Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): All to Know

Premenstrual Syndrome

What is Premenstrual Syndrome?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common condition that affects a woman’s emotions, physical health, and behavior during certain days before her menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms usually begins from about 5 to 11 days before menstruation and normally ends once menstruation starts. For doctors to correctly diagnose PMS, it must affect some aspect of your life.
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Causes of PMS

The cause of premenstrual syndrome is yet unknown. However, researchers suspect it is caused by the change in both hormone and serotonin (a chemical in your brain and gut that affects your moods, emotions, and thoughts) levels at the start of menstrual cycle.
Normally the levels of estrogen and progesterone increase during certain times of the month and a surge in these hormones can lead to mood swings, irritability, and anxiety. Also, ovarian steroids modulate activity in parts of your brain linked with premenstrual symptoms.
Risk factors for premenstrual syndrome include:
  • Family history of PMS
  • Physical and/or emotional trauma
  • History of depression or mood disorders
  • a family history of depression
  • substance abuse
  • domestic violence
Associated conditions include:
  • schizophrenia
  • dysmenorrhea
  • major depressive disorder
  • seasonal affective disorder
  • generalized anxiety disorder

Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

A woman’s menstrual cycle lasts an average of 28 days. On the day 14 of the menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs. Ovulation is the period when an egg is released from the ovaries. PMS symptoms can begin around day 14 and last until seven days after the start of menstruation.
The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are usually mild or moderate. The symptoms of PMS include:
  • sores
  • abdominal bloating
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • acne
  • food cravings, especially for sweets
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • sensitivity to light or sound
  • depression
  • emotional outbursts
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • anxiety
READ ALSO: Causes of a Missed Period When Pregnancy Test is Negative

When to see your doctor

If physical pain, mood swings, and other symptoms start to affect your daily life, consult your doctor. To diagnose premenstrual syndrome (PMS), you must have more than one recurring symptom in the correct time frame that is severe enough to cause impairment and is absent between menses and ovulation.
Other conditions like IBS, pregnancy, and hypothyroidism have similar symptoms to PMS. So, your doctor may ask about any history of depression or mood disorders in your family to determine whether your symptoms are the result of PMS or another condition.
Tests your doctor may order include:
  • Thyroid hormone test. This is to ensure that your thyroid gland is working properly
  • Pelvic exam. To check for any gynecological problems
  • Pregnancy test
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To help your doctor correctly diagnose your condition, keep a diary of your symptoms using a calendar to keep track of your menstruation every month. PMS may be diagnosed if your symptoms start around the same time each month.

Treatment for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

There is no cure for PMS, but the symptoms can be managed by observing some steps. If you have a mild or moderate form of premenstrual syndrome, the treatment options include:
  • drink lots of fluids to ease abdominal bloating
  • take vitamin D to ease symptoms
  • eat a balanced diet to improve your overall health and energy level
  • reduce your intake of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol
  • engage in exercise to decrease bloating and improve mental health
  • take calcium, folic acid, and vitamin B-6 supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
  • sleep at least eight hours per night to reduce fatigue
  • reduce stress, such as through exercising and reading
  • Try a diuretic to stop bloating and water weight gain as directed by your doctor.
  • go to cognitive behavioral therapy
Take pain medication, such as ibuprofen or aspirin to ease muscle aches, headaches, and stomach cramping.
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Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (Severe PMS)

Symptoms of severe premenstrual syndrome, also called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, are rare. The symptoms of PMDD may include:
  • insomnia
  • binge eating
  • bloating
  • crying spells
  • painful cramping
  • depression
  • suicidal thoughts
  • trouble focusing
  • panic attacks
  • extreme anxiety
  • anger with severe mood swings
  • a lack of interest in daily activities
The symptoms of PMDD may occur due to changes in your estrogen and progesterone levels. A connection between low serotonin levels and PMDD also causes this condition.
Your doctor may do the following to rule out other medical problems:
  • a physical exam
  • a gynecological exam
  • a complete blood count
  • a liver function test
They may also recommend a psychiatric evaluation. A personal or family history of major depression, substance abuse, trauma, or stress can trigger or worsen PMDD symptoms.
READ ALSO: Possible Causes of Heavy Menstrual Period
Treatment for PMDD varies. Your doctor may recommend:
  • a diet free of caffeine
  • daily exercise
  • vitamin supplements, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B-6
  • individual or group counseling
  • drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol tablet (Yaz)
  • attending classes on stress management
If your PMDD symptoms still persists, your doctor may give you a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant to increase serotonin levels in your brain and regulate brain chemistry that are not limited to depression.
Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.

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