PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is experienced by an estimated 85 percent of all women at some point during their lives. PMS can be defined as a cluster of symptoms which interfere with the woman's life. The symptoms usually begin 5 to 11 days before the start of menstruation. Symptoms often increase in severity when menstruation begins, and then disappear dramatically. These changes are attributed to changing hormone levels in the body.
Among these symptoms are:
weight gain, breast swelling and tenderness, abdominal distention,
water retention, backache, acne, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation,
sores, bruising easily, joint pain/arthritis, body aches,
poor concentration, difficulty making decisions, insomnia,
greater need for sleep, headache, anxiety, mood
swings, depression, crying spells, cravings for sweets or
real cause for PMS is still unknown. The incidence of PMS seems to increase with
age, so as a teenager you may not experience PMS. It seems
to be less common in women in their teens and twenties, so
as you get older you may find yourself experiencing PMS.
PMS is clearly related to the production cycle of ovarian
hormones, these symptoms are not directly related to the levels
of these hormones. Fluctuations in the balance of estrogen
and progesterone may be one of the causes of PMS. I know this
sounds confusing, it is still confusing many medical people.
One hormonal fluctuation can cause one symptom which leads
to another symptom, and so on.
excesses, progesterone deficiencies, Vitamin B6 deficiencies,
low levels of serotonin (a brain chemical), an excess of prolactin
(a protein hormone that induces lactation), and altered glucose
metabolism are among the many different theories that attempt
to explain PMS, but none have been proven.
In Sept. of 2002, researchers discovered that PMS is not a simple
result of an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone
commonly referred to as female hormones, or any
other single hormone. A number of studies have found nothing
abnormal in the levels or ratios of these hormones in women
who experience PMS.
interaction of neurohormones and other brain chemicals are
suspected to have a more direct relationship in triggering
PMS. Exactly how these brain chemicals change with or affect
the menstrual cycle remains unclear. However, treatment studies
are becoming more focused and will most likely soon lead to
a better understanding of the menstrual cycle and the effects
of hormones on human behavior.
example, three recent studies have pointed to calcium deficiency
as a main culprit causing premenstrual syndrome. Therefore,
calcium supplementation may go a long way toward helping you
to relieve your PMS symptoms.
In one study, researchers found
that women who received 1,200 mg of calcium carbonate each
day for three menstrual cycles had a 50 percent reduction
in PMS symptoms particularly mood swings or depression, pain,
cravings, and water retention plus many of the other
symptoms, as well.
deficiency triggers an elevation of female hormones in the
body to stabilize the imbalance. The relationship between
the abnormal calcium levels and female hormones triggers PMS
symptoms. If you correct this imbalance, you will return hormone
levels to their normal range. Some experts think that PMS
may be a simple mineral deficiency, and that PMS symptoms
could be a monthly reminder to you that you aren't consuming
enough calcium, and possibly not enough vitamin D.
many years, PMS was believed to be purely psychological. Many
women were even diagnosed as being mentally ill from PMS.
We now know that PMS is a physical problem involving many
of the bodies hormones that work together normally, but are
imbalanced during this time of a women's cycle.
is individualized depending on the type and severity of symptoms.
It may include changing what you eat, over-the-counter drugs
(ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve), or medication prescribed
by your health care provider. One approach to managing PMS
provides medical and social support that may include education
of the patient and her family and eliminating fear and incorrect
beliefs about menstruation.
If you suffer from PMS see your
health care provider or gynecologist. One of the most important
strategies for coping with premenstrual discomfort is developing
self-awareness. The more you are aware of a pattern, the better
able you will be to develop strategies to recognize and cope
with your symptoms, whatever they may be.
the chemistry of the brain is better understood, we might
get a better understanding of this complex disorder that produces
such a wide range of symptoms for so many women. The true
incidence and nature of PMS has only recently been recognized
by some health care providers, and its cause and treatment
are still being studied.
the numbers are staggering the medical profession remains
at odds when it comes to identifying a cause, diagnosis and
effective treatment. Today many doctors fail to acknowledge
the existence of PMS; most lack the knowledge and available
time required to effectively treat this female anomaly.
may find that a female health care provider is more empathetic
to your needs if you suffer from PMS.
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