Premenstrual Syndrome which is commonly known as PMS includes a bunch of physical and psychological symptoms that occur in menstruating women before the bleeding starts. The time, symptoms as well as severity of PMS vary extensively from one woman to another and it can also vary from month to month. PMS symptoms vary widely and around 90% of women in the childbearing age experience these symptoms to different intensities.
Usually the PMS symptoms tend to occur cyclically in case of a particular women but it can also vary from time to time depending on a lot of factors, such as increased stress, improper diet, weight gain, anemia and others. PMS symptoms may start to appear 2 weeks before the date of menstruation, but it also varies extensively. While some women might find the PMS syndrome particularly unbearable, for some it is only mild that continues for just 1 or 2 days before the bleeding starts.
The exact reasons of severe premenstrual syndrome in some women have not yet been identified but it might be linked to several factors. Starting from lifestyle, overall physical health to over or less sexual activity, all might or might not have an effect on the severity of PMS in women.
The reason of PMS
As already mentioned the exact reason of PMS has not yet been identified and often the symptoms of this syndrome have been marked as vague by many researchers. However, though the exact cause of PMS is unknown, it seems to have relation with the changing hormonal levels in the body before starting of menstruation. In order to prepare the body for menstruation a number of critical hormonal changes occur in the female body. The primary hormones taking part in controlling menstruation in women are estrogen and progesterone. Fluctuation of these hormones in the body has been linked with most of the premenstrual symptoms.
What are the symptoms of PMS?
It is important that every woman is aware about the common premenstrual symptoms because awareness is the first step to better management of these symptoms. The best way to diagnose PMS is to identify the symptoms. However, these symptoms might overlap with other health problems and hence often doctors opt for a thorough health check up to ensure that there are no other underlying health issues that might create similar symptoms,before diagnosing PMS. Here are the common premenstrual symptoms that most of the women of childbearing age experience to varied extent before menstruation starts,
Tenderness of breasts
Tenderness of breasts is a very common premenstrual symptom that is often experienced by women from 1-2 weeks before the date of period. The severity of the tenderness varies from person to person and also it can change from month to month.
Swelling of belly
Gaining few more inches around your belly is another common premenstrual symptom. This can be a result of increased water retention in the body before the date of menstruation. One of the easy ways to control this problem is to reduce salt intake during this time as salt add to more water retention in the body.
Bloating and digestive problems are often aggravated in women before menstruation. If you have digestive issues and bloating problems, you might experience a severe increase in these issues before your period dates. The best way to control the problem is to shift to a healthy diet that is stuffed with dietary fibers and easy digestible nutrients.
Sudden feelings of fatigue can be a symptom of PMS. If you are feeling tired after going through your usual daily course in particular days of the month it can be a premenstrual symptom. However, in that case, it will repeat cyclically and you need to keep a note to ensure that there are no other health issues causing the fatigue.
Mood swings is a very common symptom of PMS. Often women experience extreme mood swings before their period dates. Usually these mood swings reach a peak few days before the bleeding starts and then dissipates slowly as you start to menstruate. Anxiety, irritability, tearfulness, sessions of crying are some of the common PMS symptoms related to mood swings.
Food craving/Lack of appetite
Excessive craving for food or completely lack of appetite both can be symptoms of PMS. Like the other symptoms of PMS, this one can also vary from women to women and from month to month.
Trouble in focusing
Many women suffering from the symptoms of PMS complain about trouble in focusing, which might or might not work as a hindrance in their professional life. However, normally, this symptom is not very severe in most of the women.
Headaches and backaches
You can also have sudden headaches and backaches as symptoms of PMS. The problem might or might not persist for long in a day and usually strikes right before the start of menstruation.
How to diagnose PMS?
There are no single tests or process to diagnose PMS. If you are suffering from any, some or all of the above symptoms cyclically, from 1-2 weeks before your date of menstruation, it might be due to PMS. To ensure that the symptoms are caused due to PMS, your doctor might suggest you to opt for some tests for thyroid diseases.
Thyroid diseases can produce symptoms similar to that of PMS and hence to ensure that your problems are not caused due to some other underlying health issues, checking for the thyroid diseases can be an effective step. Your gynecologist might even suggest you for a thorough blood test to ensure that you are not suffering from anemia or any other kind of deficiency that might trigger similar symptoms or can exaggerate the PMS.
To confirm that your problems are caused due to PMS, after negating the chances of other conditions, your doctor might suggest you to maintain a journal of the symptoms by date, which can work as the most important document to understand if the symptoms are cyclical in nature and are occurring during the last two weeks of your menstrual cycle.
Treatments for PMS
Sadly, there are no direct treatments for curing PMS. All that your doctor can do for your relief is to treat the symptoms that you are experiencing. However, you can bring a lot of positive change in your PMS problems by changing your lifestyle and eating habits. Being aware about the fact that the problems are temporary and will go away quickly once the period starts can be a great relief in itself. The best ways to deal with the premenstrual syndrome or PMS include,
Awareness can be the best help to treat PMS
Once you are able to identify your symptoms as PMS you will be much better able to deal with them. Keeping a diary to note down your monthly PMS symptoms can make it much easier for you to handle the problems by making necessary changes to your lifestyle. For example, staying away from physically strenuous activities and opting for a healthy diet when the common PMS symptoms like fatigue and bloating are expected to start, can be most helpful to minimize them. Maintaining a monthly diary will also make it much easier to keep a regular track of the severity of your PMS symptoms and it will be easier for you to notice any other sudden changes in the symptoms, which can be a key to identify any other physical problems.
The right diet can improve PMS symptoms
Diet plays a very important role even in treating PMS. Diet that is high in nutrients like B vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin E, can be of great help to cure many of the common symptoms of PMS. B vitamins help in mood elevation, which can treat the problem of mood swings to a significant extent. Calcium and Magnesium can also be helpful to improve lack of concentration. A diet high in complex carbohydrate is often suggested for easing the symptoms of PMS. Staying away from a rich diet, junk foods, alcohol can also be helpful to ease out the symptoms.
Exercise can be the key to deal PMS problems
You might not actually feel like opting for exercise when you are already feeling down due to symptoms of PMS, but if you can make yourself to go for even light exercise for 15 minutes a day, it will certainly help with the PMS problems. Exercising triggers the secretion of feel good hormone in the body, which helps in elevating mood and overall health as a whole. Exercising regularly can improve your overall health, which can reduce the severity of PMS to a great extent. Opting for Yoga and meditation can also be helpful to treat the symptoms of PMS effectively and to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Medications for treating PMS
As already mentioned, the medications actually target the symptoms of PMS and not the condition itself. For relieving pain, cramps and tenderness due to PMS you might be prescribed with some painkiller and light muscle relaxants. In case of severe depression or anxiety due to PMS, medications of depression can be suggested. Oral contraceptives are also given to ease the PMS problems as a whole. However, continuing with these medications every month might have other side effects and hence it is best to control the symptoms of PMS through other ways as mentioned above rather than depending on medications completely.