Premenstrual Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

pms
Contributed by: Abshar Faheem

What is PMS?

PMS stands for Premenstrual syndrome, which is a condition that affects a woman’s emotional, physical, and psychological health occurring after ovulation and one or two weeks before her menstruation. Researchers or experts believe that PMS occurs in the days after ovulation because estrogen and progesterone levels start falling dramatically if you are not pregnant. 

The most common symptoms of PMS include bloating, headaches, moodiness, breast tenderness, mood swings, and depression. As soon as your menstruation begins, these changes can go away on their own or such as after menopause. These changes are the signs indicating that your periods are coming soon although, for some women, it’s not a big deal while for other women, these changes may be severe.

Severe PMS symptoms may be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD occurs in few women causing significant loss of function. If these changes are affecting your daily activities, you might have premenstrual syndrome. PMS is a very common condition affecting almost 90 percent of menstruating women at some point in their lifetime. 

Most women may have at least one sign of PMS each month before their menstruation begins but the symptoms may not be the same for everyone. The symptoms can also change after pregnancy or as you get old. The symptoms can become severe when you reach your late 30s or 40s and in the transition to menopause called perimenopause. PMS symptoms can be physical, emotional, and behavioral and are different for every woman.

 A woman can have symptoms, few of them not all of them, and may change throughout her life.

Physical symptoms of PMS include:

  • Breasts can be tender or swollen
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Headache or backache
  • Clumsiness
  • Lower tolerance for noise or light
  • Weight gain
  • Pimples
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Joint pain
  • Hunger

 

Emotional symptoms of PMS include:

  • Tense or anxious
  • Depressed
  • Crying
  • Mood swings
  • Sleepless
  • Avoid meeting or talking to people
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Angry outbursts
  • Hostile behavior
  • Appetite changes 
  • Trouble with concentration
  • Less interest in sex

 

Behavioral signs

  • Forgetful
  • Lack of mental focus
  • Feeling tired 

Talk to your doctor if these symptoms start messing up with your daily life or your symptoms do not go away. 

PMS is a common condition but experts do not know the exact cause behind it. However, experts believe that it can be associated with a change in both sex hormone and serotonin levels at the initial phases of the menstrual cycle. Levels of estrogen and progesterone may enhance during certain periods of a month. A rise in these hormones can lead to mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. levels of Serotonin, a chemical in your brain, affect moods, emotions, and thoughts. Other risk factors that may contribute to your PMS include, 

 

  • Emotional and physical trauma
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • A family history of violence
  • A family history of PMS
  • A history of depression or mood disorders such as postpartum depression or bipolar disorder

Below are the conditions that can affect your PMS but do not cause it. These conditions may bring on or get worse your PMS including:

 

  • Smoking
  • Severe stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Too much salt, red meat, or sugar consumption
  • Feeling of depression

How to manage PMS?

There are plenty of ways to manage your PMS. You cannot cure your PMS but you can ease your PMS symptoms. If you feel mild or moderate symptoms of PMS, you can manage it on your own by following some home remedial ideas,

 

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day to reduce bloating and improve mental health
  • Adding healthy food items such as fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • Add food items containing plenty of calcium such as green leafy vegetables, canned salmon, and dairy 
  • Drink plenty of fluids to ease abdominal bloating
  • Reduce consumption of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol
  • Take vitamin D to reduce your PMS symptoms
  • Stop smoking
  • Take enough rest and sleep at least 8 hours per night to lower your fatigue
  • Work to lower your stress through exercising and reading
  • Monitor your mood changes and keep a record of changes in a diary

If your signs interfere with your daily activities, talk to your immediately. Your doctor may ask about your history of mood disorders or depression to conclude whether your symptoms are due to PMS or any other health condition. Some conditions such as pregnancy, IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, bladder pain syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome may have symptoms similar to PMS. Detecting your illness in the early stages can lead to effective treatment.

 

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