Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, directly correlates with your menstrual cycle. Symptoms can occur up to 2 weeks prior to your menstrual cycle. Once menstruation begins, most symptoms subside. Here we discuss the reasons PMS occurs, treatment options and the symptoms commonly experienced by women.
What Causes PMS?
Although the causes of PMS aren't clear, scientists speculate that several factors may contribute to the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. During the menstrual cycle, your hormones fluctuate, causing chemical changes in the body. These changes can cause a plethora of symptoms, including mood swings, insomnia and skin problems.
How Diet Can Affect Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms
Your diet can also affect the severity of your symptoms. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can cause a host of problems, including fatigue, muscle pain, emotional disturbances and skin problems. Many women often crave salty foods, which can cause edema. Finally, caffeine and alcohol can alter energy levels and emotional responses.
The symptoms of PMS vary from woman to woman, so to determine which symptoms are related to PMS and which are related to another health condition can be difficult. Keeping a journal of symptoms for a couple of months can help you ascertain whether your symptoms are related to hormonal fluctuation or another cause.
- Skin Conditions
PMS can cause changes in your skin. When the hormones in your body swing from one extreme to another, you may experience skin eruptions, including acne, rashes, itching and oily skin. About a week before menstruation begins, estrogen levels plummet and testosterone levels increase causing skin troubles.
- Emotional Disturbances
Emotional disturbances, insomnia, fatigue and anxiety are some of the most common symptoms of PMS. Many women experience crying episodes, depression and feelings of despair. Soon after menstruation begins these emotional and sleep disturbances subside.
- Physical Problems
A plethora of physical manifestations can occur right before your period. Your breasts may become tender and swollen. You may experience digestion issues, including constipation, diarrhea, bloating and upset stomach. Pain can occur throughout the body. Women may experience headaches, back pain, along with muscle pain and achy joints.
Women can make lifestyle changes to help alleviate the symptoms of PMS. Additionally, prescription and over the counter medicines can help ease your suffering. Finally, several natural alternative therapies can also help ease symptoms.
- Lifestyle modification is your first line of defense against premenstrual syndrome. Getting enough exercise, taking supplements, controlling your diet and using stress management techniques can all help you cope with PMS
- Physical activity is not only good for the body, but it is also good for the emotions. If you experience fatigue, bloating, insomnia, depression or body pains, exercising at least 30 minutes daily can help. For best results, choose activities that get your heart pumping, such as running, biking, swimming or power walking.
- If you suffer from fatigue or depression, a calcium supplement can help. For best results, take 500 milligrams of calcium with breakfast and dinner to supply your body with the nutrients it needs to regulate your hormones. If you prefer to get your calcium naturally, eat a diet filled with dairy products and dark, green leafy vegetables.
- Another common mineral menstruating women need is iron. Because of the blood loss that occurs every month, many women experience anemia. Iron is necessary for hemoglobin production, the building blocks of blood.
- Vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin C also help prevent anemia. Vitamin B12 helps the body convert food into energy. This vitamin aids in the production of red blood cells and helps the bone marrow regenerate. Folic acid helps the cells to rapidly divide and grow. Additionally, this vitamin helps to synthesize and repair DNA and RNA. Finally, the body requires vitamin C to absorb iron.
During the weeks leading up to your period, there are certain foods you should avoid. Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume. These two substances can increase your nervousness, insomnia and anxiety.
You will also want to avoid excess sweets if you suffer from PMS. Sugary treats, candy and sodas can cause blood sugar fluctuations, resulting in hot flashes, mood swings and fatigue.
Finally, you should avoid excess sodium. Limit the amount of sodium you consume to no more than 150 micrograms a day. Too much salt can cause the body to retain fluid. This excess fluid, also known as edema, causes bloating and pain.
Learning how to manage stress using a variety of relaxation techniques can help you overcome the emotional issues often experienced during PMS. Yoga, group therapy, meditation and deep breathing techniques have been shown to effectively manage mood swings and depression.
Prescription and Over the Counter Medications
There are numerous over the counter and prescription medication to alleviate PMS issues. You can use NSAIDs to help relieve cramps, breast tenderness, headaches and backaches. NSAIDs pain relievers include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. Each of these medications can be found in the pain relief section of your local pharmacy.
If you suffer from severe PMS, your physician may recommend a prescription medication to stop ovulation. Birth control pills are often the prescribed medication of choice. They have been shown to lighten periods and lessen the symptoms associated with PMS, including cramps, mood swings and headaches.
Numerous alternative therapies are used to help prevent and control PMS. Herbal formulas containing black cohosh, evening primrose oil and Chasteberry are often recommended by doctors specializing in naturopathy. Black cohosh is used to treat insomnia and irritability. Likewise, evening primrose oil contains pain relieving phenylalanies to relieve headaches, muscle pains, cramps and back pain. Finally, Chasteberry relieves breast pain, headaches, constipation and mood swings.
PMS affects thousands of women each month. Premenstrual syndrome can affect any menstruating female. Symptoms can range from mild irritations to debilitating. Learning the symptoms of PMS and the treatment options available can help you better deal with the aches, pains and emotional disturbances associated with PMS.