The cramps, the cravings and the escalating mood swings that come with periods is trouble! To some, it even gets worse that they even cry or get depressed over a little something. The symptoms are sometimes so severe that women do think of doing harm to themselves or commit suicide. Yes, this is normal and bout 45% of women in their reproductive age agree to have experienced one or more of these symptoms about a week or two before their period. These symptoms are collectively known as Premenstrual Syndrome, PMS.
Premenstrual Syndrome is a combination of symptoms of change in mood and emotions, physical health and behavior that develop between ovulation and at the start of your period. These symptoms last until a few days after your period begin and usually show up consistently each month. Contrary to what some people may suggest, Premenstrual Syndrome is a real condition, one that can disrupt daily life and cause significant physical discomfort and emotional distress.
Over 90% of women who experience PMS get emotional and behavioral symptoms that include; anxiety, restlessness, irritability, increased food cravings, changes in sleep patterns, a sad or low mood, rapid shifts in mood and psychic out bursts, decreased sex drive and difficulty concentrating or remember information. Physical health symptoms include; abdominal bloating, cramping, sore and swollen breasts, acne, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, back and muscle pain, unusual sensitivity to light and unusual clumsiness.
For centuries, the cause of Premenstrual Syndrome still remains a mystery. However some research suggests some causes like;
- Cyclic changes in hormonal levels. These are estrogen (female hormone) and progesterone (the conception hormone). These hormones naturally fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle.
- Chemical changes in the brain. The neurotransmitters Serotonin and norepinephrine are mood regulators.
- Lifestyle factors like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating foods high in fat, sugar and salt, lack of physical activity and lack of quality sleep.
For some people, the symptoms may resolve without any intervention especially if they are mild. However there are some activities that may improve quality of life during an episode of PMS; these include, exercising regularly, eating a healthy balanced diet, eating frequent small meals, getting quality sleep (7-8 hours), reduce stress by doing yoga and meditation and reduce caffeine intake.
Medical interventions include Calcium supplementation of up to 1200mg, Magnesium, pain killers like ibuprofen and paracetamol and hormonal birth controls.
Some conditions like Depression, anxiety, Perimenopause, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and thyroid disease might mimic PMS. Therefore a thorough diagnosis would help to intervene at the right time.
- com/health/premenstrual syndrome.
- org/women’s-health/faqs/ premenstrual syndrome.
- nhs.uk/conditions/premenstrual syndrome.