Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a commonly occurring condition which comprises a set of specific physical and psychological features. The condition affects woman’s emotions, physical health, and behavior during few specific days of the menstrual cycle. Usually, this occurs just prior to, that is 5 to 11 days before menstruation. Additionally, the term ‘premenstrual syndrome’ was coined in 1953.
Premenstrual syndrome is linked to periodic cyclic changes in the endocrine system. Furthermore, the system produces hormones which help in controlling the menstrual cycle.
- Ovarian steroids modulate brain activity in parts associated with PMS symptoms.
- Moreover, fluctuations in serotonin level, which is a neurotransmitter, affect emotions, moods, and thoughts.
Risk factors associated with PMS include:
- A history of mood disorders, such as postpartum depression or bipolar disorder
- A family history of PMS
- A family history of depression
- Domestic violence
- Substance abuse
- Physical as well as emotional trauma
- Lack of exercise
- Increased stress
- A diet low in substances such as vitamin B6, calcium, or magnesium
- High caffeine consumption
Also, age affects PMS. The condition becomes more common in women through their 30s. Furthermore, symptoms might get worse over time.
Conditions associated with PMS include:
- Major depressive disorder
- Anxiety disorder
Up to 85-90% of menstruating women experience PMS symptoms. PMS is an enigma due to the wide variety of symptoms, that is more than 150.
Furthermore, symptoms may be physical as well as emotional. The most common potential ones include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pain
- Lower back pain
- Muscle pain
- Weight gain due to fluid retention
- Sore and tenderness of breasts (mastalgia)
- Appetite change
- Cravings for food, especially sweet and salty
- Over-sensitivity to light or sound
- Lack of energy
- Changes in sleep cycle
- Emotional outbursts
- Lower sex drive
- Trouble in concentrating
- Decreased alertness
- Social withdrawal
One must only visit the doctor if the symptoms begin to affect day-to-day life.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) causes severe symptoms such as mood swings, depression, irritability, and anxiety. Additionally, the person also experiences suicidal thoughts and insomnia.
Generally, menstrual diary is a helpful diagnostic tool for PMS. From several ways, women need to choose the right choice.
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as Zoloft and Prozac help in relieving physical and mood symptoms of PMS.
- Hormonal birth control pills also help in reducing the symptoms. Estrogen-progestin pills improve bloating, headache, abdominal pain and breast tenderness. Furthermore, low-estrogen birth control pills such as Yasmin may help relieve severe PMS or PMDD symptoms.
- Oophorectomy (surgery to remove ovaries) for PMDD.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen aid in easing the premenstrual pain and cramps. Moreover, they also reduce menstrual bleeding and breast discomfort.
- Diuretics (water pills) also treat PMS symptoms. Spironolactone and Drospirenone ease bloating and breast tenderness.
Surprisingly, one cannot prevent PMS. Rather, the following lifestyle practices help in reducing the chances of severe symptoms.
- Regular exercising reduces pain
- Consuming healthy food, especially rich in Calcium
- Limiting substances such as caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, and salt
- Reducing stress
- Smoking cessation