Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a menstrual cycle disorder that affects women in the reproductive age group. It consists of a set of physical and emotional symptoms that severely impact the quality of life. PMS occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (two to three weeks before the periods) when the estrogen and progesterone levels are high and are working hard to prepare the uterine lining for fertilization.
The cause of PMS is poorly understood, but the cyclical changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during this phase trigger the symptoms. Mood changes are attributable to the effects the hormones have on the serotonin and dopamine systems. Each woman has her own unique experience of PMS. Some may not experience it at all, some may experience only the physical symptoms, and some may experience a combination of both types of symptoms.
The physical symptoms of PMS are:
Headache, Backache, muscle and joint pain
Tiredness and fatigue
Sore and painful breasts (mastalgia)
Bloating and weight gain
The emotional symptoms of PMS are:
Irritability, angry outbursts
Forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating
Social withdrawal, lack of motivation
How to Manage PMS symptoms
The most crucial thing is to be aware of the
changes that your body goes through. Do not ignore the sudden shift in emotions, the increase in emotional sensitivity; getting out of the wrong side of the bed is not always the reason for every negative emotion you feel. Be mindful of every change in your behavior. Keeping track of your menstrual cycle will also guide you in identifying any symptoms of PMS. Recording your symptoms and recognizing when you experience them will help in effective
management during the next menstrual cycle.
Manage a healthy diet and exercise regularly;
this will decrease your risk and reduce the
severity of symptoms. Getting a goodnight's
sleep and maintaining sleep hygiene will ensure
that your mind and body are well-rested. Studies
have found that women who experience PMS symptoms
have particular vitamin and mineral deficiencies
such as Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Calcium, and
Magnesium. Supplementing with these vitamins
are known to reduce the severity of PMS symptoms.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) occurs when the behavioral symptoms of PMS become severe and unmanageable that it starts disrupting one's quality of life. If PMDD occurs, it is vital to seek professional help as antidepressants may be helpful. Birth control pills may be useful for some women experiencing PMDD.
An alternative to birth control pills is the more natural bioidentical hormones. Bioidentical hormones are derived from plant estrogens that are chemically identical to the hormones a human body produces. Intake of bioidentical hormones is also known to lessen the symptoms of PMS. They assist in the restoration of hormonal balance and maintain the regularity of the menstrual cycle. By preventing the sudden shift in hormonal levels, bioidentical hormones reduce the occurrence of PMS symptoms.
Personally, my extreme cravings for chocolate is a harbinger of my menstrual cycle. Along with the intense desire for chocolatey goodness, I also experience subtle mood changes. It took me some time to recognize these elusive yet significant changes. And once I became well-acquainted with my body, I was able to deal with it. Despite our shared biology, each one of us will experience PMS differently. It is crucial to be cognizant and to be able to identify the changes our mind and body go through before every menstrual cycle.
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