Saturday, November 12, 2011

PMS & Menstrual Cramps - A Solution?

I've heard that menstrual cramps are supposed to get better with age, but so far, that hasn't happened. Now, at age 28, my cramps are just as bad as they were when I was 13. 

I did take birth control pills (oral contraceptives) for over 10 years, and they helped a lot.. My period lessened and the cramps disappeared.  However, now I'm not taking them, and it's been awhile* since I've stopped them, and it seems like my PMS is back big time. Not only do I have the pain, but I also have breast tenderness on the days before my period and sometimes diarrhea along with the cramps. 

I used to wonder if the birth control pills were causing some of my bipolar symptoms, and basically the answer seems to be no.  The only times when they worsened the mood disorder is when I took the generic instead of the brand name, and when I tried the patch.  But for most of those 10 years, I had bipolar disorder and it wasn't the birth control pills causing it.

Like most women, I do have some moodiness associated with PMS.  A little more emotional, but for me it's usually not disastrous.

I tried taking Natrol PMS Control for two cycles, and unfortunately, it didn't help with the cramps at all.  It did help with my mood some. Looking at its ingredients, I see that it has St. John's Wort in it, which is a natural anti-depressant, so I've ditched the useless PMS formulation, and I've been trying a little bit of St John's Wort by itself... It seems to help when I feel down.

As I said, my PMS mood problem isn't usually severe, but this month the timing coincided with an external stressor, and I did feel really down for at least a day.  In response, I took St. John's Wort, Methyl B12, and Magnesium, and that all seemed to help.

So I am still looking for a natural or at least over-the-counter medicine or supplement for cramps. I am taking ibuprofen, which works, but only at high doses, and I'd rather not take such a high dose.  I don't exceed the 24 hour limit of 3200mg, but the high dose makes me feel tired and out of it.  Plus I am concerned about other side effects.  If anyone knows an alternative let me know.

I've read that avoiding dairy before your period can make cramps less, and I think I might have to give that a try next month. 

* When your body is used to birth control pills, it takes awhile for your body to go back to normal after stopping them.  Any doctor who says that your period will return to normal immediately is wrong.  From my experience, it can take well over a year before your body returns to normal. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

List of Medicine & Supplements I Take Every Day

I thought readers of this blog might like to see a list of what I take every day.

Every Day... From Most to Least Important:

Lithium Orotate - 2 Pills in Morning, 2 in Evening - for Bipolar Disorder NOS. This really works for me.

Acidophilus & Bifidus - 1 Pill a Day - I take this to prevent yeast infections and to keep me regular (it helps with constipation).

GTF Chromium 200mcg - 3 Pills a Day - For Blood Sugar Levels. Definitely helps me feel better.

Garlic Supplement - I currently take 3 pills of Nature Made's Garlic, which does work, but I'm probably going to switch back to Now's Odorless Garlic because the pills are smaller and eaiser on my stomach.  Garlic helps fight yeast infections, which I'm prone too, and it also made a rash on my wrist go away.

Zinc Chelate 30mg - 1 Pill a Day - This is a low dose of Zinc. I used to take a higher dose, but I had concerns about long term safety. Zinc definitely helps when I have a sore throat, and I think zinc might help with depression, but I'm not totally sure.

Vitamin C Extended Release - 1 Pill a Day - For my Immune System

Lutein Esters 20mg - 1 Pill a Day - Helps with eyesight.

Manganese 10mg - 1 Pill a Day - Supposed to help with blood sugar levels and hearing. I can't tell if it makes a difference or not.

Kirkland Multivitamin - 1 Pill a Day - I don't know if this helps at all, but I buy it at Costco and it's cheap!

Friday, November 4, 2011

I lost some weight recently.

That's right, I lost weight. Something that I didn't think was ever going to happen - at least not by accident. I just discovered it because my jeans became too loose and I am able to fit into pair of jeans that were too tight before!

I'm not sure what the cause is. I think it might be because I increased my daily supplement of GTF Chromium 200mcg from 2 pills a day to 3 pills a day.

Of course, I'm not sure if that's definitely the reason. My mood has also been really balanced lately, which I'm sure helps keep me from eating too much.

Plus, I'm not taking GTF Chromium for weight loss. I'm taking it because I want to avoid the ups and downs I feel from my blood sugar going to low. Even though I'm not diabetic (not even pre-diabetic), I feel that my body reacts strongly to changes in blood sugar levels. The chromium seems to help lessen the late-afternoon "I'm so hungry" feeling which is sometimes accompanied by anxiety, mood changes, shakiness, etc.

I think that my mood changes may have a connection to blood sugar... but when I test my blood sugar, it's fine. That is, last week after exercising I felt shaky, so I thought I had low blood sugar level. I tested myself and my blood sugar level was 90.   Low blood sugar symptoms aren't supposed to appear until you go into the 70s.  So perhaps my body is more sensitive to blood sugar changes than the norm.

Anyway, the higher dose of chromium seems to be working for me. My mood seems better and my appetite is less, however, I do continue to eat 6 times a day -
Afternoon Snack
Before Bed Snack

I can't imagine not eating 6x a day... I just prefer small, frequent meals to large ones.

Losing some weight has motivated me to try to keep the weight off (and perhaps even lose more) so now I've started to even be more careful about my eating habits.

I continue to wonder if there is some connection between Bipolar Disorder and blood sugar.   I've decided that I'm going to do what works for me, regardless of whether there is science to back it up.  I only had 3 "sick days" last month - that is, days where I definitely felt my bipolar symptoms. And the month before that, just 6 sick days.