July 28 2021
Premenstrual syndrome is a collection of symptoms that most women get around a couple of weeks before the onset of their period. The most commonly experienced symptoms in around 90 per cent of women with the premenstrual syndrome include bloating, headaches and mood swings. Some women experience a severe form of these symptoms wherein they are unable to carry on their usual day to day activities, whereas some women remain active as the range of symptoms they undergo is milder. Women in the age group of around 30 years are more prone to experience premenstrual syndrome.
A range of emotional and physical symptoms that women get on the onset of ovulation and before the start of their menstrual period are collectively known as premenstrual syndrome or PMS. When there is no possibility of pregnancy to occur after ovulation, there is a drastic decrease in the progesterone and estrogen levels in the body which may lead to the manifestation of these symptoms. As the hormone levels surge back to normal within a few days of the onset of periods, the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome gradually fade away.
A few women do not have any signs of premenstrual syndrome whereas some have only very mild symptoms during their periods. Along with menopause, the signs of the premenstrual syndrome also go away as there is no longer occurrence of periods. The presence of severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome could be an indicator of premenstrual dysphoric disorder ( PMDD). Women who have a higher level of stress, who have a family history of depression and those who have a personal history of postpartum depression are more likely to suffer from premenstrual syndrome.
The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome may worsen with age and get progressively more profound in the late 30s or early 40s years of age and then around the time of menopause, they are manifested the most. This stage is called perimenopause. This leads to mood swings especially in those women who are sensitive to the change in the hormone levels throughout their menstrual cycle. There is unpredictable ups and downs in the hormone levels in women as there is a slow transition which takes place in the body to attain menopause. After menopause, premenstrual syndrome stops as there is no menstrual cycle.
Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
The symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome vary from woman to woman and they may also keep changing throughout life till menopause is attained. Some of the symptoms of PMS are:
The physical symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome include swollen and tender breasts, either constipation or diarrhoea, the presence of a gassy feeling or bloating, cramping, headache, backache, clumsiness, noise and light intolerance etc. The emotional or mental symptoms associated with the premenstrual syndrome are irritability or hostile behaviour, a feeling of tiredness, sleep problems which may either be too much or too little sleep, appetite changes, food cravings, difficulty in concentration, temporary memory loss, anxiety, tension, depression, a feeling of sadness, crying spells, mood swings, reduced sexual desire etc. If these types of symptoms affect the daily functionality, a doctor should be consulted and premenstrual syndrome treatment should be taken.
Research is still going on to determine the causes of premenstrual syndrome. During the menstrual cycle, the hormonal changes which occur, thereby affecting some women more significantly than the others are thought to be the cause of the premenstrual syndrome. There is no diagnostic tool to diagnose the presence of premenstrual syndrome. The treating physician will ascertain the symptoms, when and how they happen and their effect on the daily activities. It is most probably premenstrual syndrome if these symptoms occur about five days before the onset of the menstrual cycle and should happen for at least a duration of three menstrual cycles in a row, they end within four days from the start date of the period and they prevent a woman from doing their daily routine activities.
A proper record of all the premenstrual symptoms which are being felt and their severity should be maintained for a couple of months and this information should be shared with the doctor along with the presence of any family history present to be able to diagnose the premenstrual syndrome. Women who are diagnosed with premenstrual syndrome are often found to be associated with other health conditions which also manifest with increased severity before the onset of the menstrual cycle. Some of them include:
- Depression and anxiety are most conditions, most commonly associated with premenstrual syndrome and they may also get worsened before or during the menstrual cycle.
- Some women who have premenstrual syndrome are also found to have myalgic encephalitis also known as the chronic fatigue syndrome whose symptoms get worse before the start of periods. These women also have heavy bleeding during this time and also are more prone to get premature menopause.
- Women may also experience a condition called irritable bowel syndrome, which causes cramping, bloating and gas formation which worsens right before the periods.
- Premenstrual syndrome can also worsen already existing health disorders like asthma, allergies and migraines.
Symptomatic relief and treatment of premenstrual syndrome
Some of the activities which may provide relief from the symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome include:
- Exercises which can help in alleviating symptoms of depression, fatigue and difficulty in concentrating. Yoga, meditation and massage may also be tried.
- Intake of healthy foods and avoiding caffeine, high amounts of salt and sugar and following dietary modifications which may cause the relief to the associated symptoms.
- Getting proper and relaxed sleep, which may otherwise lead to an increase in anxiety and mood swings.
- Avoiding smoking may also reduce premenstrual syndrome symptoms.
- Pain relief medications like ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin lessen the amount of bleeding and other symptoms such as cramps, headaches, backaches and breast tenderness.
- Intake of calcium has been found to reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, such as fatigue, cravings and depression.
- Vitamin B6 supplements can alleviate the symptoms of moodiness, irritability, forgetfulness, bloating and anxiety.
- Evening primrose oil supplements by Alvizia healthcare relieves symptoms of premenstrual syndrome by reducing breast tenderness, cramps and mood swings.