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PMS and How It Can Affect Your Sobriety


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OK, let us talk about the premenstrual symptoms (PMS) ladies! Oh, not your favorite topic either? I feel ya! Interestingly enough, it was not until I got sober that I have really noticed what a significant effect PMS has on my well-being, and my sobriety, and the people around me.

When I was drinking, I remember bragging about how I did not have PMS! However, the truth was that I did not FEEL PMS, (or hangovers, or headaches, or any physical pain)! Yep, alcohol masked all of that perfectly – but I had to get drunk to reap the benefits, and well, I am no longer willing to have the consequences so it is not worth it! However, a huge part of staying sober for me is acknowledging my feelings and learning how to cope with them.

This was tough in the beginning because I could not even identify them all. Nevertheless, in early sobriety, I really noticed that once a month my mind was completely out of control! I felt angry, agitated, and just exhausted – I could rip your head off at any moment, or start sobbing on your shoulder! It was really a fifty-fifty chance! However, the feelings felt so real and strong that it became quite difficult to manage.

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In addition, they were quite freighting because I did not know where all the crazy feelings were coming from and I often just wanted to drink to relieve the pain! Nevertheless, I think understanding what is happening to our bodies is helpful in understanding that are are not going crazy at all, we are just in the midst of PMS.

This is some interesting information that I have found on the Women’s Health site.

What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)? Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms occur 1 to 2 weeks before your period (menstruation or monthly bleeding) starts. The symptoms usually go away after you start bleeding. PMS can affect menstruating women of any age and the effect is different for each woman. For some people, PMS is just a monthly bother. For others, it may be so severe that it makes it hard to even get through the day. PMS goes away when your monthly periods stop, such as when you get pregnant or go through menopause.

What causes PMS? The causes of PMS are not clear, but several factors may be involved. Changes in hormones during the menstrual cycle seem to be an important cause. These changing hormone levels may affect some women more than others. Chemical changes in the brain may also be involved. Stress and emotional problems, such as depression, do not seem to cause PMS, but they may make it worse. Some other possible causes include:

  • Low levels of vitamins and minerals
  • Eating a lot of salty foods, which may cause you to retain (keep) fluid
  • Drinking alcohol and caffeine, which may alter your mood and energy level

What are the symptoms of PMS? PMS often includes both physical and emotional symptoms, such as:

  • Acne
  • Swollen or tender breasts
  • Feeling tired
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Headache or backache
  • Appetite changes or food cravings
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Tension, irritability, mood swings, or crying spells
  • Anxiety or depression
    ***Certain vitamins and minerals have been found to help relieve some PMS symptoms.

These include:

  • Folic acid (400 micrograms)
  • Calcium with vitamin D (see chart below for amounts)
  • Magnesium (400 milligrams)
  • Vitamin B-6 (50 to 100 mg)
  • Vitamin E (400 international units)

**Symptoms vary from woman to woman. –  from

Well, I am feeling it again today and I have to acknowledge it again, because if I do not I will most likely get the fuck-its, or offend someone or… some other crappy behavior will emerge, and I do not want any of those! In addition, yes even after some years sober, the fuck-its come and I feel like I want to just throw it all away and get drunk.

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To deal with PMS, I have to tell myself that this is a temporary feeling and that it will go away and it has nothing to do with anything else but the fluctuation in my hormone levels, which is something that I have no control over. HOWEVER, just acknowledging this can help me stay calm and level headed. Sobriety is so dear to me these days! I always want to protect it no matter what. I know most of us have some symptoms and not always are we as aware as we should be, but this can be crucial to maintaining and keeping sobriety.

Got any helpful tips? I would love to hear!

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.

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*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).



    • You know, I saw that alcohol may increase the symptoms, it got me wondering if maybe it actually made me worse I just though it was from drinking not pms. LOL! Well I am glad yours are better now! 🙂


  1. Maggie, your service to the newly sober is awe-inspiring! Like you, I bragged that I never had PMS, never got sick, never felt pain… of course I didn’t, I was completely anesthetized! Sometimes it almost feels good to me when I experience a symptom that I hadn’t in active addiction, it feels like a victory!

    Thanks for this wealth of helpful information!


  2. I had to suck it up years ago and start marking the days on our calender when I was pretty sure I’d be PMSing. I was doing it for me to remind myself that I needed to maintain. One day I walked into the kitchen and my husband was checking the calender, I mean REALLY studying it. I asked what he was doing and he looked up at me and said,”Thank you for this. This is the best thing you have ever done for me.” I didn’t know if I should laugh or be offended. I decided to play it cool.


  3. Brilliant! It’s great that you write about PMS, you go girl!

    But I must tell, about 8 years ago, the birth control pills that I was eating daily were stopped being produced. And so I got a whole new type of pills. Shortly thereafter my menstruation stopped, I worried and thought that I had gotten pregnant despite the pills. Thankfully I had not, and the nurse explained that one side effect with these pills could be NO menstruation. WOOHOO!

    As I don’t want to have children, I was’nt worried about this side effect, so for the last 8 years I have had no menstruation and thankfully therefor no PMS.


  4. This was really interesting Maggie, thanks.

    I have noticed I’m a bit more emotionally fragile in the week before my cycle; I think I’m more in tune with my moods than I was drinking or in my first year of sobriety.

    I use the iPhone app iPeriod to track my days and moods, etc. It helps to be mindful.

    Sleep, exercise, drinking lots and lots of water, taking vitamins all help. Sometimes chocolate helps too. Or Fritos. I’ve been eating Fritos big time lately. Dunno why. Beats drinking though. 🙂

    Great post!


    • Bacon? LOL! And iPeriod? Really. That’s actually pretty cool! Does it give you a foot massage too! He he. I should check it out!

      I think you’re right, being sober let’s me be more in tune and therefore I can be more mindful. Or explain my behavior, for instance, we went to see the principal, a woman, at my son’s school, he was having some behavior issues. As we were discussing some solutions, I started crying like out of no where! I said, Please excuse me, but I am pmsing. And we all laughed! Didn’t get my son off the hook, but at least I didn’t seem completely crazy, right? Goodness, I hope not!

      Thanks Christy!


  5. I too found out how much more intensely PMS affected me in sobriety. I would say it was at its worst about a year in and recently seems better, but I am taking a B complex vitamin (don’t know if that helps, but maybe??). I think it was helpful to look at my calendar and know when PMS was coming and that it was more or less normal for me – that emotional volatility and how hard and suddenly it hit me. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it, or maybe each cycle is different and I will be hit hard this month when it comes. I swear I’m ready for menopause, though I guess that will bring a whole new set of challenges, lol.

    Great post on a topic more sober women need to be aware of!


  6. PMS. Every month it’s like it’s some new thing to me. What’s happening to me? I have to stop and remind myself what’s going on. That I have to be gentle with myself, that I may need more rest, that I need to watch what I eat. And even though I want to hide away until it’s over, I can’t. Because isolating is something alcoholism loves me to do. So I slog through, the best that I can, and then some of it isn’t so bad. I live alone, so no one is “at risk” ha ha, but living alone, I have to remember to reach out to my women friends if I need to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, me too, I have remind myself that it’s pms. Lol and I am glad you mentioned women friends, because I have made some great frindships with women in sobriety and they sure are a great support especially during this time. Who better to understand what you’re going through right? Love my girl friends!

      Thanks Lisa. Hugs.


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