Let’s get the answer out right away – PMS is a real condition. Symptoms vary amongst women, but for many, PMS can cause great physical and emotional discomfort.
PMS, which is the acronym for premenstrual syndrome, refers to the physical and emotional symptoms that many women experience after ovulation occurs. Symptoms can continue up to five days after menstruation begins. Common physical symptoms include abdominal bloating, acne, and cramping. More acute physical symptoms may include headaches or increased sensitivity to noise and/or light. Common emotional symptoms include fatigue, irritability, and food cravings. More intense emotional symptoms may include depression, mood swings and difficulty remembering or focusing.
What causes PMS?
The specific cause of PMS is unclear. It is believed to be related to the fluctuations in hormone levels that happen before menstruation occurs. Estrogen and progesterone levels significantly decrease after ovulation. The decrease in those hormones may also negatively impact a woman’s serotonin levels. Serotonin is the brain chemical that helps regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.
Women may not immediately realize that some of the symptoms they are feeling are related to PMS, especially if they have an irregular cycle. It is a good idea to keep a record of symptoms; look for patterns and see if they are surfacing at the same time each month.
How to treat PMS
There are some over-the-counter medications and home remedies that may help relieve PMS symptoms. Exercise and diet changes may also help manage them. Some women may choose to take hormonal birth control pills to alleviate PMS symptoms. However, anyone experiencing severe symptoms should consult a doctor. Severe symptoms may be a sign of a much more serious condition, like premenstrual dysphoric disorder or endometriosis.
The reality is many women experience different premenstrual symptoms. How they treat or deal with it will vary depending on their lifestyle.
Call our office to schedule an appointment if you believe your PMS symptoms are unusual or severe, or have questions on how you may better manage them.