How to relieve Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS ,also known as premenstrual tension (PMT) affects about 80% of women, with 10% having severe PMS that has a significant effect on their day to day lives.
What is Premenstrual Syndrome ?
PMS is used to describe a range of symptoms that occur in women after ovulation and usually ends when menstruation starts.
What causes Premenstrual Syndrome?
The cause of PMS is not well understood. There are several theories which look at:
- changes in sex hormone levels
- changes in brain chemicals that affect mood
Symptoms of PMS
Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome may vary from month to month and in some months may be more severe than others.
PMS and sore breasts and nipples
One of the most common symptoms you may experience as a result of premenstrual syndrome is sore breasts and nipples. Excessive water stored in the body leads to bloating which is the main cause of sore breasts after ovulation. Accummulation of water in the breast tissues leads to stretching of the skin and puts the other tissues under tension which accounts for the soreness.
Other physical symptoms of PMS
Other physical symptoms of PMS include:
- weight gain
- sleep disturbances (sleeping too much or too little)
- changes in appetite (food cravings and overeating)
PMS and mood swings
Mood swings are a common symptom of PMS. Other mood related PMS symptoms include:
- crying spells
How do I know I have PMS
PMS symptoms are so varied that it’s sometimes difficult to know for sure that you have PMS. There are no tests to tell you whether you have PMS or not. The best way is to keep a menstrual diary over a few months. Here you can write down what symptoms you have and when you have them. If symptoms start around the middle of your cycle and end when you menstruate, then you probably have PMS. From the time you menstruate until around the middle of your cycle, you should not have any symptoms. If you have symptoms throughout the whole of your cycle, there are 2 possibilities:
- you don’t have PMS
- you have PMS but you may have another condition in addition
Other health problems that may behave like PMS include:
- chronic fatigue
- irritable bowel syndrome
- cyclic water retention
How to ease PMS symptoms
Finding remedies for PMS (also known as premenstrual tension (PMT)) can be as difficult as making the diagnosis in the first place. There are some general changes you can make to your lifestyle that can make a big difference and help to ease symptoms of PMS.
General lifestyle changes that can ease PMS symptoms
There are several measures you can take to control PMS symptoms.
- animal fat
- refined sugars like in sweets and chocolates (sorry!)
- dairy products
- complex carbohydrates e.g rice, pasta
- minerals (magnesium and zinc)
- Vitamins A, E and B6 (Vitamin B6 should not be taken in doses more than 50mg 1-2 times daily to avoid damage to the nerves which may show up as tingling and numbness of the arms and legs.)
Exercise is a great way of finding relief from PMS symptoms. Advantages of exercise include the following:
- release of endorphins (“happy hormones”) from the brain which gives you that high you experience when you finish exercising. They also relieve pain amongst other things.
- helps relieve tension and anxiety
- improves your general health in terms of weight loss or maintaining your current weight and having a healthy heart.
- reduces water retention
You need about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times a week to get the most benefit. If you don’t want to do high impact aerobic exercise like jogging or skipping you can swim, walk or dance which will put less strain on your joints.
Medication for PMS
These include several groups of medicines:
- Drugs that help to remove excess water from the body – these are known as diuretics. There are several over-the-counter medications that can help reduce water retention and bloating. Some of these PMS medications include Diurex PS, Lurine PMS and Pamprin Multisymptoms.
- Pain relievers – These include Advil, Motrin, Aleve and Anaprox.
- Birth control pills – These can help even out the fluctuations in ovarian hormones. About 1/4 of women taking birth control pills to relieve PMS symptoms have some improvement in symptoms. In some women, it makes the symptoms worse. Needless to say, this is not the best option if you’re trying to get pregnant.
- Drugs which suppress the ovaries – these can only be used for short periods of time because of an increased risk of osteoporosis.
- Antidepressants – these are used to improve mood and reduce mood swings.
Natural progesterone cream for PMS symptoms
Research has shown that women who suffer from PMS, especially when it is very severe, tend to have low progesterone in relation to estrogen in the later part of the menstrual cycle. This can be relieved to a great extent by using natural progesterone cream for two weeks every month. This helps to restore the body’s natural hormonal balance. The best results will be achieved if natural progesterone cream is used together with stress management techniques and adjustments in diet.