What is PMS?
About one to two weeks before you are due to bleed, a group of physical and emotional symptoms can affect you, that usually go away when your period starts. You can have a wide range of symptoms that can affect you with mild to moderate severity and are generally known to be caused due to hormonal changes that your body undergoes leading up to your menses.
These symptoms are generally caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and the symptoms vary depending on the person experiencing it.
How common is it?
Usually, PMS symptoms are known to affect about 90% of menstruating females and about 75% of premenopausal women. A more severe version of PMS, known as PMDD, is rarer and affects about 3-8% of menstruators.
Even if you are someone who experiences PMS, you may not be affected by all the symptoms. And, even the time when you experience these symptoms can vary from person to person.
What are the symptoms of PMS?
PMS comes with a wide range of both physical and emotional symptoms and they can affect you in any combination.
- Acne or breakouts
- Mood swings
- Salty or sugary food cravings
- Tender breasts
- Bowel issues like constipation or diarrhoea
- Headaches and muscle aches
- Mood swings
- Sleep cycle disturbance
- Difficulty concentrating
- No mood to socialise
- Decreased libido
- Concentration difficulties
What are the likely causes?
It is difficult to pinpoint an exact cause of PMS but hormonal fluctuations of mainly estrogen and progesterone are linked to it. Also, a drop in estrogen levels can also affect your serotonin levels, which is a chemical that is responsible for regulating your mood, appetite and sleep cycle. This can also possibly lead to PMS symptoms that are on the psychological side.
Further, several risk factors increase your chances of experiencing PMS symptoms:
- If you have experienced depression or mood disorders in the past
- A family history of PMS
- Physical or emotional trauma
- Substance abuse
- A family history of depression
Is it PMS or PMDD?
PMDD stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder and it shares a lot of symptoms with PMS. However, the main difference lies in the degree of severity, especially for symptoms like depression, anxiety, mood swings and feelings of detachment.
PMDD is much rarer than PMS and usually requires medical intervention to take care of the symptoms. PMS, on the other hand, is milder and goes away once your period starts. It is usually possible to take care of it at home and is more often than not anything to worry about.
Is there a formal diagnosis?
There is no formal diagnosis of PMS as of yet, but if you find your symptoms too hard to bear with, you can take a doctor’s advice on what would be the best form of treatment for your particular symptoms.
Your doctor may ask you to track your symptoms for a few weeks or at least two menses to determine if they are indeed the result of PMS and then treat you accordingly.
How can you ease the symptoms?
There are various ways to ease your PMS symptoms, but even if you don’t, they will usually go away once your period begins.
There are a few natural remedies that can help alleviate your discomfort:
- Exercise daily - You can engage in light to moderate exercise daily to increase your estrogen and progesterone levels, which can soothe your symptoms. If you have cramps, you can try certain yoga that can decrease your pain.
- Maintain a diet - Eating a healthy diet of whole carbs, lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables can keep your symptoms in check. Try to maintain a proper diet throughout, but especially when you are about to bleed. It can help you with symptoms like cramps and bloating.
- Avoid certain food - Reduce the intake of salty or sugary food and stay away from caffeine and alcohol to avoid worsening your PMS symptoms as much as possible.
- Manage your sleep cycle - Try and clock in at least 8 hours of sleep to help reduce the feeling of fatigue throughout the day.
Drink fluids - Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to reduce bloating and keep you hydrated.
Using medications and products
Apart from natural remedies, you can also opt for certain medications and products to control your PMS symptoms:
- Use OTC painkillers - There are many OTC painkillers that you can choose from in order to control your cramps and get some relief from the muscle aches and headaches. You can get these without a prescription as these are milder than prescription painkillers.
- Try supplements - Folic acid, vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D supplements can help ease symptoms like cramps, aches, mood swings and bloating. Sometimes, if your body has a hormonal imbalance that leads to irregular periods, you may notice worsened PMS symptoms. Try Carmesi Cyclo+, which is a natural Ayurvedic supplement aimed at restoring your hormonal balance and regulating your cycle.
Use cramp relief patches - Try the Carmesi Cramp Relief Patch which is a hassle-free air-activated heat patch aimed at easing your cramps for up to 8 hours at a time. It is very discreet and can be worn on the go and work excellently to reduce your abdominal cramps.
Do you need to see a doctor?
PMS is usually a condition that is not severe enough to consult a doctor and goes away on its own in due time. The symptoms are also quite manageable at home and do not require medical intervention.
However, if you suspect that your symptoms are severe enough to qualify as PMDD and are actually interfering with your quality of life, you should visit a doctor to chalk out a treatment plan.