Premenstrual Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Premenstrual Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is the storm before the storm. For many women, the days leading up to menstruation are associated with a number of highly stressful physical and psychological symptoms. It is known that 20% of women feel severely limited during this time, which is why it is important to make a correct diagnosis and use multidisciplinary approaches to make everyday life easier for patients.

When talking about premenstrual syndrome, there is often a focus on just one aspect: a woman’s mood swings. Often times, only a cursory look at this problem is given without considering the complex mechanisms that determine the menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels decrease while progesterone levels increase; the serotonin level drops and other hormones also come into play, which can promote edema, headaches, abdominal pain, etc.

Premenstrual syndrome is characterized by a number of physical and psychological symptoms that appear in the days before the onset of menstruation and stop when menstruation begins.

This relentless ups and downs of neurotransmitters and hormones, which is accompanied by several symptoms, can affect any woman of childbearing age. Symptoms can range from breast tenderness or fatigue to extremes such as dizziness, cramps, vomiting, and pain that make the woman unable to do anything and that a simple pain pill can no longer help.

It is not surprising that countries like Japan give women three days off when they are menstruating or suffering from premenstrual syndrome. This special vacation is called “seirikyuuka” Every employee can take this paid vacation. Other countries would not even dream of such accommodation, but there is one fact that cannot be denied: both menstruation itself and the days leading up to a menstrual period are accompanied by a number of very unpleasant symptoms that may affect women .

Woman lying in bed with stomach ache

What is premenstrual syndrome and what does it mean?

We have already pointed out that not all women have particular complaints in the premenstrual and menstrual phase. However, it is known that more than 80% of the female population suffer from some form of discomfort and 8% from what is known as premenstrual dysphoria. The latter is so restrictive because of the symptoms on a physical and psychological level that it is almost impossible to lead a normal life.

Premenstrual disorders are related to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. When the unfertilized egg loosens, the corpus luteum begins to release progesterone. This change in turn stimulates other endocrine glands and their hormone production, such as the adrenal glands, which release aldosterone, a mineralocorticoid that can cause edema, swelling and extreme fatigue.

As if that weren’t enough, serotonin levels also drop in this pre-menstrual period. Listlessness, tiredness, discomfort or even anger are part of the emotional symptoms that often occur in premenstrual syndrome.

The four types of premenstrual syndrome

Most often, premenstrual syndrome is characterized by four changes, by four dimensions, which contain a series of very specific symptoms from which every woman can suffer to a greater or lesser extent. Let’s take a closer look at the so-called PMS types.

PMS type A (anxiety)

The low levels of serotonin can make you feel stressed and it can trigger anxiety, nervousness, bad mood, constant worry, and over-apprehension. During this period, which can last between three and ten days, affected women suffer from mental hyperactivity, which is both debilitating and stressful.

PMS type P (“pain”)

Here physical symptoms come to the fore. Not all women suffer from the same symptoms, but these are the most common:

  • headache
  • stomach pain
  • Swelling and tenderness of the breast
  • Lower back pain
  • Joint pain
  • cramps
  • Recurrent diarrhea or constipation
  • Flare-ups

PMS type C (“craving”, cravings)

Premenstrual syndrome is often associated with cravings for sweets, chocolate and other sugary foods. The hormones are responsible for this. The course of the estrogen and serotonin levels lead to a lower blood sugar. This triggers cravings for sweet dishes.

chocolate muffins

PMS type D (depression)

Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels are responsible for insomnia, listlessness, fatigue, hot flashes and, what’s worse, a depressive episode that feels almost like a real depression.

How can you relieve the symptoms?

Many women turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to reduce symptoms associated with menstruation and premenstrual syndrome. In view of the possible side effects on the stomach and kidneys, however, it is advisable to pursue other approaches that are just as or even more effective, such as these:

  • Calcium and vitamin D greatly improve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. We can take vitamin supplements or take more fish, such as B. consume salmon, cereals, orange juice or fortified milk.
  • Magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E are also very effective, especially for pain relief, as well as swelling or edema.
  • Plants like sage or ginger are also very good.
  • We should reduce our consumption of salty foods, refined flours, saturated fats, coffee and alcohol.
  • Light sporting exercises also help, as do yoga or relaxation exercises.
Woman with red fingernails holds a mint green mug

If the symptoms are very distressing and prevent us from leading a normal life, we should see a doctor. In these cases, birth control pills or even antidepressants are common and equally effective treatments.

In any case, we should also take the advice given above into account. A multidisciplinary approach, consisting of a pharmacological, natural and psychological component, will definitely help us to declare war on premenstrual syndrome.

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