10 Lifestyle Habits Which Could Be Making Your PMS Worse

10 Lifestyle Habits Which Could Be Making Your PMS Worse

Hormonal changes occur during your menstrual cycle.

Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) occurs during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle (from the time ovulation occurs to your period). During this period, about 75% of women experience various physical issues that describe PMS.


In worst case scenarios, some women even experience pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), an extreme version of PMS. The emotional and physical changes that makeup PMS include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Cramping
  • Headaches 
  • Sleeping issues
  • Emotional issues such as period brain fog, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, sadness, and low self-esteem.
  • General fatigue
  • Digestive issues
  • Weight gain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Backaches 

Mood-related symptoms such as unhappy and grouchy feelings are the most common among women. This symptom is so common that those around you are likely to know that your periods are forthcoming. 


PMS is so common that most women consider it a normal aspect of having periods. Approximately 8%-20% of women experience moderate-severe PMS symptoms a week or a couple of weeks prior to the onset of their period.

The causes of PMS aren’t well known, but brain chemicals and hormonal changes have been attributed to the conditions. Furthermore, what you drink and eat can affect your PMS. A diet can contribute to PMS development or even worsen the symptoms’ severity. 

Certain lifestyle choices work to worsen your monthly pains if they coincide with your post-ovulation period. However, it doesn’t have to be that way because you can easily control your period pains. Exercise and various diets can ease the symptoms of PMS.

Here’re a few lifestyle habits which could be worsening your PMS than it should be and what you can do to find help:

Lack of quality sleep

Failure to get sufficient quality sleep can worsen PMS symptoms. Anxiety and stress are some factors that may cause sleep deprivation. 

During sleep, your body produces specific hormones that stabilize your health and general wellbeing. 

Sleep deprivation leads to irritability, period brain fog and fatigue, factors that further worsen your premenstrual symptoms. In turn, menstrual cramps or worse PMS symptoms lead to even poorer quality sleep.

Work on getting good sleep to ease your PMS symptoms. Exercise and meditation can help you fight anxiety and stress for a better night’s sleep.

Consumption of alcohol

Excessive consumption of alcohol heightens the level of hormones responsible for disrupting estrogen. This disruption causes bloating, dehydration, and water retention, worsening your PMS symptoms.

Avoid excessive alcohol consumption to make your PMS symptoms tolerable. Women are advised to drink a glass of wine per day to gain from your drinking instead of causing yourself more harm.

Poor nutrition – vitamin D deficiency

Low levels of vitamin D or its deficiency in your body can also worsen your PMS.

Women with low levels of vitamin D, according to a study published in the Nutrition and Dietetics Academy Journal, are prone to specific extreme PMS symptoms. They include fatigue, cramps, confusion, and anxiety.

Other studies have found that vitamin D supplements can ease emotions and pains linked to PMS such as painful cramps.

Calcium supports proper heart and muscles contraction. And, vitamin D helps with calcium absorption into the bloodstream. With proper contractions, more blood flows to various tissues and organs in your body, in turn easing muscle fatigue, cramping, and fatigue.

Eat foods rich in vitamin D or take supplements to increase your intake of this vitamin.

Poor hygiene habits – Failure to change your tampons frequently 

Wearing a single pad for long compromises your hygiene. Bacterial buildup on the tampons or sanitary pads can cause an infection. What’s more, pads and tampons are made with certain chemicals that can easily affect your hormones and thus PMS.

Change your tampons and pads often to improve your hygiene. Alternatively, use period panties to avoid the chemicals in tampons and pads that can affect your hormones due to prolonged use or exposure. 

What’s more, period panties are washable for reuse, making them eco-friendly and sustainable. 

Overeating eating foods linked to bloating

Hormonal fluctuations causes diarrhea, bloating and constipation a week or couple of weeks prior to your period. Consuming foods linked to bloating is bound to worsen these symptoms. 

Weight gain, water retention and bloating cause moodiness in most women. This means that consuming foods linked to bloating is likely to worsen your emotional PMS symptoms. 

Sugary drinks, fried foods, fruits, and fast foods are likely to worsen PMS symptoms

About a couple of weeks to your menses, avoid bloating-causing foods such as red meat, dairy, green veggies, beans, foods rich in sodium, and fruits such as peaches, apples and pears. When you avoid these foods closer to your period, you minimize your risk for constipation, bloating and diarrhea.

Limit caffeine intake

Excess consumption of caffeine can worsen PMS symptoms. 

As a vasoconstrictor, caffeine reduces blood flow to your body organs. When less blood gets to your heart, you experience increased heart rate and anxiety. And, constricted blood vessels in the GI tract may cause bloating. 

Limit your intake of caffeine through drinks such as coffee and tea to minimize its harmful side effects. Instead of drinking coffee to relax or distress, consume foods that help fight anxiety and stress. You can also exercise to distress.


The tobacco in cigarettes affects your hormone levels, further worsening PMS symptoms. Even just a cigarette or two to distress can exacerbate PMS.

Quit smoking or avoid it a couple of weeks to your period to ease symptoms of PMS.

Undiagnosed Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Women, according to a study, reported cramps, headaches and emotional sensitivity about a couple of weeks to their period even before being diagnosed with STIs such as herpes (or HPV) and chlamydia.

Your body’s natural immune response and inflammatory reaction from an undiagnosed STI can heighten your emotions and worsen period pain.

STIs that go untreated can spread and lead to permanent damage long-term, including infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and increased risk of spreading it to others. It can also heighten the already record-breaking rates of STIs.

Early detection of STIs is important to prevent such consequences. If you experience extreme emotional volatility and discomfort anytime during your menstrual cycle for unexplainable reasons, go for STI tests to rule them out.

After all, most people diagnosed with STIs have shown no serious signs before diagnosis.


Studies reveal that highly stressed women are thrice more likely to experience worse symptoms of PMS during the luteal phase and twice more painful cramps during menstrual period. 

Stress triggers anxiety, depression, weight gain or weight loss, and period brain fog. Together with the common symptoms of stress, your PMS symptoms can become intolerable. 

Moreover, people under stress perceive pain differently. This means that emotional and physical pains are more likely to disturb you. 

Meditate and exercise to relieve yourself of stress and PMS symptoms. 

Anxiety or depression

Anxiety and depression point to imbalanced hormones in your system. Imbalanced hormones can worsen PMS, causing PMDD.

A stressful situation before your period can leave you feeling anxious and depressed with uncontrollable emotional feelings already part of PMS. Emotional fragility a couple of weeks before your menstrual period can be worse than during less stressful times in your life. 

Engage in meditation and exercise to balance your hormones and fight anxiety, stress or depression. This can make the weeks leading to your period less stressful, in turn easing PMS.


Pre-menstrual symptoms occur about a week or two before your period. With symptoms ranging from bloating to cramps, various factors can worsen your PMS. However, you can control the pain with exercise, a good diet and meditation. Limiting intake of alcohol and caffeine can also ease PMS.

Christie Lewis
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