Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS as it is more commonly known, is a condition that affects women of all ages who are in their childbearing years. This means that the common myth that adolescents suffer more from dysmenorrhea and women in their 20s and older are suffer more from PMS is not necessarily true. Findings from a study totaling 94 girls aging 13 to 18 years validated 17 symptoms of premenstrual syndrome in a total of 31 percent of those reporting.
At this point some researchers estimate that up to 80 percent of menstrating women under the age of 20 experience the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Unfortunately these symptoms are often overlooked because of the individuals age and because the mood swings, irritability and anxiety are attributed to teenage angst as opposed to a diagnosis of premenstrual syndrome.
However, teenagers who experience these symptoms in a pattern of depression, physical discomfort or unruly and disruptive behavior which declines or disappears when menses begins may actually be experiencing premenstrual syndrome. The research has also shown that teenage girls will suffer the same symptoms as older females which is an explosive combination with normal teenage behavioral changes.
Teenage girls who experience premenstrual syndrome will also find that their behavior affects their family. Parents of teens who have PMS report increased tension in the home and a deterioration of family relationships during the daughters weeks prior to menstruation. Other symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia and lack of concentration can also negatively impact educational and afterschool activities.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome that affects not only women but also teenage girls. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of women who experienced PMS also experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder. If you believe you may fall into this category you should seek medical advice because treatment is available and there is no reason to suffer in silence. Also, ongoing depression or aggressive behavior in teenage girls can be symptoms of other more serious conditions than premenstrual syndrome. Avoiding diagnosis or a lack of treatment for an underlying medical condition can have significant negative consequences for teenagers future health.
Other signs and symptoms of premenstrual disorder in teenagers includes bloating and weight gain, tension, anxiety or crying spells, depression, breast tenderness, fruit cravings, joint or muscle pain and nausea or vomiting. Teenage girls can also suffer from headaches, trouble with concentration and fatigue.
Teenagers do have some things that they can do in order to alleviate or avoid their symptoms of PMS. One thing is to eat correctly. While it may take several months for some affects to be visible by taking small steps now there will be large differences in the near future. Teens should eat more frequently but make the portions smaller, take at least 1200 mg of calcium per day, 200 mg of magnesium per day and eat lots of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. It’s important to cut out salt, caffeine and alcohol as they increase irritability and breast tenderness.
Exercise is an important adjunct for treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Aerobic exercise of 20 to 30 minutes three times a week will help to boost overall health and well-being and can reduce feelings of fatigue, depression and moodiness.
If a teenager believes that she may be suffering from premenstrual syndrome then it’s important to keep a notebook of the symptoms-what they are, when they occur, for how long, when they go away and on a scale of one to 10 how they make you feel. Then when you see the advice of your healthcare provider you have an accurate calendar of events from which to begin your discussions about premenstrual syndrome.
Kidshealth: Coping with Common Period Problems
Epigee Womens Health: Teenage PMS
Massachusetts General Hospital: Teen PMS and PMDD Guide