Oh, it is the bane of most women’s existence: PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome to be exact.
Can you believe people used to believe PMS was a myth? On the contrary, it is a real condition with real symptoms that many women experience each month.
These symptoms occur about a week before your period starts and usually stop right after menstruation begins. However, many women experience PMS up to 14 days prior to their period and throughout it as well.
There is a difference between discomfort prior to your period and PMS. PMS makes it nearly impossible to function at work or at home either due to physical discomfort or emotional turmoil.
Causes of PMS
While no one knows for sure what causes PMS, it is most likely caused by the hormonal fluctuations and changes at certain points in a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is important to note that PMS is not caused by any underlying psychological condition. Rather, stress and intense situations may worsen PMS symptoms.
Symptoms of PMS
The symptoms of PMS vary widely. Have you caught on yet? Just about everything related to the processes of the female body vary between individual women. However, some of the most common PMS symptoms include:
– Increased appetite.
– Edema or swollen extremities.
– Muscle and joint pain.
– Irritability and anxiousness.
– Lessened sex drive.
– Difficulty sleeping.
– Tender breasts.
– Difficulty concentrating.
PMS does not have a cure, but it can be treated and managed in several ways. There are many things you can do at home to manage PMS (see following section) but your doctor can also prescribe some medication should he or she deem it necessary in adequately treating your symptoms.
Some women suffer from severe anxiety, nervousness and irritability as a part of PMS and are sometimes prescribed antidepressant medication to help stabilize the mood swings that would otherwise be raging due to hormonal fluctuations.
Diuretics are sometimes referred to as water pills because they help the body eliminate unnecessary stores of fluid and sodium–the primary culprits in PMS bloat. After some careful monitoring of your symptoms, you’ll usually be advised to begin taking the diuretic pills just prior to the beginnings of your PMS symptoms.
Birth Control Pills
“The Pill” can help stabilize PMS symptoms substantially by making hormone fluctuations less intense. Birth control pills have also been shown to make periods shorter and less painful in some women. However, just like with any other medication, birth control carries with it risks of its own, and should be considered before deciding to take it.
We’ve discussed what your doctor can do to help you relieve those pesky PMS symptoms, but now we’re going to look at what you can do from the comfort of your own home.
There are, of course, several over-the-counter medications available to help treat PMS and other period-related problems. They usually combine a diuretic with a pain reliever. But there’s more you can do to make your menstrual cycle less miserable.
– Eat Right. For starters, getting yourself on a healthier diet can reduce PMS symptoms. Avoid foods high in sugar and in fat and try to cut out caffeine altogether to reduce irritability. Also, lots of salt intake can really up the bloat factor. Try to reduce your salt intake the days right before your period. Lastly, break up those large meals. Three full meals a day can be heavy on the stomach and lead to constipation, bloating and all sorts of other PMS-related troubles. Try eating six small meals rather than three large ones.
– Sleep Right. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Attempt to get a full eight hours each night. Also, establish your bed as a place of rest, not a place for eating, reading, watching TV, working or whatever else it is you do!
– Exercise Right. Try working out every other day on a regular basis. Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity four times a week. This keeps you in shape and helps you to feel better all the time, not just during that time of the month.
– Schedule Right. Although some things cannot be moved, try to move events and happenings in your life that are taxing to the week following your period. This reduces your stress level and decreases your overall suffering.
Another great way to battle PMS is to load up on the calcium. 1000 mg a day helps to reduce bloating, cramps and joint pain associated with your oncoming period. Plus, you can’t ignore the other wonderful benefits of a steady diet of calcium such as strong bones, teeth and a lessened risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Some months, your PMS may be barely noticeable. Others, it might be uncontrollable. The female body can be quite unpredictable, hence the importance of learning about the functions and phases women go through and how we can make each of them easier to deal with.