Before periods arrive each month, women face various physical and emotional changes. These are mainly due to premenstrual syndrome. It affects over 90% of menstruating women, making it a common condition.
What is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) consists of various physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms occurring together before the monthly period. These symptoms typically arise a few days before the period and often resolve once the menstruation begins.
What are PMS Symptoms?
An average menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days. The PMS symptoms present themselves about 10 to 14 days before menstruation. It coincides with the post-ovulation period of the menstrual cycle – when the hormone levels show maximal variations and dip down.
The symptoms vary for each woman. Although PMS includes a long list of symptoms, not every problem presents itself. You may experience only a few of them.
Also, symptoms can include both physical and emotional-behavioral changes. Physical symptoms of PMS include:
- Muscle aches and pain
- Abdominal Bloating
- Tenderness in your breasts
- Increased flare-ups of acne
- Change in bowel movements – constipation or diarrhea
Emotional and behavioral symptoms of PMS include:
- Increased anxiousness
- Crying spells
- Mood swings and emotional outbursts
- Increased irritability
- Depressed feeling
- Food cravings
- Problems falling asleep
- Reduced concentration
- Change in sexual urges
- Social withdrawal
How is PMS diagnosed?
To diagnose you with PMS, your doctor will require a detailed history. PMS symptoms may mimic thyroid disorders, mood and depressive disorders, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Your doctor may prescribe specific tests to rule out these conditions.
What are 5 Natural Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms?
In most cases, lifestyle changes and natural remedies can help you manage your PMS symptoms – pain, cramps, and mood swings.
Here are a few natural ways in which you can relieve PMS symptoms:
- Modify your diet: Switching to a healthy diet can help reduce the symptoms associated with PMS. Focus on including green leafy vegetables as they are rich in iron and vitamin B. Also, eat a variety of fruits to help with fatigue and sleep problems.
Avoid sugary foods and instead increase complex carbohydrates in your diet. You can try options like pumpkin, potatoes, lentils, and sweet potatoes as they are rich in fiber. You can also pick healthier snacking options like salads and nuts to combat your food cravings.
Limit your consumption of salt as it can lead to water retention causing abdominal bloating. Increase your water intake. Drinking water can help reduce bloating problems and also reduces muscle cramps. You can also add flavor to your water by adding slices of lemon, orange, or cucumber.
Caffeine restriction during the premenstrual period can help you manage your mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and sleep problems.
- Exercise regularly: Contrary to popular belief exercising before and during your periods can prove beneficial. Practice regular aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling.
Exercises cause the release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals positively influence your mood and sleep. Further, exercise can also stretch the muscles allowing them to relax and relieve cramping. According to experts, moderate-intensity exercises are more beneficial compared to strenuous activity.
Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for managing PMS symptoms. The gentle movements and positions, along with the low impact nature of this form of exercise, make it a favorite choice for relieving PMS symptoms.
- Manage your stress: Reducing your stress and relaxation can help improve your emotional imbalance associated with premenstrual symptoms. Breathing exercises, regular meditation, and yoga practices are some ways in which you can naturally relax.
By taking a little personal time, you can prioritize your needs and express your emotions. It will prevent emotional outbursts and give you control over your emotional state.
- Take supplements: Supplementing your diet with essential vitamins and minerals can promote a healthy menstrual cycle and prevent PMS symptoms.
Calcium, magnesium supplements can help with muscle cramps. These supplements are also effective in reducing bloating, fatigue, and mood swings. Magnesium supplements can reduce breast tenderness and help with sleep problems.
Some believe Vitamin B supplements can reduce the psychological symptoms of PMS – such as mood swings, irritability, and anxiety.
- Herbal remedies for managing PMS symptoms: Herbal remedies with anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties can prove beneficial in managing your PMS.
Curcumin (an active element of turmeric) can relieve PMS symptoms. It has anti-inflammatory properties which can help you with pain management and improve your healing potential. You can take curcumin capsules or mix turmeric powder with your food and increase its consumption.
When Should You Consult a Doctor?
Although the symptoms vary among women, pain and emotional imbalance are common PMS symptoms. Most of the symptoms do not interfere with your regular life. But a small percentage of women have disabling symptoms.
If you have difficulties managing your symptoms, and if the symptoms are interfering with your daily life, you can seek a medical opinion.
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What does PMS Treatment Include?
Most women with PMS improve with lifestyle changes. If the symptoms are severe and interfere with your daily living, your doctor can prescribe you certain medicines to relieve PMS symptoms.
Medications for PMS treatment include:
- Painkillers: NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, can help reduce pain, cramps, and breast tenderness. Talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs. Long-term use of NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers or bleeding. You can take them before or during the start of your periods to relieve the symptoms.
- Diuretics: Diuretics help in regulating the excess fluids in your body. It can reduce bloating, swelling, and weight gain symptoms associated with PMS. Your doctor can prescribe a diuretic if water retention is a major symptom for you. Tell your doctor what other medications you are taking, especially NSAIDs. Using diuretics and NSAIDs at the same time may cause kidney problems.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can successfully manage your mood symptoms during PMS.
PMS symptoms are recurrent. Typically, these symptoms disappear after the period starts. With a healthy lifestyle and medical treatment, you can reduce the impact of the PMS symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How long does PMS last?
PMS can typically start 10 to 14 days before the period starts and can last up to 5 to 7 days after the first day of your period.
- How can I reduce PMS?
You can reduce the intensity of your symptoms by incorporating a few lifestyle changes and remedies. You can also try medical management to improve your symptoms.
- Does PMS get worse with age?
PMS symptoms can occur at any age (during the menstrual age between puberty and menopause). It is more common during the 20s and 30s. In some women, the symptoms can progress and worsen with age. The cause for the worsening is not well-understood.