Is it PMS or IBS?

This one is for the women out there (but also the fabulous men reading this who support a woman with IBS). Do your IBS symptoms get worse when you’re about to get your period? Mine often do and I’m sitting here right now thinking that I’m probably experiencing PMS symptoms, or are they IBS symptoms? I can’t be sure which is which because they’re very similar, but I know that I am looking forward to my period arriving because that’s generally when things start to get better.

PMS symptoms

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) can present in any number of ways in the lead up to a period (menstruation). I was reading through a list of symptoms that someone might experience with PMS and saw that a number of them were also symptoms that are commonly experienced with IBS - abdominal bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fluid retention, increased appetite, irritability, mood swings, insomnia or excessive sleepiness, headaches, difficulty in concentration, depression and lowered mood, acne, anxiety, hot flushes, tender breasts, lowered libido and many more.

I have definitely experienced pretty much all of these symptoms over the years in the lead up to my period but there have been times when I have experienced none of these. Sometimes, and I especially love these months, my period just appears and I’m like, wow where did that come from! But some months, like this one, I know it’s coming and I wish it would hurry up if only to ease the bloating!

Is it IBS or PMS?

In the past few days I’ve experienced bloating, constipation, increased appetite and irritability. Now generally I would think to myself that I must have eaten something I shouldn’t have, or perhaps I have been a little stressed. But then I check my period calendar app on my phone and realize that my period is due. The frustrating part is that I don’t know whether I should be more cautious with my food intake or whether I just need to take some time out to relax or whether nothing I do will make a difference because it’s all hormonal!

Managing PMS

I was reading some tips on one site about how to manage PMS and coincidentally a number of them are actually ones that are encouraged for IBS management:

There are also complementary therapies that may be able to help with PMS like naturopathy or acupuncture, or prescription hormonal therapies or medication, and of course always check in with your health professional if your symptoms persist.

So I think that regardless of whether I’m currently experiencing IBS or PMS or both, it’s a good reminder to take some “me time”. Maybe I’ll take an Epsom salt bath or go for a walk along the water, and I’ll think stick to my fail safe foods so that I don’t aggravate my IBS symptoms. Hopefully all the symptoms will pass in the next day or so and then I’ll have to deal with all the symptoms that go along with my period! Uggh, but that’s another story.

Do your IBS symptoms get worse when you’re about to get your period? Do you get PMS? I’d love to hear how you manage it so please comment below!

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