Don’t Be A Martyr To Your Hormones

28 November 2005

Liverpool Daily Post

PMS drives one in 10 women to violence. Laura Davis addresses the issue

Men often joke about their usually serene wives turning into demented harpies when the “time of the month” draws near.

But for women experiencing a personality shift and apparently irrational surges of aggression, PMS is no laughing matter.

The problem affects up to 80% of women of child bearing age, particularly those aged 30 to 45, with irritability, tension, aggression, anxiety or depression causing discomfort and disruption to sufferers’ daily lives for several days each month.

In extreme cases, it can even cause violence. A new study has revealed that one in 10 women admit to being physically violent when the condition strikes, throwing objects at their partner in a sudden rush of anger.

“Since adolescence, I had problems with depression and mood swings but it had never been diagnosed as PMS,” says Ai, 39, who found herself becoming irrationally irritable and anxious as her period drew near.

After her GP prescribed hormone replacement therapy she found her symptoms worsen.

“I got to rock bottom. I felt quite suicidal, deeply depressed and anxious and I kept crying and crying but I couldn’t explain why. It was just something that was happening to me.

“It caused problems for my relationship too because my boyfriend, who is now my husband, couldn’t understand what was going on.

“It was really hard to live life that way.”

Like Ali, many women feel helpless when struck down by PMS but experts claim there is much that sufferers can do to improve their situation.

Making subtle nutritional and lifestyle changes, such as cutting down on caffeine and alcohol, taking regular exercise, eating the right foods and taking a supplement such as Evening Primrose Oil can all make a difference.

Ali, who lives in Heswall, found homeopathic treatments helped turn her life around.

“I first went six years ago and, after about six months, I was basically cured of PMS. It totally changed my life. I’m now studying to be a homeopath myself so I can do the same for other people,” she says.

Homeopath Hilary Hampel, who runs a clinic in Crosby, says the treatment works by looking at the woman as a whole, not just at how she feels for a few days a month.

“Symptoms vary from woman to woman but the main things seem to be irritation, weepiness, weight gain, food cravings…

“It can be almost like a little monster takes over. You cannot actually stop yourself feeling angry and afterwards women feel guilty because they think it’s their fault.

“They ask themselves ‘how could I be this person?’

“That’s because they think there’s something wrong with them as individuals, rather than that there’s something happening to them,” she explains.

The initial session lasts about an hour with the homeopath discussing symptoms and elements of the rest of the woman’s life.

Then a treatment programme is drawn up.

There is even a remedy containing chocolate that can be used to help food cravings.

“Remedies are safe to use during pregnancy and can help with the hormone changes if they are taken before conception,” says Hilary.

“They can also help make the menopause easier for women if they are taken before it begins.”

Good news for sufferers is that the new study, which questioned 1000 men and 1000 women and was commissioned by organic Evening Primrose Oil manufacturer Efamol, found most men are sympathetic to the condition.

Just 2% believed women use PMS to get their own way, while one in 10 admitted to making themselves scarce when symptoms show.

Further details on homeopathic treatments from Hilary Hampel on 0151 4942277 or visit www.homeopathliverpool.co.uk

How to cope with PMS

Keep a diary to record physical and emotional symptoms and look at what makes you feel irritable. If you feel under a lot of stress generally you may find you feel worse at certain times in your cycle. It helps to pre-empt these.

Make time for yourself when you know PMS is likely to strike to give yourself a chance to relax.

Try de-stressing activities such as yoga, meditation, listening to music or reading.

Join a support group or talk to your GP about the problem.

Start an exercise routine to help counteract fluid retention and encourage the release of endorphins, the body’s “happy” chemicals.

For a free guide to reducing the symptoms of PMS naturally by nutritionalist Suzannah Olivier, including practical advice on diet, exercise and relaxation techniques, call the Efamol helpline on 0203 8651739.

Eat a balanced diet and consider using supplements like evening primrose oil.

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