PMS can cause a wide variety of symptoms, which usually occur in a predictable pattern from month to month. Symptoms can be physical or emotional, and range in intensity from barely noticeable to severe. Most women with PMS experience the same combination of symptoms every month, although intensity may vary.
Common physical symptoms of PMS include:
Common emotional or mental symptoms of PMS include:
Medical researchers don’t know the exact causes of PMS, but it’s clear that the hormonal changes that take place during a woman’s menstrual cycle play a key role: The signs and symptoms of PMS change with hormonal fluctuations, and disappear during pregnancy and menopause.
Fluctuations in serotonin, a brain chemical involved in mood states, may also help trigger PMS symptoms. It’s also thought that some women with severe PMS symptoms may have an undiagnosed depression, too. Although depression doesn’t cause PMS, it may make symptoms worse.
Although it’s estimated that three in four women have experienced PMS at some point, it’s also estimated that up to 85% of menstruating women experience at least one symptom of PMS every month. Most women with PMS have mild symptoms; severe symptoms affect less than 10% of women.
PMS occurs most often between a woman’s late 20s and early 40s. Women who have at least one child, have a family history of depression, or have had postpartum depression or another mood disorder are more likely to be affected by PMS.
Mild to moderate PMS symptoms can often be relieved through lifestyle and dietary changes. Getting regular exercise can go a long way in relieving most symptoms, as can eating a whole-foods based diet centered on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and lean proteins. Avoiding sugar, sodium-rich foods, caffeine, and alcohol before your period can also help ease symptoms.
While over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can help relieve the minor aches and pains of PMS, women with more severe symptoms may benefit from prescription birth control medication.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!