It is common for most women to go through difficult times before the onset of their menstrual cycle. Commonly referred to as PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome, this stage in a female’s menstrual cycle can be quite a cumbersome one. PMS has concerning effects on the physical health, emotions, and behavioral patterns of a woman during specific days of her menstrual cycle. It generally occurs before the periods start and ends soon after the cycle normalizes.
If you have been going through the agonizing symptoms of PMS then you would know how difficult it is to get over the bump until your menses begin. Your grapple will anxiety, cramps, depression, and a general sense of lowliness. Read on to know more about Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), a commonly-found condition in women of all ages, globally.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
PMS is quite common and impacts women of all age groups. The signs and symptoms of PMS influence the lifestyle of more than 90 percent of women undergoing menstruation. It’s only when these signs start impairing some part of their day-to-day life that they opt for medical support, interventions, or supplementation. The symptoms of PMS generally begin 5-11 days prior to the onset of the menstrual cycle. The tell-tale signs of PMS recede once the menstrual bleeding begins. Though there are several beliefs about the causes of PMS, there are very few that can be medically established. However, according to recently published research reports, most PMS related concerns can be attributed to changes in the serotonin and sex hormone levels in women when their menstrual cycle begins.
It is important to note that the levels of progesterone and estrogen are found to escalate during specific periods across the month. For instance, an increase in the levels of these hormones may lead to anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. The presence of steroids in the ovary adds to these symptoms and makes them more prominent in menstruating women. Steroids modulate and influence different brain-related activities, especially those related to premenstrual symptoms. The levels of serotonin in the body are also responsible for impacting moods. This chemical is generated in the brain and has long-lasting and prolonged effects on the emotions, thoughts, and moods of human beings. Any disturbance in the levels of serotonin can cause different reactions and give rise to adverse behavior.
What Causes Premenstrual Syndrome – the Risk Factors
Risk factors contributing to the onset and growth of PMS include a history of mood disorders or depression. This encompasses bipolar disorder and postpartum depression among other types of depression. A family history of depression or PMS is also a risk factor for the onset of PMS. The other factors include domestic violence, physical trauma, substance abuse, emotional trauma, and so forth. An understanding of these risk factors can help reduce the intensity of the symptoms of PMS. There are some associated and remotely linked conditions and risk factors that include dysmenorrhea, seasonal affective disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, generalized anxiety disorder, etc. In-depth understanding of these risk factors can provide patients with clues as to why they suffer from the signs of PMS.
The menstrual cycle in women is spread across an average period of 28 days. The period of ovulation, when an egg comes out from the ovaries, usually occurs on the 14th day of the cycle. The bleeding starts on the 28th day and then the 5 days of menses begin. The symptoms linked to PMS may start showcasing themselves from the 14th day of the menstrual cycle and continue till 6-7 days after the onset of the bleeding.
Symptoms of PMS
In most women, the signs of menstruation are moderate or mild. According to a report published in the American Family Physician (a popular journal), nearly 75-80 per cent of women either go through one or more PMS symptoms. These symptoms have negligible or very mild impacts on their daily living patterns. Up to 20 -32 percent of women undergo severe or moderate symptoms of PMS. These symptoms are likely to impact their daily living and may cause emotional or physical impacts. Only 3-8 percent of women go through PMDD. According to health care specialists, the duration and severity of the symptoms of PMS, in this case, varies from one individual to another; the impact is also influenced in accordance to the month of the menstrual cycle.
The commonly-found symptoms of PMS are abdominal bloating and pain, sore breasts, acne and pimples, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, food cravings of the sweet kind, fatigue, irritability, and strong sensitivity to sound or light. Women undergoing the signs and symptoms of PMS are also likely to experience changes in sleep patterns, anxiety, sadness, depression, and a spate of emotional outbursts that can jeopardize their life and relationships badly.
PMS – Should a Doctor Be Consulted?
It is important for women to consult a physician if they are feeling mood swings, physical pain, anxiety, or other signs of PMS that may start influencing their daily life adversely. A doctor’s visit is also necessary if the symptoms become prolonged and refuse to go away even after prolonged periods. The diagnosis is possible if the patient is showcasing one or more symptoms of PMS continuously. Diagnosis and treatment are also in order if the symptoms start recurring every month. Besides, it is important to see a doctor if the symptoms cause impairment or do not surface between the period of ovulation and menstruation. A doctor’s visit can rule out the concerns of anemia, endometriosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), thyroid disease, rheumatologic/connective tissue diseases, and so forth.
The doctor would generally question the patient about any prior incidence of depression, mood disorders, or any mental/ physical trauma. The history of mood disorders in the patient or important family members is also ascertained to find any links with the symptoms of PMS. An understanding of the exact symptoms helps the doctor determine if the problems can be linked to PMS or are the result of other health conditions. There are certain conditions such as hypothyroidism, pregnancy, IBS, etc. that give off symptoms that are quite similar to those of PMS.
A thyroid test may be performed by the doctor to determine the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Besides, a pelvic examination and a pregnancy test may also be conducted to rule out or zero in on any gynecological problems. An effective way of keeping track of PMS related issues lies in maintaining a menstrual diary. You may want to maintain the dates of your menstruation and the symptoms faced to understand the frequency and severity of the onset of PMS every month. In case the same symptoms are recurring around the same days of the menstrual cycle then PMS may be the cause of the physical and mental discomfort. Proper supplementation and medical help can go a long way in alleviating these signs that can impact your daily life in adverse ways.
Ease Out the Symptoms of PMS
According to health experts, it is not possible to remove the symptoms of PMS completely. However, you can take certain positive steps to ease out the inconvenience caused by them. Drinking plenty of fluids and increasing your water intake, exercising regularly, opting for PMS patches and supplements, easing abdominal bloating, and taking care of your overall health and energy levels are the right way to go. So, are you ready to combat your PMS woes and move forward in your menstrual cycles with a smile? Consult a nutritionist or health practitioner right away.