Premenstrual syndrome, also known as premenstrual tension or PMS, refers to the emotional, physical and behavioral symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 250 million women suffer from PMS at least once during their menstrual cycle.
Causes and Symptoms of PMS
PMS usually starts after ovulation and can last for seven days or longer in some women. Some of the common causes of PMS include the following:
- Hormone cycling: During the luteal phase, progesterone levels are high and estrogen can be low, resulting in some of the symptoms of PMS.
- Serotonin: Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter and a fluctuation in its levels can result in the development of PMS. A lower level of serotonin is associated with depression, dizziness, fatigue and sleep disorders.
- Depression: Severe depression may be associated with many PMS incidents.
Women with PMS often experience symptoms based on their menstrual cycle. These symptoms could be severe and typically subside in a week or two. Consistent symptoms are also observed in some women and the condition is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Behavioral symptoms of PMS include:
- Lack of concentration
- Long spells of unnecessary crying
- Anxiety and depression
- Alteration in eating habits
- Extreme mood swings
- Increased anger
Physical symptoms of PMS include:
- Muscle pain and joint stiffness
- Tenderness and swelling of the breasts
- Heart palpitations
Treatment Strategies for PMS
Various treatment strategies are available depending on the severity of the symptoms. Some of the most common strategies are:
- Diuretics: Drugs like Aldactone are most effective in managing weight gain, inflammation and bloating.
- Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline, fluoxetine and paroxetine are prescribed to women with severe mood swings and depression.
- Contraceptives: Various contraceptives are available that can reduce or inhibit ovulation but are rarely used in managing PMS as they do not provide any relief from the symptoms.
Alternative treatments for PMS include:
- Lemon Balm: It may help reduce the symptoms related to sleep disorders, depression and anxiety.
- Chromium: An intake of chromium could regulate insulin and blood sugar levels, keeping food cravings under control.
- Vitamins and minerals: A combination of vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium may elevate mood and reduce PMS symptoms effectively.
Complications Associated With PMS
Apart from mood swings, bloating and pain, PMS can also worsen other conditions that a woman may suffer from, including:
- Asthma: Asthma attacks usually increase during the luteal phase.
- Migraines: Migraines are one of the most commonly observed complications of PMS and the frequency and duration of an attack can increase during this phase.
PMS is often characterized by changes in mood and behavior during the luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle. These symptoms subside on their own as the cycle continues, but you can alleviate its symptoms and bring back some normalcy to your routine with rest, medications and natural ingredients.
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