Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Premenstrual Syndrome PMS

Women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) experience mood swings, fatigue, food cravings, tender breasts, irritability and depression. Premenstrual syndrome is thought to affect about three out of four menstruating women.

What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that affects a women’s emotions, behavior, and physical health during specific days of her menstrual cycle. A woman usually experiences these symptoms three to five days before the beginning of menstruating.

A lot of women suffer from PMS. Approximately 90% of menstruating women have symptoms related to PMS. A doctor will diagnose you if it impairs some aspect of your life.

A woman’s PMS symptoms generally appear five to 11 days before her menstrual cycle begins and generally go away once her cycle begins. PMS has no known cause.

The beginning of the menstrual cycle is also believed to be associated with sex hormone and serotonin fluctuations.

It is common to experience higher levels of progesterone and estrogen at certain times of the month. It is possible for these hormones to increase irritability, mood swings and anxiety.

The effects of ovarian steroids are also felt in parts of the brain that are involved in premenstrual symptoms.

The mood is affected by serotonin levels. Chemically, serotonin affects emotions, moods, and thoughts in your brain and gut.

Here are some risk factors for premenstrual syndrome:

Other conditions associated with it include:

Also, check: Side Effects of Overthinking

Who gets PMS?

Three out of four women report experiencing PMS symptoms at some point in their lives. Women with PMS usually experience mild symptoms.

The condition known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) affects less than 5% of women of childbearing age.

Women who suffer from PMS are more likely to:

  • An excessive amount of stress is present
  • Family history of depression
  • Possess either postpartum depression or depression on a personal level

Is PMS affected by age?

Yes, of course. It is possible that PMS symptoms may get worse as you approach or are in the perimenopausal phase, referred to as perimenopause, as you reach your late 30s or 40s.

Menstruation can affect women’s moods, especially when hormone levels change. The hormone levels in your body fluctuate unpredictably as you slowly transition into menopause in the years leading up to it. There is a possibility that your mood changes will remain the same, or that they will worsen.

When you stop getting your period after menopause, PMS stops.

PMS symptoms

PMS symptoms
PMS symptoms

It takes a woman 28 days to complete a menstrual cycle.

Ovulation occurs on day 14 of the cycle when the egg is released from the ovaries. Women usually start menstruating or bleeding on the 28th day of their cycle. The menstrual syndrome begins around day 14 and lasts for seven days after menstruation begins.

Usually, the symptoms of PMS can mild or moderate. According to the journal American Family Physician, nearly 80 percent of women experience one or more symptoms without affecting daily functioning.

A twenty-to-three-percentage of women report symptoms that have a significant impact on their lives. Only 3 to 8 percent of people suffer from PMDD. It depends on the individual and the month on how severe the worst PMS symptoms are.

Check the following symptoms of PMS:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sore breasts
  • Acne
  • Food cravings, particular for sweets
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Hypersensitivity to sound or light
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Emotional outbursts’

Read: Emotional Disorders

What causes PMS?

No conclusive cause or explanation for PMS has been found through scientific research. Theoretically, there are a few theories that have been proposed.

Cyclical changes in hormones

It is believed by many experts that PMS is a result of changes in estrogen and progesterone levels.

Menstrual hormones fluctuate naturally throughout the cycle. It may cause anxiety, irritability, and mood changes during the luteal phase, which follows ovulation.

Chemical changes in the brain

There are several important functions performed by serotonin and norepinephrine in the body, including regulating mood, emotions, and behavior.

It is also possible that these chemical messengers play a role in PMS symptoms.

Changing estrogen levels may cause norepinephrine release, which reduces production of serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. An individual may experience sleep problems and feel depressed due to these changes.

Existing mental health conditions

The risk of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe type of PMS, rises if you have a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.

There is also an increased risk of postpartum depression in families with a history of PMS, bipolar disorder, or depression.

It is also possible that you will experience premenstrual exacerbation. Bipolar disorder and depression are conditions in which symptoms of mental health conditions intensify shortly before your period.

