Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a disorder that is triggered by hormonal changes in a woman’s body that takes place approximately two weeks before the onset of her menstrual period. These hormonal changes cause disturbing, chaotic symptoms in a woman.
There are over 35 million women that suffer from PMS and some cases are so severe that approximately 5 million women require treatment with the use of medications. This medication will help a woman suffering from PMS to control any behavioral or mood problems. Once a woman has started her period these symptoms will gradually decrease in severity until the next time.
There are many, many symptoms that can be blamed on PMS. Some women will cry inconsolably, where others will scream and be in distress. There are women who will state that they feel “out of character” and unable to control themselves, although the most common symptoms are an increase in fatigue and headaches.
The physical, as well as emotional symptoms can include aches and pains, headaches, fatigue, bloating, cramping, constipation, and/or weight gain. Emotionally, a woman may have feelings of depression, panic, anxiety, irritability, and/or a lack of interest in sexual activity.
Additional symptoms could include nausea, diarrhea, tender breasts, sleeping too much or sleeping too little, cravings for a particular type of food, dizziness, heart palpitations, skin disturbances, such as acne, or a dry or greasy texture to their hair. These symptoms could occur with each and every menstrual cycle or you could skip a few cycles and be just fine.
Why women suffer from PMS is unknown other than hormonal changes or why some cases are worse than others. There is some suspicion that PMS is caused by chemical brain changes. The hormonal changes that take place are believed to be estrogen changes at that time of a women’s monthly cycle.
Some things that a women can do to help herself during this disruptive time is to eat several, small, healthy meals each day, and take a multivitamin to make up any missed nutrients in the diet. Other suggestions that will help with the PMS symptoms are exercise and stress reduction.
Medications for severe cases are used in some instances. These medications would include psychotropic drug administration. Diagnosing PMS is difficult and done based primarily on symptoms. Most likely your doctor will ask you to keep a diary of your symptoms during your menstrual cycle in helping to diagnose your condition.
Many women have symptoms that are noted in PMS before and during their menstrual cycle. However, PMS is not a real issue unless it interferes with your activities of daily living.
If you are having any symptoms relating to your menstrual cycle as noted above and they seem to disrupt your daily life it is important not only physically, but mentally to seek the advice and guidance of your physician in order to get the help that you need with this condition.
MayoClinic: Premenstrual Syndrome
Massachusetts General Hospital: PMS and PMDD
Massachusetts General Hospital: PMS and PMDD: Guide for Teens
Christianne Northrup: Premenstrual Syndrome
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Premenstrual Syndrome
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: Managing Premenstrual Symptoms
WomensHealth.gov: Premenstrual Syndrome Fact Sheet