Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as “PMS” is a real medical condition that is suffered by many women each month. Symptoms include both physical and mental components and can cause severe suffering to women all over the world.
Symptoms occur prior to your period, happening in the second half of your menstrual cycle and occur repetitively.
Signs and Symptoms
There are over 160 symptoms that are recognized as symptoms of PMS. Common physical symptoms that can be experienced are headaches, bloating, fatigue, and breast tenderness. The physical symptoms can often make you feel so poor that you have behavioural symptoms, or they can happen independently.
Behavioural symptoms include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and decreased interest in an activity. You may be described as being “depressed” or feeling low. Your partner may notice a change in your mood and behaviour, even if you don’t.
What causes PMS?
PMS is thought to be caused by the fluctuating hormones that change throughout the menstrual cycle.
The chemicals in the brain that are responsible for happiness/pleasure (serotonin) can be affected by these changes in hormones.
What can you do about it?
The first step is being aware that these symptoms are present, and that fluctuating hormones are to blame. Just this knowledge will set your mind at ease that these are normal symptoms felt by many menstruating women worldwide. What you need to know is that you don’t have to suffer!
If you are experiencing minor symptoms, lifestyle measures including exercising and relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation may be helpful. However; if your symptoms are more severe and are impacting or social or work life, it may be necessary that you need help in the form of medication.
Typical Treatment options
Typical medications to help treat PMS include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to start or hormone therapy in the form of oral contraceptives.
SSRI’s are the first line therapy for PMS symptoms. Common medications are fluoxetine or sertraline, as they are well studied and are known to be safe and effective. These medications work better if it is mainly behavioural symptoms that you are experiencing.
Up to 70% of women who are tried on SSRI’s experience improvement in symptoms. If you are not responsive to this medication, oral contraceptives are the second line.
Oral contraceptives work by providing a standard dose of estrogen and/or progestin to provide more stability of hormones. There are risks associated with oral contraceptives, especially if you are over 35 and/or a smoker, so be sure to talk to a physician about the risks and benefits of starting this medication.
Premenstrual syndrome is a common problem with menstruating women all over the world. It can negatively affect your mental health, relationships and work life. If you have severe PMS symptoms, medication may be the answer to your problems.
Talk to a doctor today and be able to be in control of your life again.