For some women, the lead-up to their period is associated with uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. These women suffer from premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
The good news is that good lifestyle choices can help alleviate premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
PMS corresponds to a series of marked physical, psychological and emotional symptoms that occur a few days to two weeks before the onset of the menses. Because of their intensity, they can temporarily undermine a woman’s quality of life.
Despite research into the issue, the exact causes of PMS are not clearly understood, but it is believed that those affected are hypersensitive to the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle. History of mood disorder or a family history of PMS are said to be risk factors and women in age to procreate are most likely to experience it.
There are currently no tests to screen for PMS with any certainty. To determine if a woman suffers from this syndrome, she must experience certain symptoms for a minimum of three consecutive cycles.
When to see a doctor for PMS?
If your symptoms are very severe, debilitating and interfere with your own life and the lives of those around you, it’s time to consult a doctor. He can rule out underlying conditions and make sure your symptoms are manageable. He can also determine if you’re suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
PMS isn’t easy to diagnose and shouldn’t be confused with dysmenorrhea, or painful cramps in the lower abdomen that can occur at the start of each month’s period.
Since PMS has such a wide variety of symptoms, you may want to keep a journal to record your symptoms, their severity, and when they appear and disappear. This journal will help you see a pattern connected with your menstrual cycle and rule out depression or another mood disorder.
What are the symptoms of PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause a range of physical and psychological symptoms that begin 7 to 10 days before menstruation and end when the period starts. These symptoms appear approximately 1 week before ovulation.
- mood swings
- anger and tension
- feelings of depression
- fatigue or insomnia
- changes in sex drive
- trouble concentrating
The physical symptoms may include:
- breast tenderness
- bloating from water retentiom
- slight weight gain
- abdominal pain or cramps
- nausea or vomiting
- cravings, especially for sweet foods
HOW TO RELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS OF PMS?
Healthy lifestyle choices are the best treatment for PMS.
- Learn to manage your stress. You can try relaxation techniques such as yoga, massage, acupuncture or deep breathing. You can also see a psychologist.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes regular and balanced meals.
- Ensure you have good sleep habits.
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) at least 5 times per week.
- Reduce your caffeine, alcohol, sugar and sodium (salt) intake.
- Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. If you have trouble quitting, ask your pharmacist or doctor for help. They will be happy to recommend the right resources for you.
- Stay away from recreational drugs, especially cocaine.
If these healthy lifestyle choices fail to alleviate your PMS symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medication. If you are prescribed medication, the most problematic symptoms should be addressed first, as each drug relieves only one or a few symptoms at a time. Your doctor or pharmacist can recommend the most appropriate treatment for you based on your overall health and needs. Your reaction to medication may be different from someone else’s, and you may have to try more than one drug before you feel better.
Some women use vitamin supplements such as magnesium or calcium or natural health products such as evening primrose oil to treat their PMS symptoms. However, the effectiveness of these products has not been scientifically proven. These products can also cause side effects and interact with certain medications. Talk to your pharmacist before using them.
THE SEVERE CASE: PREMENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. The symptoms are very similar to PMS, but they vary in they are different in their intensity.
PMDD can have a significant impact on your life. Emotional changes, such as unpredictable mood swings, are particularly disruptive. You may feel extremely frustrated at your inability to control your emotions and reactions during this time. PMDD can also affect your relationships. Difficulty concentrating or even taking time off to cope with your physical and psychological symptoms can affect your work or studies.
Treatment for PMDD include, medication (antidepressant, anti-inflammatory medication), hormone therapy/contraceptive and stress management (healthy exercise, relaxation, healthy sleep hygiene and diet).
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.