Premenstrual Syndrome(PMS) is a collection of a range of emotional symptoms, with or without physical symptoms, occurring only during the luteal phase of woman’s menstrual cycle.
Three out of four women who menstruate experience similar symptoms like cramping, bloating and general crabbiness ranging from mild (in 75 percent of women) to severe (in 20-30 percent of women).
Although it is not known exactly what causes PMS, fluctuating levels of female hormones are probably to blame. These hormones, estrogen, and progesterone begin to drop two weeks before your period. The latest research points to changes in brain chemicals,the neurotransmitters, in the time after ovulation and before menstruation. Life stressors and the genetic link may also play a role. Some people think that what you eat can influence certain symptoms. Eating salty foods, for example, can make you retain fluid, which causes bloating.
PMS symptoms usually start from 7 to 14 days before your period. Any time within that period is average but if you are having symptoms longer than 14 days, see your healthcare professional. It also depends on which PMS symptoms you are talking about. Cramps and Fatigue occur just a day or two before your period . Other symptoms such as tearfulness, crankiness, and irritability can occur for several days before your period. Bloating and fluid retention can happen for about a week before your period comes. Breast tenderness can happen for up to 10 days or so before your period, and feelings of more significant depression can be around for up to two weeks before your period start. Symptoms resolve once the women’s period begins and there is usually at least one symptom-free week before the symptoms return.
Some women never have any PMS symptoms.Many women have some, but not all, of these in any given cycle. It may help to keep track of your symptoms on a calendar for a few cycles to get a better feel for your body and its premenstrual rhythm.
Risk factors include weight and smoking. Women with a BMI higher than 30 are three times more likely to have PMS than those with a normal weight. Smokers are twice as likely to have severe PMS symptoms.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
About 5 percent of menstruating women suffer from seriously debilitating PMS,which is known as PMDD. The symptoms may have a serious impact on the women’s mental health state and can be so severe that an affected woman is unable to carry out her normal activities.
How you can feel better during PMS days:
PMS is real.
But first you may need to chart your symptoms for several months to be sure that you are experiencing PMS and not another condition like depression, says Dr. Casey.
And even though there is no real “cure” for PMS, many treatments and lifestyle changes can help to successfully manage the symptoms.There is no need to be uncomfortable.
It is not just what you eat, but how you eat. Aim to eat at regular intervals to avoid dips and spikes in blood sugar, says Joanne Piscitelli, M.D., associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University in Durham, N.C. “It is worth changing your diet habits before moving on to medical therapies because you are less likely to have side effects,” she says.
A salt-heavy diet can cause bloating, caffeine can aggravate irritability or anxiety, alcohol may worsen depression, and too much sugar can destabilize your blood sugar and mood. Try to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains the week before your period.
Drink as much water as you can.
Stay active. Exercise can fight both physical and emotional PMS symptoms, says Dr. Piscitelli. “Even though women say they do not have energy, this is probably when it is most important to exercise,” she says.
Pick an exercise routine that gets your heart rate up and that you enjoy. For PMS, The National Women’s Health Information Center recommends two and a half hours of moderately intense activity, one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of the two each week, plus two muscle-strengthening sessions.
Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a day. it is important that you get adequate rest and plenty of sleep. Try to get as much sleep as you think you need so that sleep deprivation does not ratchet up symptoms.
Manage your stress.You can try deep breathing, massage, meditation or yoga, which can soothe the mind and body.
Do not smoke.
Vitamins may be beneficial for PMS, particularly B6 and E, says Petra Casey, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.Here are some suggested daily doses from the Mayo Clinic:
Calcium: 1,200 milligrams
Magnesium: 400 mg.
Vitamin B6: 50 to 100 mg.
Vitamin E: 400 international units (IU)
Herbal remedies may be effective in relieving PMS symptoms like cramping and mood swings.
You might consider using black cohosh, chaste berry, evening primrose oil, ginger, raspberry leaf, dandelion or natural progesterone creams.
You might consider low-dose oral contraceptives, which may reduce PMS symptoms. The medications work to even out hormones over the course of a woman’s cycle, Dr. Piscitelli says.Some women use them continuously instead of in the typical cycle to avoid getting their period, which can also reduce PMS symptoms, though it can lead to breakthrough bleeding.
Antidepressants are not the first choice for PMS-related mood problems. Still, they are an option if symptoms are severe and affecting your daily life (and nothing else is helping).
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Zoloft and Prozac are often prescribed, says Dr. Piscitelli. They can be taken just for a week or two before your period or all of the time.
PMS can also aggravate underlying depression. Some women may think depression is cyclic and mistakenly attribute it to PMS, but they do not realize it does not really follow the patterns of their periods until they track it, says Dr. Piscitelli. Treating the underlying depression can help PMS symptoms.
Many women experience bloating in their hands, feet, face or stomach with PMS. If exercise and cutting back on salt do not work, another way to combat this is a diuretic. These prescription drugs help the body get rid of excess water by boosting urine output.
One commonly prescribed diuretic is spironolactone (Aldactone). But diuretics are not for everyone. They can exacerbate urinary incontinence, constipation, lower blood pressure, raise potassium levels and interact with other medications.
Before taking these and any other medicine, even over-the-counter medications, be sure and check with your doctor. In most cases, small changes in your diet, like less salt and more water, and proper rest and exercise, are enough to overcome those annoying days every month.