You know that time of the month when a woman feels a little out of sorts? Perhaps a little irritable and/or irrational? She may even have physical symptoms like a headache, stomachache, bloating, fatigue or cramping to name a few.
What we’re talking about here is premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and it affects an estimated 3 out of 4 women every month. This is all part of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and without it, life itself could not be possible. It’s really a wonderful thing.
That being said, even something so wonderful can have its drawbacks. PMS can be a difficult and even debilitating thing to deal with.
For starters, what is PMS?
Well, according to Womenshealth.gov, PMS is the combination of symptoms that some women suffer about a week before their period starts, and will disappear during her period.
Simply put: It’s the storm before the tidal wave.
For many women, their monthly cycle is regular, and can be calendared on a 28-day cycle. For some, however, irregular periods make it very difficult to know when the storm will hit.
This is where measuring your heart rate variability daily can help.
How are PMS and HRV related?
PMS is an involuntary action in a woman’s body, and as such, it is regulated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
While this is and has been known for quite some time, researchers have wanted to know what exactly is happening to a woman’s heart rate variability during PMS itself. So, in a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, researchers found that the HRV in subjects with PMS significantly decreased compared to those who did not have PMS. Furthermore, subjects with the more severe case of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) had even lower HRV levels.
What does this mean?
A low HRV reading would indicate that the body is under a lot of stress, and therefore unable to handle more stress.
And, if you would ask any woman in a premenstrual state, she would likely agree with the findings.
How can this help women with PMS?
If you are a woman with an irregular menstrual cycle, taking daily HRV readings could help you know when your PMS symptoms will start, and in turn when your period will begin and the days you are most fertile.
And if you are a girl who cycles like clockwork, it’s always nice to have that extra reassurance that you’re not yelling at the cat for no reason; you’re just being a girl who needs a little less stress placed on her for a few days.
But, if you don’t like having a reason to yell at your cat, even if the PMS and HRV stars are all aligned, here are a few tips on how to reduce PMS symptoms.
1. Clean up your diet. Even though you might be craving chocolate cake, opt for the apple slices .. dipped in a little caramel to satisfy your sugar craving.
2. Get moving. Exercise is great for regulating hormones and your HRV. It doesn’t need to be major, just 30 minutes a day is fine.
3. Reduce stressors. Because your HRV is low, you will not react well to stress. This is a time to lighten your workload, or at the very least, make sure to take time for yourself to unwind so you can face the stressors with a little less growl in your purr.