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Mood Swings, Bloating, Cramps: What's Behind Those Terrible PMS Symptoms?

The physiology behind menstruation is well established, but what about PMS? We spoke to a doctor to get an answer to this question

Written by: Shubhangi ShahPublished at: Nov 08,2021
Updated at: Nov 16,2021

Mood swings, bloating, constipation, pains, fatigue are some of the things a woman experiences before the start of her periods. Although these symptoms haven’t been completely figured out, these are so common that collectively they make up a syndrome called premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. Nearly every woman experiences these, although the type and intensity of symptoms might vary. The physiology behind menstruation is well established. However, what is the reason behind PMS? To get an answer to this question, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr Nivedita Kaul, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at CK Birla Hospital, Delhi.

Dr Kaul defined PMS as the “physical and emotional symptoms” that a woman experiences during the two weeks before the start of her periods. Although almost every woman experiences some symptoms, their intensity varies so much that some experience just mild symptoms, for others it “significantly affects their quality of life,” said Dr Kaul. 

PMS Symptoms

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

While PMSing, a woman experiences one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Breast pain

What Causes PMS?

“The exact cause of PMS is not known,” said Dr Kaul. However, it is thought to be linked to the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle. As some women are more sensitive to these changes, hence, they experience PMS. The hormonal changes are such that these can even affect the level of various chemicals and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid).

Who Is More Prone To PMS?

Although any menstruating woman can get PMS, some women are more prone to experience it than others, as per a leading health website. Such women are:

  • Those who are in their late-20s to mid-40s. 
  • As compared to younger teens, the older ones get more severe symptoms.
  • Those who have had their first pregnancy.
  • Those who have suffered from depression or mood disorders are more prone to PMS than others.
Also read: How to Deal with PMS Food Cravings

How To Manage PMS Symptoms?

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

There are several ways to manage PMS symptoms, one of which is through making certain lifestyle choices, such as:

  • Have a balanced diet, which includes all the food groups, macronutrients, and other vitamins and minerals. At the same time, avoid processed, sugary, salty, and fatty foods especially in the days preceding your period.
  • Maintain a healthy fluid intake.
  • Manage stress by doing yoga and meditation.
  • Supplements such as that of calcium and vitamin D can help.
  • The evening primrose oil can help you with breast pain.
  • To manage symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, and depression, you can seek psychological support and therapy.

If you do not get any relief following these, you can seek medical help. Your gynaecologist can prescribe you some safe & effective hormonal /non-hormonal medications depending on your symptoms.

Also read: Try these Natural Therapies to Fight Symptoms of PMS

Tips To Prevent PMS Symptoms

As stated already, almost every woman experiences PMS. However, there are some tips that can help you prevent these. Here is what Dr Kaul recommends:

  • Have a diet that is rich in complex (high fiber) carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans, nuts, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Your diet must also include ample amounts of calcium (milk, yogurt, etc), and green leafy vegetables.
  • Caffeine and alcohol are stimulants. You should avoid these to prevent PMS symptoms.
  • Reduce intake of salt and fats.
  • You must work out regularly. 
  • No matter how underrated, adequate sleep can not only help you manage PMS symptoms, it ensures sound health. 

These tips will help you to prevent some of the PMS-associated symptoms.

(With inputs from Dr Nivedita Kaul, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at CK Birla Hospital, Delhi)

Photo Credit: Freepik



All possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; however Onlymyhealth.com does not take any liability for the same. Using any information provided by the website is solely at the viewers’ discretion. In case of any medical exigencies/ persistent health issues, we advise you to seek a qualified medical practitioner before putting to use any advice/tips given by our team or any third party in form of answers/comments on the above mentioned website.

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