PMS meansPremenstrual Syndrome, and they are a group of symptoms associated with your menstrual cycle, they manifest before the start of your period, say about 7-15 days before your menstruation actually starts, and they stop as soon as your menstrual flow starts.
Menstruation (simply called period or menstrual period) occurs when the lining of a woman’s uterus is being shed, as a result of lack of fertilization of the matured eggs (no pregnancy). This shedding process is termed menstrual blood flow, which involves bleeding from the vagina, occurring at the end of eachmenstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle for an average woman is approximately 28 days. Hormones estrogen and progesterone are the regulators of this cycle. This process begins in the life of every woman during puberty and lasts tillmenopause.
Some problems are commonly associated with a woman's period, and these includes; heavy bleeding, missed periods, and menstrual pain. These problems are usually caused by menstrual cramps (also known as dysmenorrhea), amenorrhea (missed period), abnormal uterine or vaginal bleeding.
Some common problems associated with menstruation include; cramping, acne, breast tenderness (mastalgia), fatigue,bloating,andmood swings around the time of the menstrual period and these problems are sometimes referred to as “Premenstrual Syndrome.”
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is characterized by physical as well as psychological symptoms which develop at some point in time after you ovulate (most likely, during the middle of your menstrual cycle), and ends at the beginning of your period. Although 90% of women are believed to have some symptoms or the other associated with their menstruation, true PMS symptoms are more severe and its likely occurrence is 20% to 30% of women.
What causes PMS is not so clear, although several factors may be implicated. Changes in the body hormones during the menstrual cycle seem to be the major cause. The effects of changing hormone levels vary in women affecting some more than others. Also, chemical changes occurring in the brain are also implicated. Emotional problems, such as depression or stress do not seem to cause PMS, but they can make it worse. While some other probable causes include:
- Getting less of essential vitamins and minerals
- Fluid retention as a result of consuming a lot of salty foods
- Mood and energy level alteration as a result of excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption.
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PMS often includes,both physical and emotional symptoms. Below are some 20 symptoms that are commonly associated with PMS:
- Swollen or tender breasts
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Sleeping problem
- Bloating, weight gain
- Low backache
- Appetite changes and abnormal food cravings
- Joint and muscle pain
- Trouble with memory and concentration
- Tension, irritability, mood swings, or crying spells
- Lowsex drive
- Increased urination
- Swollen joints, such as ankles
Some of these symptoms can be severe, such as, premenstrual mood swings, irritability, depression, or anxiety (with or without physical symptoms). When such occur, it is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The symptoms generally disappear within the first 3 days of your menstrual flow, although, they occur only rarely.
Some health conditions may worsen between the ovulation period and the first day of your menstrual bleeding. The health conditions that are mostly affected include:
- Central Nervous System related health problems including; anxiety disorders and depression.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome. (CFS).
An extensive series of estimates had been made of the number of women suffering from PMS. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that at least 85% of menstruating women have at least 1 PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle. Most of these women will just have moderately mild symptoms that do not require treatment. Others (say about 3% – 8%) have a more severe form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
PMS occurs more often in women who:
- Are in their late 20s to early 40s
- Already have at a child
- Have a family history of depression or who have a past medical history of eitherpostpartum depression or a mood disorder
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is considered a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMDD has also been referred to as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder. The cause of PMDD is unknown. Some of the common symptoms of PMDD include: mood swings, bloating, fatigue, headache, irritability, headache, breast tenderness, acne, hot flashes and more. These symptoms can be treated naturally, but the first thing is to know what is responsible for the symptoms — if it is PMS or some other conditions.
What looks like PMS may sometimes be caused by an entirely different condition, therefore it is quite important to know the root cause of the symptoms you are experiencing, so that you can get the right treatment and/or subsequently prevent recurrence.
The best way to learn if your symptoms are PMS is to keep amenstrual diary for about 2 or 3 months and then show it to your health professional. The diary should keep track of how your cycle went over that period of time including; which symptoms you experienced each day, when they occur and for how long they lasted, how severe the symptoms were and any other issue that accompanied those symptoms. It goes a long way to enable your doctor make an accurate diagnosis of your condition, as well as being able to make informed decisions about your treatment course. This is the first step to getting the required treatment for the syndrome — (identify what is causing the symptoms).
