Many women get emotional and experience cramps before and during their menstruation which is known as PMS. Cramps and PMS are very normal and can be treated. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a state that typically affects emotional health, physical health, and behaviour of women during certain days of the menstrual cycle, generally just before the menses start. Its symptoms affect more than 90% of menstruating women. PMS symptoms mostly start showing up five to 11 days before menstruation and usually go away once menstruation begins. change in both sex hormone and serotonin levels at the beginning of the menstrual cycle is the primary cause related to Premenstrual syndrome. This National Period Day 2021, let us break stigma around menstruation as Dr. Reenu Jain, Senior Consultant, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Jaypee Hospital, Noida explains everything about PMS in detail.
A Brief about Premenstrual Syndrome
Levels of estrogens and progesterone amplify during certain times of the month. An increase in these hormones can lead to mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. Ovarian steroids are also responsible impairing actions in certain parts of the brain associated with premenstrual symptoms. Serotonin levels affect the mood. It is a chemical in the brain and gut which affects the moods, emotions, and thoughts.
Risk Factors for Premenstrual Syndrome
Any woman may get premenstrual syndrome but there are certain factors that increase the risk. Risk factors for PMS are:
- a family history of PMS
- a family history of depression
- domestic violence
- substance abuse
- physical trauma
- emotional trauma
- a history of depression or mood disorders like bipolar disorder or postpartum depression
Related conditions include:
- major depressive disorder
- seasonal affective disorder
- generalized anxiety disorder
Symptoms of PMS
On an average, a woman’s menstrual cycle lasts of 28 days. Ovulation (the period when an egg is released from the ovaries) occurs on the 14th day of the cycle. By and large, menstruation starts on the 28th day of the cycle. PMS symptoms can start around day 14 and last as long as for seven days after the begining of menstruation.
The symptoms of PMS range from mild or moderate. Nearly 80 percent of women report one or more symptom that does not considerably affect daily functioning of your life. 20 - 32 percent of women experience moderate to severe symptoms that affect some aspect of their life. 3 - 8 percent report premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The severity of symptoms can vary from individual to individual. Also, symptoms may severe on certain months and mild on other.
The symptoms of PMS include:
- abdominal bloating
- abdominal pain
- sore nipples painful breasts
- food cravings, especially for sweets
- sensitivity to light or sound
- changes in sleep patterns
- emotional outbursts
How To Ease The Symptoms of PMS?
PMS can’t be cured but certain steps can be taken to ease the symptoms. The treatment options for moderate to mild form of premenstrual syndrome include:
- staying hydrated to ease abdominal bloating
- eating a balanced diet to improve the overall health and energy level, which means eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and reducing the intake of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol
- taking vitamin D to reduce symptoms
- sleeping for at least six - eight hours every night to reduce fatigue
- exercising to decrease bloating and improve the mental health
- reducing stress by taking up some creative activities like painting and music
- going to cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been proved effective
One can take pain medication to alleviate muscle aches, headaches, and stomach cramping. However, medications and supplements should be taken only after consulting with your doctor.
When to consult your doctor
If physical pain, mood swings, and other symptoms start to affect your daily life, or if your symptoms stay for prolonged period of time then immediately get in touch with your doctor. The diagnosis is done when you have more than one frequent symptoms that is severe enough to cause impairment and is absent between menses and ovulation. The doctor may also rule out other causes, such as:
- thyroid disease
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- connective tissue or rheumatologic diseases
Premenstrual syndrome is normal but it has certain health risks involved if you don’t get it treated on time. The whole aim of National Period Day is to spread awareness about period poverty and eliminate menstruation stigma.
Image Credits- Office of Women’s Health