Mental health symptoms and mood changes associated with menstruation have not been definitively explained by experts. The chemical changes discussed above are believed to be the cause.

Lifestyle factors

PMS symptoms may be affected by certain habits. Here are some lifestyle factors that may aggravate PMS symptoms:

  • Smoking
  • Consuming a lot of fat, sugar, and salt-containing foods
  • Physical inactivity
  • Sleep deprivation

According to 2018 research, alcohol use may also increase PMS risk. PMS symptoms are more likely to occur if you drink heavily or binge drink on a regular basis.

PMS relief

It is impossible to cure PMS, but you can relieve its symptoms. When you suffer from mild to moderate and severe premenstrual syndrome, you may benefit from these PMS treatments:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to relieve abdominal bloating
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day to boost your nutrition and energy, and cut down on sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol intake, as well as.
  • Take Supplement like vitamin B-6, folic acid, magnesium and calcium to alleviate cramping and mood swings
  • Vitamin D supplements may also help.
  • Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night to stay healthy
  • Engaging in regular exercise to reduce bloating and improve mental health
  • Attending cognitive behavioral therapy, known for its effectiveness

Follow the above steps to get PMS relief. You can also take pain medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to relieve stomach cramps, muscle aches, and headaches.

A diuretic can also be used to prevent water weight gain and bloating. Consult your doctor before taking any medications or supplements.

You can buy these products online:

  • Folic acid supplements
  • Vitamin B-6 supplements
  • Calcium supplements
  • Magnesium supplements
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin

Read: Expressive Language Disorder

Severe PMS: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

It is rare to experience severe PMS symptoms. A few women suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It is estimated that 3% to 8% of women suffer from PMDD. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recently released its new edition that describes this.

PMDD symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Panic attacks
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Anger with severe mood swings
  • Crying spells
  • Lack of interest in everyday activities
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Binge eating
  • Painful cramping
  • Bloating

The symptoms of PMDD may be caused by fluctuations in both progesterone and estrogen levels. Serotonin deficiency may also contribute to PMDD.

To rule out other medical conditions, your doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Physical exam
  • Gynecological exam
  • Complete blood count
  • Liver function test

A psychiatric evaluation may also be recommended. PMDD symptoms can be triggered or worsened by a history of major depression, trauma, substance abuse or stress.

It is difficult to determine the best treatment for PMDD. The following may be recommended by your doctor:

  • Daily exercise
  • Vitamin supplements like magnesium, vitamin B-6 and calcium
  • Caffeine-free diet
  • Individual or group counseling
  • Stress management classes

Drospirenone and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets (Yaz) can be taken to treat PMDD symptoms, the only birth control pill approved by the FDA.

A doctor may recommend that you take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) if your PMDD symptoms do not improve. As a serotonin-stimulating medication, it assists in regulating brain chemistry in different ways other than depression, including increasing levels of serotonin in your brain.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can provide you with insight into your emotions and thoughts by helping you to change your behavior, which is what your doctor may suggest.

PMDD and PMS aren’t preventable, but you can reduce their severity and duration with the treatments outlined above.

Read: Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

Is PMS associated with other health problems?

PMS can worsen other health problems that women have before their period, which may become worse during PMS. There are many health problems that have symptoms similar to PMS, such as:

  • Depression and anxiety disorders. PMS overlaps with these conditions most commonly. It is possible for depression or anxiety symptoms to worsen before or during your period, and they may be similar to PMS symptoms.
  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Prior to their period, some women report getting worse symptoms. ME/CFS patients may also experience heavy menstrual bleeding and premature menopause, according to research.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The symptoms of IBS include cramps, bloating, and gas. There is a possibility that your IBS symptoms will get worse just before your period.
  • Bladder pain syndrome. PMS cramps are more likely to be experienced by women with bladder pain syndrome.

There is also the possibility that PMS can aggravate asthma, allergies or migraines.

Long-term outlook

Symptoms of PMS and PMDD may recur but typically disappear with menstruation. Most women can reduce or eliminate their symptoms with a healthy lifestyle and comprehensive treatment plan.

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