Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a collection of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Symptoms occur in the week or two before your period and usually disappear after your period begins.
For most women PMS can be nothing but a monthly annoyance, but there are some women (about 14% between the ages of 20-35) who experience severe PMS symptoms, to the point that they are considered disabling. This form of PMS has its own psychiatric designation: premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Unfortunately what causes PMS is not clear. However, it does appear to be linked to the changing hormones during the menstrual cycle and possibly to activity of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain.
Diagnosis of PMS can be difficult because there is no lab test or unique physical findings to verify it. When it is diagnosed it’s usually based on your symptoms, when they occurred, and how much they affect your life. To help establish a pattern your doctor may ask you to keep a journal of your symptoms for at least two menstrual cycles. This can help decipher if the symptoms are indeed premenstrual and predictably recurring.
So what are the symptoms of PMS? Quite often PMS can include both physical and emotional symptoms which can vary from one woman to another. Some common symptoms are:
- Weight gain from premenstrual water retention
- Abdominal bloating
- Breast tenderness
- Stress or anxiety
- Crying spells
- Mood swings, irritability or anger
- Appetite changes and food cravings
- Trouble falling asleep
- Joint or muscle pain
- Trouble concentrating
- Social withdrawal
- Body temperature increase
- Worsening of existing skin disorders, and respiratory (eg, allergies, infection) or eye (eg, visual disturbances, conjunctivitis) problems
Treatment for PMS can vary from woman to woman so you may need to try a few to find which one works best for you. If you don’t suffer from PMDD (severe PMS) then your answer may be simply changing your lifestyle.
Try taking a multivitamin every day that has 400 micrograms of folic acid. Exercise regularly and consume a diet full of healthy foods, such as, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid salt (major cause of extra bloat), sugary foods, caffeine, alcohol, and smoking. Getting 8 hours of sleep every night is also recommended along with finding great ways to cope with stress – exercise (I like yoga), visit with friends for a few laughs or write your feelings down in a journal. You know yourself best so choose something you like to do and go with the flow (no pun intended!)
What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?
PMDD occurs in about three to eight percent of women and is considered a more severe form of PMS. Diagnosis is based on whether you have five or more of the below symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness or despair, or possibly suicidal thoughts
- Feelings of tension or anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings, crying
- Lasting irritability or anger that affects the people around you
- Loss of interest in daily activities and relationships
- Trouble concentrating
- Fatigue (low energy)
- Food cravings or binge eating
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling out of control
- Bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have become the most commonly prescribed medication for women who suffer from PMDD. The drug most widely studied is fluoxetine (Prozac) at doses of 20-60 mg/d. Other drugs include sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), clomipramine, fluvoxamine, and nefadozone.
If you think you have PMDD speak with your doctor about this kind of treatment to see if it’s right for you.
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Birth Control Buzz is a service company that provides birth control prices, types of birth control(prescription required), health administrative services, and birth control statistics predominantly to US patients seeking to purchase pharmaceuticals on-line. For more information, call 1-866-868-8850 or visit http://www.birthcontrolbuzz.com/.