PMS - Premenstrual Syndrome
PMS is a complicated
condition suffered by many women to a greater or lesser
degree for up to 2 weeks before they menstruate. This
condition is characterized by a set of hormonal changes
and some women even require medical treatment for their
mood and/or behavioral changes. PMS is the source of
many a joke by a stand up comic but to the sufferer,
the condition can often be far from a joke.
What are the symptoms of PMS?
It is said that PMS can give rise to over 150 different
symptoms such as anxiety, depression, crying spells,
headache, fatigue, irritability, panic attacks, tension
lack of coordination, altered libido, a decrease in
the ability to perform either at work or socially,
fluid retention, constipation, painful joints, backache,
abdominal cramping, heart palpitations, bloating and
weight gain. And that is only about 20 symptoms. It
is estimated that at least 85% of all menstruating
women have at least one PMS symptom as part of their
monthly cycle while a small percentage (about 5%)
have a more severe form of PMS called Premenstrual
Although women most frequently complain about headaches
and fatigues during those days before the onset of
the next menstrual period, their symptoms may vary
from month to month and some months there may be no
symptoms at all.,
Although the causes of PMS are not 100% clear, the
condition is linked to the changing hormones during
the menstrual cycle and some women are affected more
than others. The female hormone estrogen is a strong
factor here. Estrogen starts to rise after menstruation
and peaks around mid cycle. It then drops rapidly
only to slowly rise and then fall again, all in the
time before menstruation. Estrogen has the tendency
to hold fluid and with increasing estrogen, there
is extra fluid retention with women complaining about
weight gains of up to 5 pounds at this time. Although
stress and emotional problems are not the cause of
PMS, they can aggravate the condition.
Although it is thought that heredity may play a part,
symptoms can vary between sisters or between a mother
and her daughters. Some women experience a burst of
energy prior to the worst symptoms of their PMS, where
they tend to go on a cleaning mission and can operate
with less sleep than usual.
What is the treatment for PMS?
There are several ways in which you can make changes
in your lifestyle to help you feel better if PMS is
a problem for you:
o A daily multivitamin supplement that includes at
least 400 micrograms of folic acid plus a calcium
supplement including Vitamin D should help with several
o Regular exercise – aerobics, jogging, cycling,
walking or swimming are particularly beneficial.
o A healthy diet including fruits, vegetables and
o The avoidance of salt, fats, sugary foods, caffeine
o If you change to six small meals at regularly 3
hour intervals, this helps to maintain a steady blood
glucose level while avoiding energy highs and lows.
o Plenty of rest and sleep – a good 8 hours
per night is recommended.
o No smoking.
o Learn to relax and unwind.
o Use an over-the-counter pain reliever if that helps.
If you feel that none of these suggestions is helping,
then it is wise to seek medical advice as there are
prescription medications that your doctor can give
you to help the condition. Keep notes of all the different
symptoms you are experiencing together with their
duration and severity during the days leading up to
your menstruation so you have a written report to
discuss with your doctor.
Remember PMS is a real condition of which your healthcare
provider is only too aware. Sometimes you have to
make sure your family understands as well.