Magnesium and the menstrual cycle
Who experiences a roller-coaster of emotions before their period? The luteal phase of our cycles, which occurs after ovulation and before menstruation, can be an intense time for some of us.
As a cyclical living therapist and writer, I work with people who want to understand the different phases of the menstrual cycle through an emotional lens. And even though working with our thought processes and inner critic can play a hefty role in optimising the premenstrual phase; it has its limits. So, it’s essential to look at the physical impacts of PMS, supporting both our bodies and minds to prevent a downward spiral of low energy and negativity.
I’ve recently come to see the benefits of magnesium both personally and therapeutically as a way to feel more grounded and supported during the last few days of my cycle. Hormone imbalances can cause symptoms in different parts of the body such as fatigue, mood swings and headaches. And magnesium can be a way to fight these PMS and menstrual-related symptoms, helping you feel less stressed and healthier during this time.
What are the benefits of magnesium for PMS symptoms?
What is magnesium and how can it help? Magnesium is an essential mineral necessary for nearly all our hormone reactions and can be found in seeds, leafy greens, nuts, grains and some fruits. Research not only suggests that magnesium is a natural treatment for reducing PMS stress, but it can also help painful periods and hot flushes.
Do you feel tensions rising as you approach the end of the month? This is because our stress levels can increase before our period starts due to fluctuations in hormone levels. Magnesium can calm the nervous system by balancing progesterone and reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. It’s swings and roundabouts as stress can cause a deficiency in the first place; so you can’t go wrong by eating more magnesium-rich foods to tackle stress and improve general well-being.
PMDD is different to PMS, where symptoms can intensely affect the person’s well-being. Symptoms are more severe and may include hopelessness, ongoing sadness, extreme anger, sleep deprivation, and overwhelming irritability. Please see your GP if you’re concerned about your symptoms.
Our mood can hit rock bottom we’re drawn into a dip in hormones at the end of our menstrual cycle. Fluctuating from outbursts of anger to floods of tears, it can be a difficult time to juggle the demands and expectations of everyday life when our body is calling us to slow down a little. This can have a knock-on effect on the way we talk to ourselves and the way we manage our relationships. The luteal phase of our cycle is when we are most likely to internalise criticism and give ourselves (and those around us) a hard time. Magnesium can help elevate our mood by producing increased levels of serotonin; our mood-boosting hormone. The lead-up to our period can feel a little less fraught with the help of a much-needed serotonin boost.
Some of us have to endure those dreaded premenstrual headaches. They can start with a pounding head, but can quickly lead to feeling sick and a general feeling of being wiped out. Research shows magnesium helps when it comes to preventing ‘menstrual migraines’; these are more likely to begin either the two days leading up to menstruation or when you first start bleeding due to a drop in oestrogen levels.
Headaches can be the result of other health-related problems so always contact your GP if you’re concerned about your symptoms.
Magnesium can defend against that drop in energy, and can even help you sleep better by regulating body temperature. Even a mild magnesium deficiency can cause issues with muscle weakness, cramps, sensitivity to noise, and sleep disturbances. So if you’re hitting a wall at the end of your cycle, magnesium might be a natural way to ease any symptoms of fatigue.
Which foods are high in magnesium?
Some foods you can fill your plate with to introduce or increase magnesium into your diet are:
- brown rice
- green beans
- dark chocolate
The recommended daily amount (RDA) of magnesium is 300mg for men (19-64 years) and 270mg (19-64 years) for women. Some nutritional therapists believe that overfarming, fertilisers, soil depletion, and climate change means less of the mineral is absorbed into our bodies. As a result, we aren’t able to get as much magnesium from our food. If you’re concerned about being magnesium deficient, there is the option to take magnesium supplements in the form of a soluble spray or to buy organic magnesium-rich foods when possible. An easy way to sprinkle magnesium into your every day is by adding some Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) into your bath. Your body will absorb the mineral through the skin and will also help reduce those PMS stresses.
As always, please make sure you consult with your GP before taking supplements. Magnesium is not suitable for those with chronic kidney disease. It is usually safe to use, but in extreme cases, magnesium supplements can cause diarrhoea and interact with medication. It’s worth pointing out that magnesium can negatively impact people who are on heart medications or taking antibiotics.
If you’re looking to lessen your PMS symptoms, you may benefit from contacting a nutritionist who can help make a plan to lessen mood swings and PMS issues to make your menstrual cycle an easier experience. To find a qualified professional, please use our search tool.