For many women, PMS is a nightmare come true. For the uninitiated, Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is a disorder that affects many women around one to two weeks before menstruation begins. During that period a woman feels grouchy, bloated, goes on eating binges, craves for chocolates and suffers a constant irritation with the world in general. This adversely affects the life of women suffering from it and those around her – spouse, children, co-workers, and friends. In fact, severe PMS responses are known to challenge health, change normal routine and impact lifestyle.
While such mood changes have been described at the time of the ancient Greeks, it was Katharina Dalton, a physician and women’s health pioneer, who first identified this disruptive cyclic phenomenon. Her classic book, Once A Month, set the standard for the many books and PMS studies.
Dr Arti Luthra, Gynaecologist and private practitioner says, “PMS is a very common disorder among women in the age group of 30 to 40 years. Unfortunately, there is little awareness about the problem or its causes and effects. While I have patients from the upper strata of society, there is little awareness among the lower economic groups. With an increase in awareness, more women should come to the doctors to find a solution instead of suffering silently. Besides, her family would also treat her with more consideration.”
Symptoms of PMS can include any or all of these:
The physical responses to PMS can also be caused by a problem known as endometriosis, a condition most likely caused by a hormone imbalance in which tissue that looks and acts like the lining of the uterus is found outside of the uterus in the pelvis. At menstruation, this tissue bleeds lightly. The blood irritates nearby tissue and causes pain.
Most experts agree that PMS has something to do with the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone in the latter part of the menstrual cycle, the adrenal hormones that control water retention, and also mood influencing chemical substances in the brain.
There is new evidence showing that low levels of serotonin, an important chemical produced by the brain, may in fact be the major cause of PMS responses. Serotonin helps regulate sleep cycles and carbohydrate metabolism and influences the regulation of estrogen and progesterone. Women with PMS tend to have low and varying levels of serotonin – a condition that can cause early or delayed ovulation and trigger an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone.
The bottom line is that low serotonin affects ovulation, and a “less than perfect ovulation” lowers levels of serotonin in the brain, leading to the vicious cycle known as PMS.
An article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women who suffer from PMS were also often found to have a subtle low thyroid condition. This condition can be uncovered by specialized testing, and management of a low thyroid condition can alleviate PMS responses
Taking Control of PMS
The first step involves keeping a menstrual diary and recording their physical discomfort and emotional upheavals as and when they occur by ranking them on a scale of 01 to 10, Keeping a record continuously for 3 months would help track your PMS.
While Dr Arti Luthra has found Pyrodoxine and Evening Primrose oil helpful while treating her patients, many Vitamins and supplements are effective in alleviating PMS symptoms.
For many females with PMS, prescription medications are very effective in the management of individual responses.
PMS is something that a woman and her family will have to live with. There will always be good, better and best days, but by taking control of PMS and learning how to live life out from under the black cloud of PMS, it is very possible to learn how to feel better all month long.
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