PMS is the acronym for premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual tension (PMT). Regardless of what it is called, PMS is a clinical set of far-reaching physical, psychological and emotional symptoms that range from mere discomforts to debilitating dysfunctions. Actually, when the symptoms of PMS are severe enough to render the women suffering them disabled for the entire duration, has been awarded its own name — premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
PMS affects women of childbearing years and it is closely tied to their menstrual cycles. Therefore, the symptoms of PMS are as predictable as are the menstrual cycles themselves and they usually begin two weeks before menses (the period or menstrual bleeding) and abate either just before the bleeding begins or soon after.
Although PMS comes and goes in a, more or less, fixed monthly pattern, the symptoms may vary greatly as they may be harsh and difficult to bear on some months while very trivial on other months.
Symptoms and Risks of PMS
The symptoms of PMS are many as medical science has been, so far, able to identify over 200 of them. Many of these symptoms are seemingly unrelated but there is, most definitely, a common thread between them and that is the predictability with which they come and then also go. The most frequently noted symptoms can be categorized as physical as well as emotional or behavioral. Among the emotional symptoms are: depression, feeling of hopelessness, low self-esteem, tension, anxiety, crying bouts, mood swings, stress, irritability, anger, cravings for foods (binging), sleeping disorders (insomnia), trouble concentrating, and tendency to socially withdraw. Among the physical symptoms are: pain in the joints or muscles, headaches, migraines, fatigue, weight gain from fluid retention and binging, bloating of the abdomen as well as the hand and feet, abdominal cramps, tenderness or sensitivity of the breasts, eruptions of acne, exacerbation of existing disorders such as allergic reactions and respiratory conditions, and constipation or diarrhea.
Women who are most likely to experience the symptoms of PMS and to suffer them most severely are those who consume high levels of caffeine, are subjected to situations of high stress, those who are approaching menopause, those who are predisposed to depression and bipolar disorders, smokers of tobacco, drinkers of alcoholic beverages, those whose close relatives suffer PMS symptoms and poor dietary habits which lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
The Causes for PMS
Research has not yet uncovered the exact cause or causes for PMS but there are several indications that heredity may be a strong factor. Another viable theory is that the rise and fall of the female sex hormones of the menstrual cycles affect the neurotransmitters (serotonin) in the brain which then give rise to the symptoms of PMS. Evolutionists believe that the symptoms of PMS are nature’s way of repelling or rejecting infertile males from ineffectively approaching females, on the one hand. On the other hand, PMS is a means by which to test the zeal of fertile males who will valiantly breakdown such barriers.
Treatments for PMS
As varied as the symptoms are, so are the treatments for them. When symptoms are severe enough for professional intervention, it is usually addressed by prescribing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-depressants, hormonal therapy, diuretics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain relieving medications and psychological counseling. Other forms of suggested treatment are:
- Participating in aerobic exercise, yoga, deep breathing and muscle relaxation.
- Avoiding or significantly reducing the intake of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
- Reducing sodium and refined sugars.
- Increasing the consumption of dietary fiber, particularly from whole grains, nuts and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Ensuring the ingestion of supplements such as calcium, magnesium, manganese and tryptophan as well as vitamins E and B6.
- Allowing more time for sleep, rest and relaxation.