Symptoms PMS or premenstrual syndrome is a term used to describe a set of hormonal changes that trigger a syndrome in a significant number of women for up to two weeks before the start of her period. More than 5 million women require treatment for symptoms of PMS such as marked mood changes and behavioral changes.
Symptoms of PMS will often taper off with the start of your period and then you’ll remain symptom free until approximately two weeks prior to the next period.
There are over 150 symptoms that have been attributed to PMS. The most common physical symptoms of PMS are crying spells, headache, fatigue, fluid retention, constipation, backaches, cramping and weight gain. Emotional symptoms of PMS include behavior changes, anxiety, depression, irritability, panic attacks, tension and altered libido. Symptoms of PMS can vary from month to month. Some months women can be symptom free.
PMS was originally described by an American Neurologist in 1931. There are certain elements that differentiate PMS from other problems that women have. Symptoms are often triggered by hormonal changes and tend to begin in puberty, after a pregnancy or after starting birth control pills. All of these events are marked by changes in the standard hormonal environment of the body.
Although researchers know the cause of PMS they can’t always pinpoint the trigger. Not every woman who starts birth control or becomes pregnant suffers from these symptoms. Heredity does seem to be a factor but the symptoms differ from mother to daughter or siblings. Women will sometimes feel a burst of energy and increased activity just prior to the worst symptoms of PMS.
Postpartum depression is a special form of PMS that is especially severe after the delivery of a baby. Most women do experience a let down from the high hormone levels of pregnancy but the depth of depression in postpartum depression is much deeper. Because the trigger is known to be the removal of high levels of hormones the first treatment is often replacement of those hormones for a more gradual weaning process.
Dietary changes do make a difference in the severity of PMS. Women who eat six small meals a day at 3 hour intervals that are high in complex carbohydrates and low in simple sugars to maintain a steady blood sugar level. By reducing or eliminating caffeine, alcohol, salt, fats and simple sugars will help to reduce bloating, fatigue, tension and depression.
Daily supplementation with vitamins and minerals may help to relieve some of the symptoms. Exercise is also helpful to reduce stress and tension, acts as a mood elevator, provides a sense of well-being and improves circulation. With doctor approval, exercising 3 times a week for 20-30 minutes will activate the benefits of exercise.
Psychiatric treatment of PMS was popular since the 1930s. Psychiatrists portrayed women as the weaker sex and in need of treatment for their hysterical complaints. The problem with using psychiatric drugs is that they leave the women groggy, forgetful and not communicative. The treatment doesn’t address the underlying hormonal issues. For this reason the treatment isn’t used for more than one or two cycles.
Pharmacological treatment of the symptoms of PMS has relied on hormonal medications since 1953. Doctors and researchers acknowledge the reality of PMS and understand the close relationship between hormonal fluctuations and physical symptoms.
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