Premenstrual Syndrome

31 Jul
By Amelia Smith

Premenstrual syndrome is often referred as PMS, is a medical condition that affects women. It can lead to a range of physical and psychological symptoms before your monthly menstrual cycle.


The hormonal cycling has an effect on the levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that regulates several functions such as mood swings and pain sensitivity among others. Women may have lower levels of serotonin in their brain prior to their periods thereby leading to depression, irritability and other symptoms.

Causes of PMS:

While the exact reason of PMS is not yet clear, experts link it to fluctuating progesterone and estrogen levels in the body as it prepares itself for menstruation. The symptoms can become more severe in the couple of days prior to the date of the period and usually goes away within the first two days of the flow.

Symptoms of PMS

There are several symptoms of the condition. The severity of the symptoms  of PMS varies from one woman to another, and also sometimes from one month to another. Some of the most common symptoms are:

•    Increased weight

•    Bloating

•    Tenderness in the breasts and abdomen pain

•    Concentration issues

•    Headaches/backaches

•    Fatigue

•    Food cravings

•    Crying easily

•    Mood swings

•    Anxiety

Almost 85% of the women experience some symptom or the other and around 2-10% experience severe symptoms before the start of their monthly cycle.

Managing PMS

PMS cannot be prevented but with more awareness and proper treatment of the symptoms, you can find relief. Following a healthy lifestyle – good diet, exercise, and adequate sleep – can help a woman to manage better their PMS symptoms.

Education – A better understanding of your PMS symptoms will help you to deal with the same better. You can keep a journal to note down how you feel on the days leading to your period. A menstrual diary is a very helpful diagnostic tool for PMS.

While these symptoms can vary from one month to another, it will give you a good idea of how you are affected by the periods. Knowing that it will go away soon and that you will begin to feel better once the periods start can make you feel stressful and be patient with yourself. If you experience severe symptoms, you can go for medication/counselling.

Healthy diet – Good food is essential for overall health. Make sure to take foods that have plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Decrease the intake of salt, sugar and caffeine in your diet.

Exercise – A daily regimen of exercises can do wonder for your health and help you to handle your PMS symptoms better.

Medications – Some medical treatments for PMS include painkillers, diuretics, oral contraceptives, and antidepressants. Your doctor can assess your symptoms to suggest a medicine for you.

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Premenstrual Syndrome Treatment

If your symptoms are severe, you can consider visiting your doctor. The doctor will inquire about the symptoms and the time of their occurrence every month. The records give the doctor a better understanding of the symptoms. No lab tests are ordered for PMS. However, the doctor may recommend blood tests to remove the possibility of other illnesses. Imaging tests are also sometimes ordered for the same purpose.

You can take pain medication, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, to reduce headaches, muscle aches, and stomach cramping. A diuretic can help to stop bloating. It is important to take medication only as directed by your doctor.

As many different things can cause PMS, the treatments methods to varying widely and include quite a few medical as well as alternative approaches. There are many home remedies too that can be followed to ease your symptoms before your period. If your symptoms do not go away within a few days of the start of your period, consult your doctor for a proper PMS diagnosis. It may be a pointer to a different health problem.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD)

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD) is a severe form of PMS that happens in a small number of women and which can severely impair the life of a person. Some of the symptoms are:

•    Depression

•    Suicidal

•    Anger

•    Panic attacks

•    Crying spells

•    Lack of interest in life

•    Sleeplessness

•    Food cravings

•    Painful cramping

•    Extreme anxiety


 Just as PMS, the symptoms of PMD can be due to changes in your hormone levels. A family history of depression, trauma, stress or substance abuse can worsen the symptoms. Treatment for PMD varies from one person to another and depends on the symptoms. After a PMS diagnosis, your doctor may recommend a diet rich in magnesium, calcium and vitamin B6; a regimen of exercises; counselling; and stress management classes. Some medications might also be prescribed to treat it better.

 Also Read: The importance of Vitamin D in your everyday life

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Amelia Smith

Nutritionist, herbalist, health and medicine writer and yoga enthusiast, Amelia Smith, is a professional in the health, nutrition and diet industry.

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