Q: What causes PMS?
Marla Ahlgrimm: A naturally occurring shift in hormones is the most logical cause. Specifically, fluctuations in progesterone and estrogen are likely responsible for the mood-related changes many women experience during PMS. Both of these hormones also influence the body’s output of serotonin, a hormone that, when deficient, can lead to irritability, insomnia, and food cravings.
Q: Is it possible to track PMS symptoms?
Marla Ahlgrimm: It is, but it may take some work. You should start by noting your symptoms. Pay attention for several months in a row to how you feel before and during your period. You also need to maintain a log of the foods you eat and activities you do during this time.
Q: Can I change my moodiness?
Marla Ahlgrimm: As long as your body has hormone fluctuations, you may experience moodiness. However, there are a few practical ways to offset irritability. Make a point to get enough sleep every night, even when you do not have PMS. Diet also plays a role in your mood so don’t neglect your nutritional needs. Exercise is an exceptional way to give your body a boost of the hormones that it needs to feel good. These hormones, known as endorphins, are responsible for a “runner’s high,” which is a sense of euphoria directly after exercise.
Q: Can birth control help?
Marla Ahlgrimm: If you find that diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough, talk to your doctor about hormone-based birth control. The pill may be able to eliminate some symptoms or to help you avoid PMS altogether.