Premenstrual Syndrome - Understanding and Dealing with It

Jun 01, 2023

Premenstrual Syndrome - Symptoms of Premenstrual SyndromeMenstruation is a part of a woman’s life from puberty to menopause. It may require some changes to normal activities for a few days each month, but nothing more than that. It should not affect the quality of personal, social or professional life. That said, for some women, the period is not a discomfort they have to accept. If the days prior to the period are so difficult that normal life is affected, then you may have premenstrual syndrome or PMS.

PMS is not a disease. It is a group of changes that a woman physically, mentally and emotionally and keeps returning regularly in the days before the period.

Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome

A woman may be affected by pain, tenderness or soreness, besides behavioural changes, in the days before her period. Determining if this is just normal discomfort or is severe enough to be classified as PMS is not easy. A very basic guide to knowing if you suffer from PMS is to consider if the changes seriously affect your normal life and ifit affects work and relationships.If the answer is yes and if the same problem develops about 5 days before the onset of the period for 3 or more months in a row, then you may be suffering from PMS.

The common symptoms of PMS include:

Physical Symptoms:

  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Pimples
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Bloated tummy
  • Cramps
  • Tender breasts
  • Unusual hunger or a lack of appetite
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain

Behavioural Symptoms:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate or focus
  • Fatigue and general lassitude

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Don’t want to be with people, even good friends
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control
  • Angry outbursts about issues that would not normally upset you
  • Insomnia
  • Crying
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Feeling tense or anxious about things you will normally take in your stride

It is important to note that the symptoms of PMS and its severity vary from woman to woman. If you are unsure as to whether you suffer from it, you must visit the gynaecology department at a multispecialty hospital and consult a gynaecologist so that your condition and the seriousness of the issue can be correctly diagnosed.

Those At Risk 

PMS can affect any woman at any age, prior to menopause. That said, it is most commonly found in those who:

  • Who are between the late 20s the early 40s of age
  • Have had one or more children
  • Have a family history of depression
  • Suffer from clinical depression or bipolar disorder
  • Have had postpartum depression

The Causes of Premenstrual Syndrome 

Medical science has not been able to find the exact cause of PMS. It is connected to your body chemistry and the changes to your metabolic system before the onset of your period.There are various lifestyle issues that may not directly cause PMS but which can exacerbate the condition. These include:

  • Smoking or other forms of tobacco use
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Having a diet that is rich in red meat, salt and sugar
  • Not getting adequate sleep
  • Insufficient physical exercise
  • Being under severe stress

Those with other health issues, not directly connected with the onset of their periods, may find that those conditions become worse during the PMS days. The issues include asthma, allergies, migraines, etc.

Dealing With PMS

Is no specific medication that will help to control or alleviate the symptoms of PMS. However, there are some lifestyle changes that women find can help them to deal with it. Dealing with PMS does not mean stopping it but managing and dealing with it to minimize its impact on your life.  Among the things that have a positive impact on PMS symptoms are:

  • A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Ensuring that your diet contains adequate volumes of calcium. This means consuming dairy products, leafy green vegetables and fish
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and salt
  • Taking vitamins and/or food supplements to help your system fight the symptoms. It is always best to consult a doctor before consuming any food supplements
  • Giving up the use of tobacco in any form
  • Having enough sleep
  • Using meditation, yoga and other stress-reduction methods
  • Keeping track of the symptoms in a diary so that you know when the problems will be at their worst so you can make whatever changes are possible during those days to reduce the impact
  • Using over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce the severity of the pain and discomfort. Ensure that you do not exceed the prescribed dosage unless permitted to by a doctor.

Medical Treatment

If nothing you have tried has been able to help you with your PMS, it is time to consult a doctor. The doctor will normally ask about the symptoms, do some physical examinations and order some tests. Once the doctor is sure that the problem is PMS and not another issue with similar symptoms, a course of treatment will be planned. This may include:

  • Prescription medications including:
    • Anti depressants if it is found that there is a connection between PMS and being depressed or anxious
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Diuretics to reduce water retention and feelings of being bloated
    • Birth control medication to stop ovulation and control hormone levels
  • Behavioural counseling to find ways to modify lifestyle and activities that may otherwise increase the severity of PMS symptoms.

There is no medical path to completely eliminating the symptoms of PMS. But many actions can be taken to control the problem and reduce its impact on your normal life so that the days before and during your period are not times you need to be afraid of. Once PMS is under control its effect on your life and relationship will be reduced and your life will be more in your control.

The first step in dealing with and managing PMS is to recognise the symptoms and consult a doctor at a hospital with a specialised Gynaecology Department where highly qualified specialists and the latest medical technology will be available to give you the best possible outcome to controlling your PMS.

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