Understanding the Premenstrual Syndrome

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Understanding the Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome, (PMS), is a form of chronic pain that affects around 90% of all women, although the strength and length of the pain varies from person to person.

PMS occurs in the days or weeks leading up to a woman’s menstrual cycle and manifests itself in both physical and physiological changes.

For the majority of women PMS takes the form of a mild pain that while annoying, can easily be dealt with.

However, for a small portion of women PMS is something they dread every month as it results in severe pain and discomfort, and can greatly interfere in day to day to living.

The following article shall examine some of the symptoms of PMS, and will detail on some of the treatments available today.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Although nearly all women suffer from some form of PMS, only a very small portion find that it affects them in a noticeable manner.

No one is sure what exactly causes PMS, but it is often attributed to the fluctuating hormone levels often experienced near the beginning of a menstrual cycle.

These fluctuations are responsible for the physical changes women experience, including swelling and tenderness of the breasts, feeling bloated and headaches and abdominal cramping.

Psychological changes include bouts of depression and a lack of concentration or interest in tasks at hand.

It is not known why some women suffer from PMS more than others, but it has been theorised that slight chemical imbalances in the brain can be a contributing factor.

How to tell if You Suffer from PMS

There is not direct test to tell if a woman suffers from PMS or not, but blood and urine tests can help Doctors to make a correct diagnosis.

However, the majority of diagnoses are made based on the symptoms that the individual suffers from.

Physical symptoms include fluid retention, headaches, outbreaks of acne, muscle and joint stiffness and pain, insomnia, dizziness, weight gain and nausea. Psychological symptoms can include mood wings, irritableness, anxiety, depression, anger, forgetfulness and confusion and low self-esteem.

Women may also notice a loss in libido during PMS, and a lack of appetite or cravings for specific foods.

Women who suffer from long term illnesses such as asthma often find that these illnesses worsen during PMS.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, (PMDD), is a more severe form of PMS that can have an extremely negative effect on an individual’s life.

Symptoms of PMDD are very similar to PMS but tend to be far greater in strength and length, especially in the case of the psychological symptoms.

Indeed, women who have PMDD can find it very difficult to deal with the depression and mood swings that often accompany the pain.

PMDD is especially destructive as it can interfere with daily relationships and make if hard for the individual to relate to those around them, and can even lead to suicidal thoughts.

If you believe that you are suffering from PMDD, or if you suspect a family member or friend is then contact your local Doctor as soon as possible.

Seeking Treatment

On a whole, women are more likely to deal with pain and discomfort and they will try to not let if affect their daily lives, but it’s important to know when it is necessary to visit a Doctor or other form of medical professional.

Treatment is not always needed, and most women will be fine with the reassurance their Doctor provides them with.

However, if you find that your PMS is having an affect on your work, relationships or other daily engagements then it is probably a good idea to visit your Doctor and discuss what is going on.

If you suffer from PMDD or more severe PMS symptoms your Doctor may refer your to a specialist.

This may also occur if you are non-responsive to any medicine or treatment that your Doctor prescribes for you.

Types of Treatment

There are many different types of treatment that can be employed to counter the effects and pain of PMS.

Most of these are designed to benefit the individual in the short term, and can help counteract the various physical and psychological symptoms common to PMS and PMDD. The treatment given will depend on the symptoms and how severe they are, as well as the diet and lifestyle of the individual.

Hormonal Treatments

Hormonal treatments are used to replace hormones that are lost during PMS and PMDD, and can help deal with both the physical and psychological symptoms.

Hormonal treatments include progestogens, the combined oral contraceptive pill, oestrogen patches, oestrogen implants and Danazol.

Hormonal treatments are not available over the counter and must be prescribed by your Doctor. Hormonal treatments generally take a few weeks to start working, and are taken in the weeks before PMS.

Non-hormonal Treatments

Non-hormonal treatments are used when the symptoms are not as severe, and consist of vitamins and natural remedies such as evening primrose oil.

Other treatments included in the group are anti-depressants and water tablets, which can be used to help reduce swelling and the feeling of being bloated.

PMDD Treatments

Severe cases of PMS and PMDD will require stronger treatments to deal with the symptoms.

Strong drugs like Zoladex and Prostap are used to control the woman’s ovaries, which can provide relief.

In some cases surgery may be required, but this is a massive step and those considering doing so should consult a number of Doctors and specialists.


Premenstrual syndrome is a condition that affects up to 90% of all women, although the severity and length of the symptoms varies from person to person.

The best thing you can do if you believe you suffer from PMS or PMDD is to visit your Doctor.

They will be able to determine how strong the symptoms are what type of treatment is most suitable.

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