PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome. And it refers to mental, physical and emotional symptoms that many women experience on the days before the beginning of a period.
Emotional symptoms that most women experience are mood swings, depression, irritability, anger and tearfulness.
WHO GETS PMS?
Women of all ages suffer from PMS, from young girls just starting their period to older women approaching menopause.
The stages at which women get the symptoms varies. Some may notice symptoms at an early age, while others notice after giving birth, coming of birth control pill, or losing weight.
But it is most common in :
- Women who are in their late 20's to over 40's
- Women who have had a baby
- Women who have a family history of depression
- Women who have bipolar disorder or have had in the past postpartum depression, depression.
What Causes PMS
The body is a balanced mechanism regulated by chemical substances called hormones. Mood, energy level, appetite and many other things are controlled by hormones.
Through out the menstrual cycle, hormone levels changes and this is why women get PMS at a particular time of the month.
Hormonal deficiency causes PMS for some women but not all women.
What Do Hormones Do?
As the egg ripens in the ovary, it releases the hormone oestrogen, which causes the lining of the womb to thicken.
This is in preparation for a fertilised egg incase a woman does get pregnant.
When oestrogen has reached a certain level in the blood, the egg is released from the ovary. This is called ovulation. And it happens around the middle of the cycle.
Oestrogen also causes the vaginal to be wet and slippery during ovulation. To create the best conditions for sperm to survive and fertilise an egg.
As the egg starts to travel from the ovary and down the fallopian tube to the womb, a second hormone is produced from the ovary called progesterone.
This travels through the blood stream to the womb where it gives instructions for the lining of the womb to be completed.
If the egg passes along the fallopian tube and into the womb without being fertilised, then the level of both estrogen and progesterone hormones drop quickly.
Without the support from these hormones, the thickened lining of the womb soon begins to break down and it's shed in the next 2 weeks as your period.
The end of one menstrual cycle leads to the beginning of a new one until a woman reaches menopause.
The 'ups' and 'downs' of the hormonal changes do seem to mirror the ups and downs that many women experience through their cycle and especially if they have pre-menstrual syndrome.
What are the symptoms?
There are uncountable symptoms of PMS. Everyone experiences many of them at some time.
Physical Symptoms or signs
- Breast Tenderness
- Weight Gain
- Bloated Stomach
- Extreme tiredness and clumsiness
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- Slurred speech
Emotional Symptoms or signs
- Mood Swings
- Loss of Confidence
- Feeling Worthlessness
- Feeling Overwhelmed
Mental Symptoms or signs
- Loss of focus and concentration
- Fatigue and tiredness.
Most women have only a few of this symptoms and may find that they vary each month. Every woman's experiences are also different. No two women are the same.
When Does It Start
For many women it helps to know their period is coming.
The length of every woman's menstrual cycle varies. It is usually between 21 days to 35 days long. But typically 28 days for most. The time of bleeding itself also varies between 3 and 7 days. PMS can start as early as 2 weeks before your next expected period.
And because the premenstrual symptoms are somewhat similar to pregnancy symptoms most women will assume the are pregnant.
Are there any possible treatments?
There is no one treatment for PMS. You can try a lot of remedies to find out what works for you.
There are 3 different ways of tackling PMS:
- Changing to healthier ways of living- eating, alcohol, exercise, stress, relaxation
- Self-help medication
- Help from the Doctor.
What you can do
- Eat foods high in fibre and contain natural sugars such as muesli, nuts, carrots, celery, dried and fresh fruit.
- Cut down on anything that contains caffeine such as coffee, tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks (coke).
- Exercise 30 minutes daily
- Learn to unwind and relax
- Get Vitamin B6 Supplement
- Evening Primrose Oil
Help from the Doctor
The Following treatments may be offered by your doctor
- Hormone Treatment may be offered
- Oral Contraceptive (The Pill)
- Diuretics helps with water retention
- Tranquillisers or Antidepressant