Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndrome, more commonly referred to as PMS can be described as a very common condition that affects most women, when they are going through the ovulation process. There are several signs and symptoms experienced by women during this period and unfortunately most of them can be quite unpleasant. A woman going through PMS usually goes through a combination of physical, psychological, emotional and mood disturbances soon after the ovulation period. These unpleasant feelings usually come to an end with the onset of the menstrual flow.
The severity of PMS can vary from one woman to the other. There are some who may not even be able to go about the day to day activities because of PMS, whereas for others, it may be no more than an inconvenience. A more severe form of PMS, known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) has been known to affect a small amount of women. In this disorder, the symptoms are so severe they could lead to a considerable loss of function. Most of the symptoms of PMS follow a predictable pattern; however, the intensity of the symptoms may vary from one month to the other. For example, PMS symptoms may be quite severe during a couple of months but barely noticeable in the others.
Studies indicate that around 75% to 80% of all women experience some form of PMS or the other. While just about any woman can be affected by PMS, this affliction is a bit more common in those who have crossed their late 20s. However, severe PMS, which affects a womans functioning, has been observed only in around 20% to 30% of all women. The most severe variant, which is PMDD, is seen in only around 2% to 6% of all the women living across the United States.
Fortunately, this problem is rarely ever life-threatening; yet most women choose to adopt ways and means that can help them overcome the symptoms and unpleasantness they go through. This means that if you do suffer from PMS month after month, you do not have to let the discomfort control your life. There are several approaches to treatment, involving dietary measures and lifestyle adjustments that can help reduce the symptoms of PMS, till they are barely noticeable and easily manageable.
Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
PMS is characterized by several symptoms, that can be classified into physical signs, emotional signs and psychological signs. Given below are some of the most common behavioral and emotional symptoms for premenstrual syndrome:
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in appetite, food cravings or even aversions
- Crying bouts and spells
- Increase in tension and anxiety
- Lack of concentration
- Trouble falling asleep, fitful sleep or other sleep-related disorders
- Intense irritability or even outright anger
- Depression and mood swings
The physical signs and symptoms for premenstrual syndrome could actually cause you more trouble and could also be the factors that affect your day-to-day activities and can trigger of the behavioral symptoms. Given below are some of the most common physical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome:
- Digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea
- Tenderness in the breasts
- Weight gain because of fluid retention by the body
- Severe headaches
- Outbreaks of acne
- Bloating in the abdominal area
- Extreme weakness, tiredness or fatigue
- Pain in the joints and muscles
While there are several signs and symptoms associated with PMS, it is very rare for a woman to experience more than a few of them. This does not mean that it is impossible for a woman to go all through these symptoms every month.
The symptoms of PMDD are a lot more severe and intense. If you do notice any of the symptoms mentioned below then it is possible that you suffer from PMDD:
- Getting irritated, anxious or all worked up over the smallest thing
- Low self-esteem, often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness
- Alternating between severe depression and anger
It is best for you to consult a doctor in case you have not been very successful in controlling the symptoms or if they are affecting your day to day life.
Causes of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
The exact causes for premenstrual syndrome are still not clear, but it is believed that there are several factors that could trigger it off. Given below are some of the possible factors that could lead to PMS:
- Poor Dietary Habits: It is believed that women who suffer from deficiencies of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are more likely to experience PMS symptoms. You could also be more prone to PMS if you have the tendency to consume foods excessively high in salt, which leads to water retention. The consumption of alcohol, coffee and aerated drinks can also lead to mood swings, fluctuations in energy levels and other symptoms.
- Depression: Many women who suffer from PMS have actually been diagnosed with chronic depression. However, this problem is not likely to cause many of the other PMS symptoms.
- Hormonal Changes: Women go through hormonal changes regularly, due to different reasons. At times a woman can also suffer from hormonal imbalance, which leads to PMS
- Stress: With the rapid spread of urbanization across the world, most of our population lives in urban areas, with highly stressful jobs and fast paced lifestyles. In such an environment some amount of stress is absolutely normal. However, in case you are under a tremendous amount of stress, because of any reason, you could be more prone to PMS related problems.
- Brain Chemical Changes: A neurotransmitter or brain chemical known as serotonin plays a very important role in your overall mood, emotional state and overall behavior. Fluctuations in serotonin levels is one of the factors that triggers of PMS symptoms. In case the level of serotonin is lower than what it should be, you may experience depression, sleeping problems, food cravings, weakness, tiredness and other adverse PMS symptoms.
Remedies for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Fortunately, there are many ways in which your health care provider can help you to cope with and manage the discomfort and unpleasantness caused by PMS. Some of the medications prescribed for this purpose can include antidepressants, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), diuretics, oral contraceptives and medroxyprogesterone acetate. However there are a few side effects that may be associated with such medications, which is why many women choose to avoid them. Fortunately, you could follow a few self-care steps too, to achieve positive results in controlling the symptoms of PMS.
One of the first steps in reducing PMS is alleviating the levels of stress in the body. In order to do so, you could:
- Ensure that you get adequate amounts of sleep and rest during the day.
- Practice relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, meditation
- Choose to go through massage therapy, especially a head massage, which has a highly relaxing effect on the body.
- Engage in any hobby that can help you feel calmer and relaxed, even if it is something like reading, painting or listening to music.
Apart from sleep, rest and relaxation, it is important for you to get the required amount of exercise during the day too. You do not need to exercise for hours together; exercising for around 30 to 40 minutes a day can be just as beneficial. Some of the most beneficial exercises you can engage in are walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or any other similar aerobic exercises.
Herbal remedies are also known to relieve the symptoms of PMS to a great extent. Some of the most effective herbs that you can choose include ginger, black cohosh, chaste berry dandelion, raspberry leaf and evening primrose oil. Drinking a few cups of herbal tea at regular intervals during the day is also said to be very helpful. However, the effectiveness of herbal remedies for PMS has still not been proved, due to lack of scientific studies. Moreover, the FDA does not regulate the use of herbs in the US.
Diet for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Many women claim that they reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of PMA by making a few simple dietary adjustments. Given below are some of the changes that you can incorporate in your existing diet, to alleviate PMS:
- Limit your intake of salt, as it aggravates water retention and leads to bloating
- Make sure that you eat smaller meals during the day. Eating 5 to 6 small meals instead of 3 large ones will make it less likely for you to experience bloating and energy fluctuations
- Avoid tea, coffee, aerated drinks or alcohol, as they aggravate the symptoms of PMS
- Increase your intake of foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. At the same time, simple carbs found in sweets and refined foods should be reduced or strictly avoided.
- Consume a higher amount of foods rich in calcium, in the form of milk and other dairy products like plain yogurt and cottage cheese. For any reason if your diet is low in calcium, you may need to add a supplement to your diet.
- Eat foods that are high in nutrients like magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E.
However, there is no clinical evidence to prove that a diet can indeed improve the condition in any way.
Suggestion for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Before trying any of the home remedies or dietary recommendations, it is important to consult a doctor and seek his/her approval. This is all the more important if you are elderly or are suffering from any preexisting medical condition. In case you do not get any relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of PMS after trying the remedies recommended or after incorporating the lifestyle and dietary adjustments it may be best to consult a doctor and seek professional help.