This is a bit of a ranty post, so I’ll start with the questions: do you feel that hormones affect you? What are your best tips for controlling or preventing the symptoms of PMS, pregnancy, or menopause?
I’ve already ranted about watches and cuffed pants, which kind of sets us up well for today’s rant: about hormones. You see, I’m weaning off breastfeeding, which means I’m kind of a psycho hose beast right now. And it’s gotten me thinking about how it’s really unfair for women, because throughout our lives we’re socked with major hormonal changes:
- Don’t get me started on my teenage years.
- Medications can affect hormones — I vividly remember talking with one girlfriend who was hesitant to start taking The Pill when we were studying for the bar because she knew she’d need a few months to adjust to it. Ditto for girls I knew who stayed on The Pill even if it had been many moons since their last boyfriend, just because they didn’t want to deal with withdrawal.
- Pregnancy can be crazy — I had a rough first trimester, and definitely felt like I hit a point around week 36 where I went off the rails. (My husband tells me that point was actually sometime around the 5 month mark.) Some women have fun with hormones right after they deliver the baby; some women have fun with hormones when they wean (and some women have fun both times!)…
- And then just when you think the pregnancy/Pill years are behind you — wham! we get to look forward to menopause. (Pictured: Originally uploaded to Flickr by emersonquinn.)
So: whine, whine; bitch, bitch. I think it’s a given that the hormones affect women differently, but I can’t help but think of that Laurie Anderson lyric about how they say women shouldn’t be the president “because we go crazy from time to time.” Sigh. So I thought today we could have an honest discussion about hormones and how they affect us — and more importantly, what you do to control them (beyond being aware)?
- Exercise. I swear, if I ever have a teenager who is as moody as I was, I’m signing her (or him) up for the track team. In general, I find that it’s very hard to hold onto stress if you’re getting a good workout — your shoulders release, you take a nice deep breath, and somehow you see through the fog.
- Calcium. I’ve long heard of calcium as a great way to help with general PMS symptoms, including cramps and mood swings. While I’ve usually heard calcium supplements touted as a benefit, in the past I’ve just tried to eat extra dairy when I’ve been suffering from PMS-related mood swings. A second glass of milk, another yogurt, perhaps even ice cream… call it the placebo effect, but I find it helps.
- Water. According to Hungry Girl, dehydration makes the crazy worse.
- Avoid refined sugar sources like soda and candy to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Certain foods have vitamins, minerals, or oils that may help boost your mood. Hungry Girl has listed “happy foods” including avocado, banana, Brazil nuts, asparagus, salmon, sweet potatoes, and chocolate, as well as OJ, oatmeal, turkey, and low fat cheese.
- Tea. Again, call it the placebo effect, but I’ve started getting into the benefits of different tea. My lactation consultant just recommended nettle tea for my current weaning hormones, and I’m going to give it a shot.
- Other supplements. I’ve read a lot of articles about how vitamin B6 helps with PMS symptoms, as does magnesium. Dr. Oz touts holy basil for anxiety, lemon balm for crankiness, passionflower for nervousness, and L-theanine for stress.
Ladies, do you feel extra crazy from time to time? What do you do to fight it, or prevent it altogether?