I am looking for practical (and preferably natural) solutions for emotional instability and insecurity during ovulation and pre-menstruation.
May 17, 2011 2:49 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for practical (and preferably natural) solutions for emotional instability and insecurity during ovulation and pre-menstruation.

I didn't even realize it was mid-cycle for me until I thought to check the calendar after having several emotional meltdowns.

I have had a really good past two weeks. I've also been taking 5-htp every day for about a month. When I am feeling good, I am rational, calm, thoughtful, and feel pretty strong and resilient.

But, during ovulation and the two weeks after (and even a few days after I start my period), I experience:

-body insecurity regarding my relationship
-inability to let things go (can't focus on anything else until things are resolved)
-mild rage

These things are very painful to experience and I really don't want to feel like this...

If it means running for an hour every day, or taking vitamins, I'll do it. What has worked for you?
posted by DeltaForce to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Not the easiest or most fun solution, but definitely exercise. If you have access to a pool, I would recommend swimming, especially. Running is good but I've had very bad experiences trying to do this with severe cramps (which you didn't mention but I'll assume is a factor). The swimming is nice because you get the cardio and it's a pretty solitary thing--I've been irritable on the treadmill before to the point of wanting to grab the cell phone of the girl gabbing away next to me and chuck it across the room. Also, something about water is very soothing and I find it to be good for state of mind.
posted by lovableiago at 3:05 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know that exercise always helps the physical pains of menstruation (for myself, at least), but you are experiencing issues far beyond some cramps and bloating. Have you talked to your ob/gyn? I am thinking you might need some medication to regulate your hormones, but I don't know what those meds would be.
posted by AlliKat75 at 3:07 PM on May 17, 2011

I'm with you on this problem. I'll third the suggestion of exercise. Also, if you consume much caffeine or sugar, I'd cut way down on those, at least when you're in the throes of hormonal upheaval. Eating a lot of vegetables, meditating and taking time to be alone and relax--all pretty standard issue things, but they help me a lot. Of course, there are still those times when I feel fat, ugly and enraged. The best I can do at times like these is to try to remember that the feeling is temporary, grit my teeth, and get through it without creating any major drama.
posted by indognito at 3:14 PM on May 17, 2011

Not easy, but cutting out coffee completely. Tea seems to be fine, but for me, coffee = meltdowns at period time. Epic, epic meltdowns. No coffee = calm, only notice it's period time when I start to bleed.
posted by t0astie at 3:20 PM on May 17, 2011

This was me about 15 years ago. For me, I had to get on hormones. I have an estrogen patch (estrace), then add progesterone days 15-25. Made an incredible difference.
posted by la petite marie at 3:50 PM on May 17, 2011

Primrose oil is thought to help ease PMS symptoms in some women. My sister was looking into trying it a couple of months ago, but not sure if it's helped (or not) as of yet. The Google brings up mixed experiences.
posted by raztaj at 3:58 PM on May 17, 2011

So this really goes against my search for a natural solution, but as an aside, would it be feasible to use something like Vicodin or Percocet to help during the meltdowns without it turning into something dangerous? When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, I noticed the Percocet made me feel very serene, and I am wondering if it is a bad idea to take just to get me through the worst of it?
posted by DeltaForce at 4:15 PM on May 17, 2011

Those are painkillers -- you don't want painkillers. You might want some temporary anti-anxiety drug or something, or even anti-depressants, which a doctor can prescribe for PMS use specifically.

But if you wanted to try something natural, try a low carb diet during and after. I swear this has helped me this month, but it doesn't really make sense to me and Googling low carb or sugar+PMS is a hell journey. In any case, I wanted to eat more protein and wound up by definition eating fewer carbohydrates, which always seemed to accompany a case of the crazeees but I could never really sort out cause and effect.

I feel better though -- I absolutely feel more clear. And I have batshit hormones, like it sounds like you're describing. It's the pits.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:29 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have problems with this too. Low/lower carb has helped me greatly, as well as cutting back on caffeine.

If this isn't feasible for you, another thing that has worked in the past for me is motherwort tincture. Using taken in tea or a cup of hot water. I'm willing to believe it's only a placebo effect, but it's really helped calm the anxiety and rage.
posted by Knicke at 4:41 PM on May 17, 2011

Try fish oil tablets. Couldn't hurt, might help. Also exercise and making sure you are hydrated are good as well.

Also, if you are a woman of a certain age, if you know what I mean, you can research more natural hormones. My friend takes them and swears by them-she goes to a compounding pharmacy. But yes, you'd need a prescription for that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:11 PM on May 17, 2011

Evening primrose oil capsules make a huge difference for me.
posted by amro at 5:36 PM on May 17, 2011

I'm in your boat. Holy cats, if uncontrolled I turn completely irrational, even in the face of evidence that I'm being completely irrational. Here's what's worked for me:

2000mg calcium
2500mg vitamin D
2400mg omega-3 oils (currently fish)
a b-complex every other day

Here's a link to an article about PMS and calcium/vitamin D.

