Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Mid-wife / Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert


How to Control PMS Anger

Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Mid-wife / Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert

Everyone gets angry from time-to-time. In most cases, anger is caused by a specific issue - a problem at work, a screaming toddler, a fight with your partner - and that hot, fiery feeling disappears fairly quickly. However, many women experience more anger leading up to and during their period. It usually accompanies other PMS symptoms, but mood swings that involve anger can be particularly distressing. They can also cause issues in your personal life. 

But why do you get so angry before your period? 

In this post, we’ll tell you about what actually causes PMS anger and some tips to help ease the rage. 

How fluctuating hormones can lead to anger

Many women experience PMS in the days or weeks leading up to their period. While some may experience physical symptoms like cramps and tiredness, others get more emotional symptoms like anxiety, mood swings and yes, you guessed it: anger! 

PMS anger is linked to fluctuating hormones. During ovulation, estrogen and progesterone levels drop which influences your serotonin levels. Serotonin is what helps regulate your mood. It can also impact sleep. With mood altered and sleep taking a hit, the unfortunate outcome is often a dose of unexplained anger. 

Of course, not all women will feel PMS anger but it is a very common symptom. Thanks, hormones! Be assured, you’re not going crazy and you are most definitely not alone. It helps to talk about it and normalise it. So here we are… talking about it! 

How to ease the feelings of PMS anger

If hormonal anger is a common symptom, what can you do about it? 

Firstly, try to anticipate potentially triggering situations ahead of time. For example, if you’re planning a weekend with those in-laws that you don’t particularly get along with and your period is due, consider rescheduling. Of course, we realize that it’s not always possible to change your life to accommodate your body’s hormonal schedule, so here are a few other practical things that can help: 

Track your emotions

Start tracking your menstrual cycle on your phone or in a period tracking app. We have a whole list of our favourites here. This will help you know when you might expect mood swings and changes in your emotions as you move through the different phases of your cycle. It can also help to know there is a biological reason why you’re feeling low or angry. It can help keep things in perspective and reassure you that the feelings will pass. 

If you’re concerned that your symptoms are a sign of something more serious, (like PMDD - more on that in a minute!) it can also help to have a log of your last few cycles to bring to your doctor. 

To track period anger or other mood swings, make a note when you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Sadness
  • Sudden, unexplained changes in your mood
  • Randomly crying for no particular reason
  • Feeling irritable
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Trouble staying focused or concentrating
  • A lack of interest in things you normally enjoy
  • Low energy

Lots of apps will allow you to record symptoms too so pick one that has this option. 

Avoid your triggers

As we mentioned, if there are things or events that you know are likely to trigger you, try to avoid them if you can. 

You may think that having a drink or two can “take the edge off”  but many women find that alcohol actually makes their PMS anger worse. Be conscious of your alcohol intake in the week leading up to your period and pass on the cocktails if you notice it’s making your mood worse. 

Think about the things that make you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Write them down. Which ones can you avoid? Is it working late? Is it an upcoming family gathering? An event where an ex might be attending?  If there are things you can cancel, avoid or move, don’t feel bad about this. You’ll be better for it (And frankly, so will everyone else!) 

Make some lifestyle changes

There are, of course, ways to control PMS anger naturally. There’s no magic here. It’s just simple lifestyle changes that can make a big difference. It may seem too basic to be effective, but take it from us, these four things can do wonders to alleviate PMS symptoms and stop you from seeing red: 

  • Exercise. At Guud Woman, you will always hear us talk about the benefits of movement. When we say exercise, we don’t necessarily mean an hour long run or HIIT session at the gym. The goal is to be active for at least 30 minutes more days of the week than not. Even a daily stroll around your neighbourhood can help. If you can get out in nature, even better. It can help with feelings of sadness, irritability, and anxiety. Wondering how to exercise according to your cycle? We wrote a whole blog post on it: Period Power: Train According to Your Cycle
  • Nutrition. This is another area that we are always talking about. Fuelling your body with whole foods and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can really help alleviate PMS symptoms including PMS anger. As much as that bag of crisps seems like tempting comfort food, try to avoid junk, especially in the lead up to your period.  Large amounts of sugar, fat, and salt can be a mood destroyer. Also, you don’t need to be extreme about it. We love to indulge too but just try to balance out these foods with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help keep you full throughout the day and help avoid blood sugar crashes which can make you even grumpier! You can also change the way you eat throughout the month to align better with your cycle. Here’s a handy guide on how to hack your cycle with food! 
  • Sleep. Oh sleep. It’s so very important and often overlooked! Not getting enough sleep can ruin anyone’s mood, but it can be especially disastrous in the weeks leading up to your period. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Want to know more about how sleep affects your cycle? Read our blog post here
  • Stress. If your stress is through the roof, it will undoubtedly dampen your mood. Add in some PMS and you have a perfect recipe for rage. There are some elements of life that cannot be changed but you can do things like deep breathing exercises, meditation and yoga to give your body a much needed sense of calm.

Try some natural remedies 

Natural remedies for anger and irritability can be a good option. Research has shown that some women with PMS symptoms have low magnesium levels and the guud news is that this is super easy to fix! Just grab a supplement with magnesium in it or reach for dark leafy greens, low fat milk and yogurt - they all contain magnesium. 

Vitamin B6 might also be a good shout as it has been shown to contributesto normal psychological function. Research has shown that adding a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 can therefor help women with a variety of PMS symptoms. That’s because Vitamin B6 helps boost your dopamine and serotinin levels! Hurrah!

What if I have an outburst?

Despite our best laid plans, sometimes our feelings get the better of us. Hormones are powerful things and some women find that their PMS anger results in unfortunate outbursts at work, with friends or at home. And then, what’s worse, is that you end up feeling really guilty about it. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. 

You don’t need to apologise for your menstrual cycle. But it can help to talk about it and be more open with people where possible. While this may be tough at work, try being honest about your PMS symptoms with your partner or friends. It will help ensure that the people you love most will better understand what’s going on and can actively try to help you - or just give you a bit of space! 

And, where warranted, apologise if you freaked out or reacted badly to something. It happens to everyone once in a while, but if you find that you’re apologising a lot, it might be time to start tracking your symptoms more carefully so you can see trends and plan ahead using some of the self care tips we’ve shared here. 

How can you tell the difference between PMS and PMDD? 

Sometimes, extreme anger and mood swings can be a sign of a more serious condition known as Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This is a severe form of PMS that can really impact someone’s life. It can be difficult to know the difference between PMS and PMDD as they both include some of the same symptoms like irritability, anxiety, and low mood. However, for women with PMDD, these symptoms are way more severe. 

It could include things like anger that negatively impacts relationships, panic attacks, feeling out of control, frequent uncontrollable crying, a complete lack of interest in daily activities, extreme tiredness and intense mood swings. For women with PMDD, these emotional symptoms also come with some not-so-nice physical symptoms too like breast tenderness, changes in appetite and trouble sleeping. 

The Guud news is that many of the same lifestyle changes that can help PMS anger and other symptoms can also help PMDD. 

When to seek help 

Mood swings and anger that comes with PMS can be tough, but you can do quite a bit to help alleviate your symptoms. Taking care of yourself and being aware of your cycle may sound too simple to be effective, but we promise it can make a big difference. 

If you’re feeling stuck or confused, talk to one of our experts. We’ve all been there and we’re here to listen and help you. 

What's Guud for you?

Take The Quiz