What is Premenstrual Syndrome?
Premenstrual syndrome (also referred to as PMS or PMT) is a condition defined by a set of hormonal changes that cause troublesome symptoms in many women one or two weeks before the onset of their menstrual cycle. A combination of physical, emotional and psychological symptoms are experienced ranging from abdominal bloating, fatigue, breast tenderness and headaches to mood swings, depression or crying.
It is estimated that approximately 80% of women suffer from PMS, and it is more common in women between their late 20s and early 40s. For the majority of women, symptoms are experienced for a few days and are usually mild and easily treated. However, for a small percentage, symptoms may be severe enough to interfere significantly with work performance and relationships and may last for up to two weeks.
Symptoms usually disappear after menstruation starts. A more serious form of premenstrual syndrome is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) where emotional and physical symptoms intensify and hamper personal and professional life. PMDD can be distinguished by physical symptoms as well as psychological symptoms such as extreme anxiety, tension, mood swings and a depressive state.
It affects about 5 to 7 percent of women. Medications prescribed to treat PMDD include antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and hormone drugs to prevent ovulation. Natural treatments are also therapeutic and excellent at reducing symptoms often helping to treat the underlying causes of the problem, rather than simply suppress symptoms.
What Causes Premenstrual Syndrome?
The causes of premenstrual syndrome are not known but there are underlying factors that may trigger the symptoms. These factors include:
Hormone levels may fluctuate due to the decreased production of sex hormones after ovulation has taken place
Fluctuations of serotonin in the brain may lead to mood swings and depression
These are also brain chemicals that fluctuate in response to the hormones produced by the ovaries and can affect mood
Other possible causes may include a poor diet, mineral and vitamin deficiency, and stress
Diagnosing Premenstrual Syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome cannot be positively diagnosed, but symptoms may be linked to your menstrual cycle. Your doctor may ask you to record your signs and symptoms of two menstrual cycles in a diary to establish a pattern.
The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome differ from one woman to the next. Some women experience mild episodes of PMS while others experience severe cramps, headaches, backaches and breast tenderness.
The common symptoms and signs of premenstrual syndrome include:
Help for Premenstrual Syndrome
There are a wide variety of treatments and lifestyle changes that can alleviate and manage the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. These include:
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen Prescription medicines such as oral contraceptives, antidepressants or beta-blockers
While these treatments can be beneficial, these medications are strong, and may have side effects. Some may also be addictive.
Natural and holistic treatments can be very effective in treating the physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and providing relief. Natural remedies have been used traditionally for many years to combat PMS symptoms and restore hormonal balance. These treatments usually work best in combination with a health program that is tailored to the individual’s needs.
Herbal and homeopathic remedies are completely safe, and non addictive – without the side effects of prescription drugs. These remedies contain ingredients such as Fennel, Pulsatilla and Melissa which help to naturally reduce the effects of premenstrual syndrome and support health. Don Quai is also a very effective Chinese herb which helps to restore hormonal balance and promote female reproductive health – thereby reducing the occurrence of pre-menstrual symptoms. Consult an herbalist or homeopath about a treatment that suits you.
Lifestyle changes can go a long way to improving the symptoms of PMS. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. Acupuncture and Chiropractic therapy can also be effective in lessening the troublesome symptoms of PMS.
More Information on Premenstrual Syndrome
There are certain preventative measures that can help relieve
the symptoms of
premenstrual syndrome. These tips include:
- Reduce stress by getting enough sleep and practicing deep breathing exercises
- Practice relaxation therapy with the help of specially composed CD’s
- Exercise three to five times a week with activities such as walking, swimming or aerobics
- Make dietary changes and increase your intake of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains
- Reduce salt and sugar intake
- Increase the calcium in your diet
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily
- Take multivitamins daily which include calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and evening primrose oil
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and tobacco
- Apply a hot water bottle or castor oil pack to prevent cramping and pain
- Keep a journal to record and track your symptoms
- Go easy on yourself during your menstrual cycle, and pamper yourself with bubble baths and aromatherapy oils.