Many of the symptoms of PMS are also associated with other conditions and some of these conditions include pregnancy, depression, anxiety, menopause, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Your doctor will make sure that you do not confuse these conditions with PMS.
Topping the list of the confusing conditions is; pregnancy. Many women find it so difficult to figure out whether they have PMS, or are pregnant, or are about to begin their period. The most common signs and symptoms of earlypregnancy,PMS,and the start of your period includemood swings,back pain, increased urination, and tender breasts. These three conditions also share other similarities in their signs and symptoms, but there exist exclusive differences between each of them. Moreover, there are symptoms that only occur if you are pregnant.
Signs and symptoms: Similarities existing between PMS and pregnancy
For a lot of women out there, signs and symptoms of early pregnancy may resemble those of her approaching PMS or menstrual period. It is almost impossible to tell from early symptoms alone whether a woman is pregnant or having symptoms related to her upcoming menstrual period (PMS).
The most similar common signs and symptoms that pregnancy and PMS share include:
- Back pain: This symptom can be noticed when your period is about to begin, but it also can also be a symptom of pregnancy.
- Headaches: Headache may be a symptom of pregnancy, but many women also complain of experiencing migraines or headaches prior to their menstrual period or with PMS.
- Mood changes (anxiety, crying spells, and irritability): Mood changes are common in both PMS and early pregnancy. These changes can include depression, irritability, anxiety, and mood swings.
- Increased urination: Women also can experience increased urination rate if they are pregnant or are about to have their period.
- Breast pain, swollen breast and tenderness: Breast pain, breast swelling, tenderness, or enlargement, may occur in the early stage of pregnancy and prior to your menstrual period. The breasts feel heavy, sore, and/or sensitive for both conditions.
- Constipation: The hormone called progesterone may cause digestive disturbances which includes constipation. Because progesterone levels rise during the latter half of the menstrual cycle, constipation may be present in those women an approaching menstrual period with PMS. So also, hormonal changes that occur at the early stage of pregnancy can also lead to constipation.
Signs and Symptoms: Differences existing between PMS vs. pregnancy
- Bleeding or spotting: Mild spotting (that is, insufficient bleeding to soak your pad) may sometime occur about the implantation time of embryo into the uterus in the early stage of pregnancy. This is also known as “implantation bleeding.” This is different from the heavy bleeding experienced by some women at the beginning of their period.
- Nausea and/or vomiting: Nausea and vomiting are more typical of early pregnancy and are not common symptoms of PMS or an approaching menstrual period. Therefore, if you are pregnant you are more likely to experience these symptoms.
- Fatigue:Fatigue is common in women in the early stages of pregnancy, but it also occurs as a sign of PMS in many women. However, the fatigue of PMS generally goes away once the period starts.
- Cramping: Abdominal or pelvic cramping andpain occur in many women prior to, or even during her menstrual period. These symptoms often are particularly troublesome for women with PMS. However, some women may have mild cramping in the early stages of pregnancy.
- Food cravings/aversions: A lot of women experience cravings for food or increased appetite prior to the onset of their period. Food cravings and aversions also are typical of pregnancy, although the food cravings of pregnancy are often more specific and intense, e.g. for salty and sugary foods, than during PMS or prior to their menstruation.
The only way to find out and confirm if you are pregnant is with apregnancy test. This will help to eliminate pregnancy from the list of possible causes of your symptoms. Home pregnancy test kits are available without a prescription at pharmacies and many grocery stores, as well as online.
PMS fatigue, PMS cramps, PMS acne, PMS cravings for food and a host of other symptoms vary in women, due to some personal factors, some of which include; genetics, lifestyle, medications, diet, etc. Therefore, natural ways to treat PMS or prevent it from occurring stems from modifying some of these factors and lifestyle activities, including taking some herbal remedies. The following PMS tips will help you with the PMS symptoms. While some women may only practice one of the natural treatment method to get gross results, others may need to combine several methods before they can notice any benefit.
TheNatural treatment options for PMS include;
Studies show that womentaking plant-based diets high in vegetables, herbs, nuts, fruits, and seeds have fewer and milder symptoms of PMS.
Reduce your salt intake for the month, especially a week before the start of your period. Excessive salt intake causes increased fluid retention, which in turn leads to bloating. Always try to avoid processed foods, especially canned soups, as well as packaged snacks because many of them contain high levels of sodium , they should be avoided as much as possible. Also, reduce the amount of sugar and sugary snacks you consume, it spikes up your sugar level, which upon having a sugar crash later on, causes irritation and fatigue.
Rather,dose more on healthy foods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains (such as whole grain breads, barley and oats). Take more fiber-rich foods, as they help to eliminate excess estrogen out the body.
Flaxseedis very good for PMS as it helps with estrogen metabolism.
Also, if you drink coffee a lot, you need to start considering cutting back on it, as it causes dehydration and it worsens the case of depression and tenderness of the breast.Try to reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake drastically.
Ratherdrink more water. When you take water, some amount of salt leaves your system through urination, and this helps to stop the incident of bloating. About eight 250-milliliter glasses of water a day is recommended. Although one of PMS symptoms is the craving for salty and sugary foods, you need to put in conscious effort in order to limit and reduce your symptoms.
This works for treating mild PMS symptoms, and it involves;
Vigorous intensity and extended exercise may actually worsen your PMS symptoms as a result of potentiating hormonal imbalance. Focus on exercises that are not too stressful such as, swimming, yoga, walking, massage, etc. Reduce extended running, heavy weight lifting and other cardio-exerting exercises. There isaT-Tapp system,a less exerting exercise that has found usefulness for this purpose in women, as it helps lymph stimulation and balance blood sugar.
About 2 hours of moderate-intensity exercise is fine, such as walking, light jogging, etc. Although about 15 minutes of intense aerobic physical exercise have been found to help and this include; sprinting, football, tennis, etc. Engaging in some muscle-strengthening exercises occasionally may be helpful.
Getting enough sleep is quite important to hormonal balance in the body. Make sure you get about 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Also, try to rest (siesta) during the day, about an hour daily, this helps to further prevent hormonal imbalance, maintain healthy weight, as well as improve your performance at work and your daily life. It also helps you cope well with stress (relaxation therapy also works for some women).
Avoid smoking: (Be it active or passive)
Certain vitamins and minerals have been found to be great PMS hacks (that is, help relieve some PMS symptoms). These include:
- Folic acid (400 micrograms)
- Calcium (1000 – 1300 mg): Pregnant women or nursing mothers need the equal amounts of calcium like other women of the same age.
- Magnesium(400 mg): It is very good for PMS and menstrual cramps to relieve pain and balance hormones. It also helps with sleep disorders. Care should be taken when taking magnesium supplements to stay within the specified limits of 400mg, in order to avoid hypermagnesia.
- Vitamin D: The best source of Vitamin D is from the early morning sun. Make sure you don’t stay too long in the sun, as this may precipitate skin conditions. An average of 30 minutes to an hour in the early sun (10am – 11am) is optimal for the body.
- Vitamin E (400 i.u.)
- Vitamin B6 (50 – 100 mg)
Some women find their PMS symptoms relieved by taking supplements such as:
- Vitex/Chaste Tree Berry – It helps to nourish the pituitary gland and lengthen the luteal phase. It also helps to lower prolactin and increase progesterone levels. It offers a lot of advantages when used to treat PMS and it is effective alone for some women to treat the condition.
- Red Raspberry Leaf – Is a well-known fertility herb and is also effective in relieving PMS symptoms. It contains a high level of calcium.
- Evening primrose oil
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil– It provides many of the necessary building blocks for hormone production including Vitamins A, D, and K. It also is a great source of Omega-3s and beneficial fats.
- Gelatin is a great source of magnesium, phosphate and calcium. It supports digestive health and hormone production and also helps to reduce inflammation, especially at the joints.
- Natural Progesterone Cream – PMS, as well as menstrual crisis are mostly linked to specific hormonal imbalances. Especially for women having short second phase of their cycle (ovulation through to the start of their menstruation), progesterone may be the cause. Progesterone cream should be used only in the second phase of your cycle and make sure to get one that is soy-free.
Talk with your doctor before taking any of these products, especially if you are on a medication or contraceptive to avoid interactions.