I also try and stay away from full-fat dairy and fried foods when I start getting my grump on, which helps. Exercise has also helped, but I'll admit I'm not much of an exerciser. Most months I have few symptoms, and if I do have them they are most definitely to a much lesser degree than if I just did nothing. The only thing this "stack" doesn't help very much is cramps, but I'll trade cramps over a screaming match with my husband over whether he likes mushrooms or not any day!
posted by kittyloop at 5:48 PM on May 17, 2011

st johns wort but not if you're on birth control
posted by nile_red at 6:37 PM on May 17, 2011

I found St Johns Wort very helpful for the moodswings associated with PMT, also seemed to help me get through winter without such severe SAD as had bothered me in previous winters too. I also take flaxseed oil, calcium and vitamin D as mentioned by others. Be careful St Johns Wort though and check with your Doc before taking as it can interact with other drugs.
posted by wwax at 7:09 PM on May 17, 2011

SSRI's solved this problem for me, amazingly well. I know you asked for natural solutions, but it is worth considering talking to a doctor about antidepressants; if you have insurance it can be cheaper as well as safer than trying out things like 5-htp and St. John's Wort.
posted by beandip at 7:56 PM on May 17, 2011

This is the book that set me on the no coffee path originally: No More PMS!: Beat Pre-Menstrual Syndrome with the medically proven Women's Nutritional Advisory Service Programme. Full of really good information - if I remember rightly it also recommended some supplements and a diet low in refined sugar and white flour, but cutting out coffee was enough to do it for me. YMMV obviously.
posted by t0astie at 8:13 PM on May 17, 2011

I tried everything people suggest above and everything else I could find. I read every book, every article, you name it. Nothing worked for me. I'm a vegetarian. I run 40 miles per week. I also walk an additional 3 miles per day. I also do strength training exercises at home. I don't drink coffee. I was vegan for 3 years at one point. I have tried every supplement, every idea, everything. I tried Premsyn PMS/Pamprin Multi-Symptom pills and they were a miracle for me. Pyrilamine is an antihistamine, and is the ingredient in these pills that seems to have this desired effect. These do contain acetaminophen so do not combine them with other things that have acetaminophen. They also have a diuretic. I think the dose recommended is 1-2 pills however many times a day, but 2 make me sleepy so I just take one pill and I only take 3 per day total.

If you try everything else and nothing works, give these a whirl.

Also, here is a useful article from the YOU Docs. I take some of what they recommend here but did not notice any difference since I started those things after I discovered the other pills. It's the fourth "Q" down. http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2009/07/you_docs_pecans_are_no_substit.html Most of what they say has been mentioned above already.

Also, with antidepressants, there is one kind that you can take only when you need it when it comes to PMS. You do not have to take it all the time. I forget which one and I forget why, but I think it had something to do with whatever it was blocking was not something that needed to be blocked all the time, just when it was happening. I have not gone this route since this OTC pills work for me.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 9:14 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Kudos on you for charting and noticing the timing!

The term fore severe PMS like this is PMDD -- google that and you'll find much more info, including about medical treatment (frequently SSRIs but also some hormonal stuff) and presumably other natural stuff to try.

Good luck!
posted by wyzewoman at 4:34 AM on May 18, 2011

Er, fore -> for. Silly iPhone.
posted by wyzewoman at 4:35 AM on May 18, 2011

No, don't do Vicodin. It's trivially easy to become dependent on it - you won't necessarily become a frothing-at-the-mouth drug addict type, but probably a cant-sleep-without-it type.

Anyway, I'm in the throes of this now, so I totally, completely feel your pain. Meditation helps the most with my anxiety and insecurity; taking a walk helps me with that Imma-stab-you-in-the-face-with-a-fork feeling. If you have cats or dogs, cuddle with them. If you don't, borrow one or go to the zoo. I'm serious. There's something about animals that can be quite calming.

I also highly recommend the books When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron and The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts. Much of it is really practical and really relevant to feeling crappy, but they are based on Buddhist concepts. Just skip over the spiritual stuff if it doesn't resonate with you.
posted by desjardins at 8:31 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

My OB/GYN said try B12 and fish oil, stay away from caffiene, exercise.

For me, nothing worked.

I had to go on Prozac. What you seem to be describing is some pretty heafty PMDD. It significantly helped me. I know you want natural. Try the above. If it doesn't get better, consider a med. Otherwise if you're ok with birth control, supposedly Yaz helps. Never tried it.
posted by stormpooper at 10:37 AM on June 2, 2011

Another thing you can do for PMDD is eat more greens. No, more greens than that. No really, more greens. For exercise, ride a bike from A to B instead of driving. Bicycling will also help with your lost keys problem because you can always throw your wallet, keys, and phone in your helmet when they aren't on your bike and in a small bike basket when you're riding. Get in touch if you need information on how to successfully switch to bicycling.

From what I have read, you can deal with PMDD by:

Limit the following

- alcohol
- caffeine
- refined sugar
- salt

Increase the following

+ Eat your greens
+ Exercise

It sounds straightforward, but there you have it. Si se puede!
posted by aniola at 9:55 PM on May 10, 2012

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