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I’m a healthy, active 32-year-old with mostly normal periods. I haven’t been on any birth control products. The past few months, I’ve noticed I’m overly emotional the week before my period. I have felt more stress the past 3 years but nothing out of the ordinary. I am overall a happy person and these emotions can seem to come out of nowhere. Any recommendations?

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Hi! I am a healthy, active 32 year old with mostly normal periods. The past 3-4 months, I have noticed that I am overly emotional the week before my period. I have felt more stress the past 3 years but nothing out of the ordinary within the past 3-4 months. I am overall a happy, optimistic and positive person and these emotions can seem to come out of nowhere at times. My husband and I are planning to start a family this year so I am not wanting to start on any birth control regimens at this time. I would appreciate any insight and/or recommendations.

Of course! This sounds like a classic case of PMS or PMDD. Your doctor can do an evaluation and let you know which it is. In either case, it can be very effectively treated. Here are some of my favorite tips.

  • Dietary tips 
    • If you have any known allergens, look to avoid them. Even low-grade chronic inflammation in the gut can create a sensitivity to the changes in hormones at the end of your cycle.
    • Generally, more refined carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods can contribute to more of these symptoms.
    • Focus on foods higher in protein, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.
    • Aim for foods that contain tryptophan and serotonin: eggs, cheese, pineapple, tofu, salmon (wild-caught), nuts/seeds, and turkey.
    • Higher fiber foods help to fuel the gut bacteria that can help to optimize the gut-brain axis.
  • Lifestyle tips
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy, light therapy, acupuncture, exercise, and massage all have research showing they can effectively help alleviate strong emotions during the end of a cycle.
  • Nutrients/Botanicals
    • B6 and calcium are generally safe and gentle treatments.
    • Vitex, gingko biloba, tryptophan, 5HTP, and St. John’s Wort are also used, but take more supervision and really should only be dosed and guided by a health professional who knows your entire health history, including medications and allergies. 

I hope this gets you started with some ideas!

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