It might be a common sight to see a woman pressing her abdomen unable to relieve her menstrual cramps in advertisements and television. But what could be the reason behind it? It could be due to Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS which has a line of symptoms that a woman experiences before her menstrual period.
The blog discusses PreMenstrual Syndrome, its symptoms, causes, and treatment at length.
What is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?
Premenstrual syndrome is when the menstrual cramps are accompanied by emotional trauma, physical, and behavioral unfitness, severely impacting women’s daily life.
In general, they experience certain symptoms like mood swings, emotional outbursts, irritability, headaches, bloating when their menstrual cycle approaches. These symptoms vary from person to person.
A severe PMS that lasts longer than this cycle is termed “PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder” (PMDD). This can have severe symptoms that hinder both personal and career life.
Premenstrual Syndrome - Symptoms
- Crying spells
- Social withdrawal
- IQ drop
- Change in libido
- Muscle and joint pain
- Obesity-related to fluid retention
- Acne flares
- Constipation (at times diarrhea)
PMS symptoms vs pregnancy symptoms
While some of the PMS symptoms may appear similar to pregnancy symptoms, it is difficult to ascertain that you are pregnant before you get positive in your pregnancy test.
Some of the common symptoms between the both are back pain, mood swings, an instinct to pee more, tender breasts or breast pain, headaches, constipation, and other relevant conditions.
Premenstrual Syndrome - Causes
The exact cause of PreMenstrual Syndrome remains inconclusive. Besides several developed theories, nothing yet has a solid scientific ground. But the thin layer of evidence that connects most of the study is discussed below;
Changes in the brain chemicals: The fluctuations in Serotonin (a brain chemical, or that acts as a neurotransmitter) could cause mood swings.
This can be one of the main Premenstrual syndrome causes instill anxiety, irritability, and other mood-related swings.
Serotonin deficiency may lead to,
- Premenstrual depression
- Sleep disturbances
Yet another cause could be ovarian steroids which modify brain activity.
Sometimes an excess of androgens or hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) can lead to mood swings and other PMS symptoms before your periods.
Changes in the hormone cycle:
Progesterone and estrogen levels usually drop during your menses. With these hormonal fluctuations, the signs and symptoms of PreMenstrual Syndrome could appear and disappear.
Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals:
This could play a major role in causing PMS. Women generally afflicted with PMS may run short of nutrients due to low dietary intake of Vitamins A, C, E, B-6, and other B vitamins along with magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Nutritional recommendations can help in such cases, including the quality of diet.
This includes more intake of good sources of Ca, Mg, and K. Alternatively, an intake of Vitamin D-rich food can reduce the PMS symptoms.
Salty foods, alcohol, caffeine:
These may ruin the PMS in you. While too much caffeine and alcohol can disturb your sleep, too much salt hidden in processed foods and other store-bought foods like pizza, canned soup, deli meat can ruin it all.
Eating less salt is ideally recommended for women with bloating and breast tenderness.
Who are at PMS risks?
- Any woman who gets her menses can be affected by PMS, but it is more likely found in;
- A woman who is in her late 20s to mid-40s. Especially if she is in her ‘40s
- An older teen
- A woman who had a single pregnancy
- A woman with a history of depression is more vulnerable to premenstrual syndrome.
When to approach a doctor’s help for PMS?
You may have to consult your doctor if your physical symptoms (PMS depression, sudden mood switches, slender breasts, cramps, etc.) continue to persist even after your menstrual cycle gets over. This could be a “predictable premenstrualpattern”.
Alternatively, when you realize your PreMenstrual Syndrome goes unmanageable leading to PreMenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), you may have to seek your doctor’s help.
Reports claim that women with extreme cases of PMDD have tried to self-harm themselves.
Therefore, it is generally recommended to consult your doctor when you realize that the syndrome has begun to negatively affect your mental health, personal relationships, job, or daily activities.
Ideally speaking, there is no diagnosis for PreMenstrual Syndrome. Simple lifestyle changes can alleviate PMS symptoms in many cases.
Depending on their severity, your doctor may prescribe medications and help you figure out a way, especially if it’s a predictable PreMenstrual pattern.
The first step in achieving a premenstrual relief is ensuring a premenstrual pattern.
To ensure this, you may have to work with your doctor to make notes of the signs and symptoms for at least two menstrual cycles with proper dates, jotting down when they appear and disappear. There might be other conditions that might resemble PMS during the course.
This includes thyroid disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, or PMS anxiety. Your doctor might suggest a thyroid function test or mood screening tests for a deeper diagnosis.
In some cases, your doctor might screen you with the help of a Pelvic Scan to examine if you have any underlying gynae problems. You could get screened for PCOS for a deeper diagnosis to see if your ovaries are functioning well.
Alternatively, a thyroid hormone test can ensure your thyroid gland is intact. Sometimes your doctor would prescribe antidepressants or SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) to reduce mood symptoms.
Another medication could be Diuretics or water pills, which increase the amount of water and salt expelled as urine.
Talk to your doctor about the premenstrual Syndrome causes and symptoms.
Brainstorm on questions like the treatment, diagnosis, benefits, side effects, counsel available, the lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, premenstrualstress level, and chances to ease symptoms. We hope you overcome this soon.