Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual Syndrome

85 percent of women are bothered by at least one physical or emotional symptom between ovulation and menstruation. When these symptoms interfere with your normal activities and interaction, it is called Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS.

Because of the complexity of women’s endocrine systems, researchers still don’t know exactly why some women suffer from PMS and some don’t. It can hit women at any time before menopause, frequently changing in intensity and severity over time. Typically, it is the most severe in women in their twenties and thirties. Because it is associated with ovulation, women who are pregnant, taking birth-control pills, and in menopause do not experience PMS. However, there are similar hormone-related symptoms that can affect women who are not ovulating.

Symptoms

Symptoms can vary month to month; they can be aggravated by environmental factors such as stress and illness. There are over 150 identified symptoms of PMS. Some of the most common are headache, fatigue, bloating, weight gain and water-retention, swollen and tender breasts, depression and anxiety, mood swings, muscle cramps, acne, food cravings, decreased libido, and disruption in sleep patterns.

If you have severe emotional changes, including depression, anxiety, and irritability, that affect your work and relationships, you may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a more severe form of PMS.

PMS also aggravates other conditions such as migraines, chronic pain, and depression.

Treatment

PMS cannot be cured. Some ways that it can be treated and alleviated at home are by taking calcium and vitamin B6, reducing caffeine, sugar, and sodium intake, reducing stress, exercising, and using over-the-counter pain relievers to cope with headache, cramping, and other PMS-related pain.

New research is showing that calcium is especially important in treating PMS symptoms. Women who are experiencing symptoms should try to increase their calcium intake, especially during the time between ovulation and menstruation.

Medication

SSRI antidepressants taken during the time between ovulation and menstruation or constantly can relieve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. This is especially useful for those suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder, as that has a greater tendency to disrupt their lives.

Birth control pills, although once commonly prescribed for the relief of PMS symptoms, are not consistent in their ability to treat PMS. Frequently the prescription can even aggravate symptoms. The best option is to try home-treatment; if the symptoms are still severe, talk to your doctor about SSRIs.

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