Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, is experienced by an estimated 3 out of four menstruating women (in some form). This syndrome is usually seen in women between 20 and 30 years of age, making them experience a large variety of symptoms.
PMS symptoms affect women emotionally and behaviorally as well as physically. Symptoms generally return in regular patters and are slightly predictable. Most women only experience a few of these signs and symptoms, although the list is quite long.
Behavioral and Emotional Symptoms:
- Depressed moods
- Uncontrollable crying spells
- Difficulty falling asleep (insomnia)
- Mood swings and fluctuations
- Irritability and/or anger
- Withdrawal from social life and settings
- Concentration become difficult and poor
- Food cravings
- Appetite change (increases or decreases)
Physical Symptoms (and signs)
- Joint and/or muscle pains
- Feelings of fatigue
- Fluid retention, causing weight gain
- Increased Acne
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Bloating abdominally
- Tenderness of the breasts
Treating PMS Symptoms
There are many cases where the symptoms are severe, causing impairment on everyday life. If you are unable to manage the pain and amount of symptoms, there are many ways to medicate and treat this syndrome. The form of medication and its effectiveness will vary for each individual. The most commonly prescribed medications include:
- Diuretics – When weight gain continues, even with exercise and limitations on the amount of salt consumed, diuretics may be a solution. You swell and bloat when experiencing PMS, making you retain water. Water pills are often used to shed water weight from the body.
- Antidepressants – There are a select few SSRI’s used for PMS symptoms such as food cravings, fatigue, insomnia, etc.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – Commonly known as ibuprofen (such as Advil) and naproxen sodium (such as Aleve) are ingested to relieve many symptoms. These include: cramping and sensitivity in the breast area. This medication is used to relieve pain.
- Depo-Provera (Medroxyprogesterone acetate) – When experiencing severe PMS or PMDD, this medication may be an option. Depo-Provera is an injection that temporary stops ovulation. This can stop all of the symptoms from PMS and stop you from having a menstrual cycle all together. There are some drawbacks, however. Some PMS symptoms may be heightened and increases (such as appetite increase, headaches, and weight gain).
- Oral Contraceptives – These prescriptions stop ovulation. They can also help with the stabilization of hormonal swings, helping to relieve PMS symptoms.
Causes of PMS
It is unknown what causes PMS, but there are several contributing factors, which include:
- Changes in the brain, chemically.
- Changes in hormones. Hormonal fluctuations shown during the premenstrual cycles and are absent during pregnancy may account for some of PMS and PMS symptoms.
- Unhealthy Eating habits. Consuming a lot of caffeinated beverages as well as high levels of salt have been linked to PMS.
If you are experiencing some of the above symptoms and feel that you need further treatment, contact a physician. You may be eligible for some oral or injected forms of birth control that can aid in regulation of symptoms.