Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a horrifying word for women who suffer from it. There's no particular age at which premenstrual syndrome usually bothers a lady, affecting adolescent girls to her menstruating mother, with more than hundred possible symptoms of sufficient severity to interfere with her relationships, working capacity and social activities. Coming from a man, although it may not sound compassionate but if you're suffering from various problems regularly prior to your menses, you should know that you're not alone and not the only 'chosen' one. Around 80% of menstruating women have premenstrual problems and roughly 15% of them are distressed enough with the uninvited company of this premenstrual syndrome. Theoretically, premenstrual syndrome is a wide spectrum of physical, psychological and emotional symptoms related to a woman's menstrual cycle, and practically, it is a real pain in the ass (Women who suffer from PMS won't take my words as offensive, rather they would second me)!
How would you know it is Premenstrual Syndrome?
Confusion and false apprehension is far more agonizing than the problem itself. Obviously, it is for your doctor to diagnose your premenstrual syndrome but, a bit of knowledge on what is going on inside your body is always gratifying. Remember that symptoms of premenstrual syndrome would follow a cyclical pattern occurring regularly during the two weeks prior to menses, with a distinct symptom-free period in between. Hold on, I'm coming to the list of commonly encountered symptoms in my subsequent paragraph. Dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation, is often misunderstood by the patient as PMS as both of these conditions relate to menstruation and pain. If you know the basic pattern of these disorders you can easily differentiate them. As you already know the pattern of PMS it is time for you to get acquainted with dysmenorrhea. In general, symptoms (cramping tummy pain which can be sometimes felt even over the thighs and lower back region) of dysmenorrhea tend to peak by 24 hours of the beginning of menses and subside after the second day.
What are the common symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome?
Like I said before, premenstrual syndrome exhibits myriad symptoms ranging from mild unhappiness to fainting spells! You can either have one particular symptom or a bunch of them. Severity of PMS symptoms varies between two extremes making you slightly uncomfortable to significantly incapacitated. If you're suffering from PMS, most probably you'll encounter one or some of these symptoms:
* Bloating sensation and discomfort in abdomen
* Unhappiness/ Irritability/ Mood swings/ Depression/ Forgetfulness
* Tension/ Anxiety/ Aggression/ Loss of concentration
* Confusion/ Tiredness/ Insomnia
* Decreased Sex drive
* Cravings for foods and sugar
* Headache/ Body Ache/ Abdominal Pain
* Weight gain
* Swelling of Face, Hands, Ankles
* Breast tenderness
* Episodes of Crying
What causes Premenstrual Syndrome?
What causes premenstrual syndrome remains still behind the curtain but there are several hypothesis pointing to hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies as probable culprits.
Hormonal imbalances include:
* Extravagant estrogen in your body
* Poverty of progesterone and,
* Elevated prolactin level.
Nutritional insufficiencies include possible deficiency of:
* Vitamin B6
What are the Risk Factors for Premenstrual Syndrome?
* Cigarette Smoking
* Excessive caffeine consumption
* Increasing Age, troubling maximum in the fourth decade
* Past history of depression
* Family history of PMS
* Dietary deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals as discussed above.
Mechanism behind Premenstrual Syndrome: This part is only for those readers hailing from a life-science background, or who take special interest in studying human body; rest of you can skip to the next paragraph to avoid unnecessary confusion or boredom. A normally functioning menstrual cycle demands harmonious coordination of the hypothalamus, pituitary, ovaries, uterus, prostaglandins and neuroendocrine factors. The ovarian hormones (estrogen and progesterone) excite the target organs of the reproductive tract and exert feedback mechanism on the brain-hypothalamus-pituitary axis to influence its release of hormones. Being such a complex physiological process, dissonance can creep up anywhere in its flowchart, resulting in hormonal imbalances and menstrual irregularities. Our today's topic, premenstrual syndrome, is one of the byproducts of such physiological disruption whose exact cause we're yet to know.
Things you should do if you have PMS:
* During premenstrual period eat more number of meals in lesser bulk.
* Reduce consumption of sugar, salt, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and chocolate.
* Plan for a feasible exercise routine and aim to trim down your weight.
* Practice yoga.
* It's better to start taking vitamin/mineral supplements only after consulting your doctor who might consider prescribing you further medication.
* Maintain a symptom diary for last two cycles.
* Occasionally pamper yourself with body massage.
* Try Relaxation response (probably you don't know this and you'll have to web-search).
Unfortunately, once you're affected by premenstrual syndrome you'll have to tolerate it till menopause. Understanding of the problem and seeking medical attention in right time certainly dilute the problem to some extent. Hope ongoing research on PMS shall bring better treatment options in near future and drastically improve quality of life of women suffering from PMS. Let us educate ourselves and forward the knowledge till then.