole time. So, if all else fails, you may have to use painkillers as a last resort. They are at times necessary but should be used in moderation because of the adverse health effects. Pharmacies may eventually run out of basic supplies and so the next time you go shopping be sure to pick up a few painkillers to help you ride out the storm.
Every month it’s different, some months harder than the last. We can’t predict what next month will be like but we can prepare. The next time you go shopping be sure to keep PMS in mind and stock up on items that will help you through this difficult time. You don’t know when this pandemic will be over but what you do know is that every month you’ll keep flowing (unless you’re pregnant, then congrats!). Preparation is key!
About the author
Dr. Mahmoud is a board-eligible gynecologist and highly trained cosmetic surgeon specializing in cosmetic and functional gynecological medicine.
Over 75% of women have found relief by using NannoPad, a 2-in-1 organic sanitary pad developed to naturally help with odor-control and discomfort relief. Inspired by the nature of our body, backed by science. Learn more here.
NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare.