Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition involving physical and emotional symptoms that women usually experience in a week or two before the menstrual period. These symptoms affect emotional and physical health, as well as the behaviour of women during the menstrual cycle – before the beginning of the period.
PMS is a very common condition and affects more than 90 per cent of women who menstruate. The symptoms of PMS last for 10 days and eventually fade out at the start of the period. Symptoms also tend to recur in set patterns; however, the intensity of the symptoms depends on person-to-person – from non-significant to intense. However, PMS can easily be managed provided one understands the reasons for it, the types of PMS, causes, risks, and treatment options.
Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Almost all women experience one or more symptom of PMS in a month before menses. However, the type of symptom and the intensity varies from person-to-person. In many cases, women do not experience any PMS symptoms and carry on with their normal life. That said, some of the general symptoms that might indicate PMS are:
Physical symptoms of PMS include:
- Swelling or tenderness in breasts
- Unexplained weight gain
- Abdominal bloating
- Menstrual cramps
- Digestive issues – constipation or diarrhoea
- Oily skin
- Acne or any other breakout
- Alcohol intolerance
Some psychological symptoms of PMS include:
- Low mood
- Unexplained irritability
- Sleeping problems
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Appetite changes such as increased food cravings
- Mood swings
- Decrease in libido
- Crying sessions
- Social withdrawal
Moreover, women with health conditions such as diabetes, depression, or inflammatory bowel disease will experience worsened health during PMS.
Causes of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
The exact cause or reason that triggers PMS in women is unknown; however, certain factors that contribute towards the problem are:
- Changes in hormones: Hormonal fluctuations such as a decrease in estrogen and an increase in progesterone cause PMS symptoms in women.
- Chemical changes in the brain: Changes in certain chemicals such as serotonin, responsible for mood swings, can trigger PMS. Lack of serotonin in the right amount can cause food cravings, depression, sleep issues, etc. before the periods.
- Depression: Women suffering from depression experience worsened PMS conditions. In many women, depression is not diagnosed yet and hence, PMS continues to trouble.
Risk Factors of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Certain conditions or factors make some women more prone to experience PMS than others. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive stress
- Lack of physical exercise
- Lack of enough sleep
- Excessive alcohol
- Increased intake of sodium, red meat or sugar
Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
The type of symptoms and the intensity of PMS symptoms vary by each woman and hence, there is no specific treatment, though the symptoms of PMS can easily be managed through dietary changes, lifestyle changes, self-care, medications, etc. Some of the general treatment methods include:
Over-the-counter medicines and prescribed drugs by doctors can help relived PMS symptoms such as menstrual cramps, headache, nausea, fatigue, digestive issues, abdominal bloating, and others. Pain killers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as diuretics, help to manage symptoms.
In case of severe PMS cases, birth control pills may be suggested to control the fluctuating hormonal levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
Calming Techniques and Therapies
Emotional and some of the physical PMS syndrome can also be easily managed through calming techniques and therapies that work to relax the body. Women can involve themselves in hobbies or undertake meditation and breathing exercises to relax the body. Moreover, other methods that can work wonders to manage symptoms of PMS include:
- Physical workout
- Taking a bath
- Walking in nature
- Listening to songs
- Sharing feelings with friends or family
Controlled Physical Exercise
Exercising regularly helps to balance hormonal fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone in the body. The controlled physical movements increase these hormonal levels and reduce PMS symptoms such as nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, swollen breasts, bloating, increased appetite, etc.
Abdominal bloating is a very disturbing symptom of PMS and can be easily managed through some quick and easy home remedies and steps such as:
- Reducing the intake of salt to avoid water retention
- Eating foods such as bananas that are rich in potassium
- Drinking a lot of fluids
- Engaging in light exercises
Ease Menstrual Cramps
Home remedies work wonders to ease menstrual cramps that cause a lot of pain. Remedies such as applying heat to the abdomen, engaging in light physical exercise, massaging, as well as applying essential oils can help reduce the pain and cramps.
Changes in diet
Changes in diet, such as increased intake of nutritional food and focus more on healthy food items, can effectively help manage symptoms of PMS. Some nutrients that must be included in the diet are:
- Magnesium: Obtained through green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, etc.
- Fatty acids: Sources such as fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables, etc. help to reduce abdominal cramps.
- Calcium: Apart from bone strength, calcium helps to ease sleep disorders, regulate mood swings and also balance food cravings.
Apart from these – folic acid, Vitamin B, etc. also really help to manage PMS symptoms.
In all, PMS is common in women of all reproductive ages and has varied symptoms depending per case; however, it is possible to manage PMS by controlling symptoms through effective methods.