Women may experience a lot of physical or mental discomfort in the weeks before menstruation. The group of all such symptoms is termed as Premenstrual Syndrome. These symptoms may vary from mild to severe affecting the day-to-day activities of women. The symptoms may disappear soon after the onset of menstrual bleeding. During the premenstrual period, hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, are expected to fluctuate, which is identified as one of the major causes of discomfort in women.
Symptoms of PMS:
Various emotional and physical symptoms that women may experience before menstruation are listed below.
- Pain and discomfort (bloating like feeling) in the lower abdomen
- Fluid retention and weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Excessive desire for salty and sweet food
- Back pain
- Fatigue or general weakness
- Mood swings
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Loss of sexual interest
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Causes of PMS:
Here are some common causes of premenstrual syndrome.
- Hormonal Imbalance: The levels of hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, fluctuate during the premenstrual stage, and this triggers some of the symptoms of PMS.
- Chemical Changes: The level of serotonin, a chemical that is known to help regulate the mood and general demeanor of a person, can reduce during the premenstrual period. This can result in the onset of symptoms, such as tiredness, craving for salty and sweet food, and other discomforting symptoms.
- Stress: A person with high-stress levels is generally may experience aggravated symptoms of PMS.
- Body Weight: Obesity is another cause, which can lead to PMS related issues in an obese female as compared to a healthy and lean woman.
Diagnosis of PMS:
As far as the diagnosis of PMS is concerned, there are no specific tests presently existing to suggest that a person is suffering from such a medical condition. Recurrence of aforementioned symptoms during the premenstrual stage followed by a detailed physical examination by an experienced medical practitioner can help in the diagnosis of PMS.
PMS and Its Self-Management
PMS as such doesn’t have a specific cure. Medical practitioner normally recommends patients to switch to certain lifestyle changes and diet improvements to curb the recurrence of PMS. Let us have a glance at a few of the improvements which you can follow to obtain relief from PMS.
- Exercise: Keeping your body active by following a light exercise regimen, aerobic workouts, and regular morning and evening walks helps in maintaining the hormonal balance in the body and reduces the risk of PMS.
- Reduce Caffeine Intake: One should reduce the intake of coffee and chocolates at least 2 weeks before menstruation.
- Give up Smoking: If you have the habit of smoking, better you give it up at the earliest to get rid of the physical complications of PMS.
- Enjoy Good, Refreshing Sleep: Please ensure that your sleep cycles are not affected before the onset of menstrual cycles. Make sure you sleep continuously for at least 7 to 8 hours a day at night.
- Stress Management: Practice stress-management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, listening to music, and other relaxing techniques, to soothe your mind and stay stress-free.
- Control and Monitor Your Diet: One can keep a check on their weight by including the following healthy diet practices in one’s diet.
- Reduce the intake of salty food.
- Increase the frequency of meals with a reduction in intake.
- Include more fruits and fresh vegetables in your diet.
- Avoid having aerated and soft drinks.
- Try to reduce your sugar intake.
- Ensure you take an ample quantity of milk or milk-related items in your breakfast.
- Add more wholegrain cereals in your diet.
- Written by Dr. Ashitha A., Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah