Living in greener areas can reduce PMS symptoms, study finds

“City officials should prioritise natural environments as essential for our health,’ researchers say

Saman Javed
Friday 03 December 2021 12:26 GMT
A woman lies in bed with a hot water bottle
A woman lies in bed with a hot water bottle (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Women who are exposed to more greener spaces are less likely to experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a new study suggests.

Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain, and the University of Bergen, Belgium, surveyed 1,069 Scandinavian women on whether they experience eight different symptoms in the lead up to their period.

These symptoms included anger or irritability, anxiety, feeling depressed, increased sensitivity, difficulty sleeping, breast tenderness, headaches and abdominal pain.

PMS is extremely common, with the National Association for Premenstrual Syndromes estimating that 30 per cent of women experience moderate to severe symptoms.

Women who have spent more time living in greener spaces reported reduced PMS symptoms. Three out of the four reduced symptoms were psychological, the study said.

This “aligns well with the ability of greenspace exposure to reduce stress and improve mental health”, it added.

Stress leads to an increased level of cortisol, which can cause the body to release more progesterone.

“High levels of progesterone have been positively correlated with the occurrence of PMS symptoms,” the study said.

The results of the survey support previous studies which have found that exposure to greenspace is associated with a reduced risk of mood disorders, reduced perceived loneliness and enhances social cohesion.

Researchers said these factors could lessen the risk of PMS symptoms.

Payam Dadvand, a coordinator of the study, said it showed that long-term exposure to green space was needed to see benefits against PMS symptoms.

“When we looked at exposure to green space at a specific point in time, the analysis did not yield any significant results,” Dadvand said.

“More and more studies have shown that green space is beneficial to our health.

“However, in many cities we don’t have enough of it, or it is not close to where the population lives. City officials should therefore prioritise natural environments as essential for our health.”

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