Hormones really can be hell. As many as one in three women of child-bearing age suffers from ‘clinically significant’ pre-menstrual syndrome and scientists warn this means they are also at increased risk of troublesome symptoms when they go through menopause.
A study published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, found that post-menopausal women who had been plagued by PMS when they were younger, were more likely to experience memory problems, depression, poor sleep and feeling less attractive.
The only glimmer of hope was that researchers found no link between PMS and the incidence and severity of hot flushes in later life.
The findings come as a new survey reveals that three out of four (76%) British women don’t think they know enough about how hormones affect their daily lives. A similar number (73%) of women aged 20 to 40 were not even sure what hormones are.
The information gap emerged in two polls conducted for Kira, one of the most trusted brands in Women’s supplements, which asked 1,000 women about their health, happiness and knowledge of hormones.
More than eight out of ten women (82%) aged 20 to 40 feared their lifestyle and diet could damage their health in future and only a quarter thought they had found the right work-life balance.
Dietetian Dr Emma Derbyshire says: “Looking at these findings, I’m not surprised so many women suffer from PMS. A number of different vitamins, minerals and enzymes are needed for optimal hormonal function, so it makes sense that a poor diet could undermine hormonal health.
“A lot of women who get PMS have normal blood sugar levels, but say it feels as if they have gone through the floor and they get cravings for chocolate, cakes and other sweet treats. What seems more likely is that hormonal changes around menstruation make us more sensitive to any subtle changes in blood sugars.”
However, the hormones which drive menstruation and the reproductive system are just the tip of an incredibly complex iceberg.
Dr Emma Derbyshire adds: “Hormones are basically chemical messengers and they regulate a whole range of things including digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction and mood. Some are positively female in their ability to multi-task and operate across a number of different functions.”
Yet the survey found our knowledge of these important body chemicals was patchy. Eight out of ten women (84%) aged 20 to 40 knew hormones affect reproduction, but only half (52%) realised that hormones were produced by the endocrine system.
And although there is evidence that exercise and a healthy diet are important for a healthy endocrine system and hormonal balance,, only one in four women (25%) surveyed thought they were looking after themselves properly.
Two out of five (43%) thought they ate healthily but didn’t exercise enough, while one in seven (13%) said they exercised but their diet was not up to scratch. Worryingly, almost one in five (18%) admitted they were failing on both fronts.
Dr Emma Derbyshire continues: “These women are missing a trick when it comes to managing their PMS symptoms.”
B vitamins appear to be particularly important in reducing PMS. A study by researchers at North Staffordshire Hospital and Keele University found that vitamin B6 was twice as effective as placebo at relieving PMS.
There is also evidence that B1 and B2, which are also known as thiamine and riboflavin, play an important part. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts found high intakes of these B vitamins reduced the risk of PMS by 35%.
In summary Dr Emma Derbyshire notes: “One theory is that thiamine and riboflavin have an impact on serotonin, which is sometimes called the happiness hormone — although strictly speaking it’s not a hormone, it’s a neurotransmitter which regulates the release of a number of different hormones.”
How to give PMS the push
Kira PMS Relief is a registered traditional herbal remedy used to help relieve the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome, based on traditional use only. THR accreditation guarantees it is made to the same exacting standards as pharmaceutical medicines, so you can be confident that the dose and quality are consistent.
The active ingredient is 4mg of dried extract of agnus castus fruit (Vitex agnus castus L.) a traditional remedy backed by scientific studies which confirm it works in a similar way to the corpus luteum, a hormone-secreting structure which develops with each menstrual cycle.,
It should not be taken by anyone who is:
- Pregnant, trying to become pregnant or who is breastfeeding
- Allergic to any of the ingredients
- Suffering from a pituitary disorder or have suffered in the past
- Intolerant to some sugars
- People under 18 years old
Women taking the contraceptive pill should consult their GP before taking herbal remedies.
Kira PMS relief is available from Boots and Waitrose RRP £9.19.
Kira Hormonal Balance is a one-a-day food supplement which is great for women on the go as it does what it says on the pack, and helps keep your hormones in balance.
It contains a combination of essential B vitamins, which are important for hormonal metabolism and balance. Vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C and folic acid also help reduce tiredness and fatigue, while vitamins B1, B6, B12, folic acid and pantothenic acid may help to maintain normal mental performance and normal psychological function.
Kira Hormonal Balance is available from Boots and Waitrose RRP £11.40.