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What is PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name given to the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that can occur in the two weeks before a woman's monthly period. It's also known as premenstrual tension (PMT).

What are the symptoms?

There are many different symptoms of PMS but typical examples are:

  • bloating

  • breast pain

  • mood swings

  • feeling irritable

  • loss of interest in sex

These symptoms usually improve when your period starts and disappear a few days afterwards.

Who is affected by PMS?

Nearly all women of childbearing age have some premenstrual symptoms but women in their late 20s to their early 40s are most likely to experience PMS.

Around 1 in every 20 women have symptoms that are severe enough to stop them living their normal lives. This is often the result of a more intense type of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

When to see your GP

You should see your GP if you're finding it difficult to deal with the symptoms of PMS. They can help determine if you have PMDD and may be able to offer you advice and treatment to manage the symptoms you're experiencing.

What causes PMS?

The exact cause of PMS isn't fully understood. However, it's thought to be linked to the changing levels of hormones in the body during a woman's menstrual cycle. The fact that PMS improves during pregnancy and after the menopause, when hormone levels are stable, supports this theory.

Certain lifestyle factors are also thought to aggravate the symptoms of PMS, including:

  • lack of exercise and being overweight

  • stress

  • a poor diet

How you can manage PMS symptoms

Certain lifestyle changes may help you manage PMS if your symptoms aren't severe. These include:

  • a healthy diet

  • regular exercise to improve your health and fitness

  • learning techniques to help relieve stress

  • regular sleep

  • psychological therapy or hormone medications (in more severe cases)

How reflexology can help PMS

Reflexology simply helps the body return to balance naturally, so a reflexology session may relieve stress and pain, help to alleviate hormone-related symptoms and improve sleep, mental outlook and energy. Many of our clients have reported reduced PMS issues after reflexology. Some clients reported an immediate improvement after just one session and others have needed multiple sessions to find relief. Every woman is different and each body reacts to reflexology in its own way. If you’re looking for a solution to PMS, then you might like to give reflexology a try!

Reflexology & PMS case study

'Significant decrease in premenstrual symptoms'

A controlled study carried out among a group of volunteers who had previously complained of distress from PMS symptoms showed a significant decrease in symptoms following reflexology treatment.

Taking place in California, the study ran over six months with the participants recording their symptoms, both physical and psychological, throughout. During the middle two months the volunteers were divided into two groups, each of these being treated by qualified reflexologists; however individuals in one group received eight 'genuine' reflexology treatments and the other group eight placebo treatments. Within the placebo group the therapists worked with areas not relevant to the treatment of this condition. Both groups believed that they were receiving genuine reflexology.

Studies have previously shown that deep relaxation can be of benefit in relieving symptoms of PMS and the placebo group reported that as well as having relaxed and enjoyed their treatments, they experienced a 19% decrease in symptoms. However a remarkable 46% reduction in symptoms was shown by the 'genuine' group, whose symptoms had been specifically treated.

The volunteers then continued to record their symptoms and in the two months following treatment the 'genuine' group maintained 41% reduction in symptoms, showing the continued beneficial effects of reflexology with PMS.

The following case study interview is given anonymously:

“How long had you been suffering from PMS before you started reflexology?

Really since the age of thirteen or so, although my parents put it down to my being a moody teenager. My periods were very painful and irregular too.

How did the PMS affect you?

I was ratty and had no patience for few days from about a week before my period, sometimes a bit tearful as well. I was probably a nightmare to live with!

What made you try reflexology?

A friend told me about it. I actually went for the period pain. I had been prescribed the pill for about six months but although it had helped to make me regular it didn't really help much with the pain, so when my friend recommended reflexology I decided to give it a go. It was my reflexologist who said that he may be able to help with the PMS.

How often did you have treatment?

To start with my reflexologist suggested I should try four treatments once a week and then review the situation, but Christmas holidays fell in the middle so my third treatment was actually five weeks after the first, but what surprised me was two pain free periods during that time. The PMS had improved as well, so I was really pleased with the result and went along with the plan the reflexologist gave me which was to have a treatment once a month.

So reflexology helped you?

I believe it did, otherwise I wouldn't have carried on, and apart from a couple of hiccups I have been fine ever since. I went to the same reflexologist for about a year until I moved, and he recommended someone where I now live.”

The study was carried out by the American Academy of Reflexology and the Division of Behavioural Medicine, California Graduate Institute, Los Angeles, California.

Learn how natural therapies may help ease your symptoms

If you would like to talk about helping the PMS symptoms you are experiencing, we’d be happy to chat so do get in touch.