There’s nothing more stressful than waking up one day feeling bloated and tired with swollen or tender breasts plus experiencing either headache or backache. Adding acne breakouts, trouble sleeping and those food cravings (yes, I know the appetite suddenly rocketed) makes it even worst! – These symptoms are experienced by women (except for those who go through menopause and pregnant) every month prior to menstruation and is commonly termed as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
What is a Premenstrual Syndrome?
PMS is a group of symptoms commonly associated to the cycle of menstruation occurring about 1 to 2 weeks before your period starts. Once bleeding has started the symptoms are usually gone. Although the symptoms of PMS are mentioned above, its effect may vary from one woman to another. For instance, some are not bothered by PMS while others feels sick and find it hard to get through the day.
The Causes of PMS
Up to now, it is not yet clear what causes PMS. However, there are few factors linked to its occurrence. Hormonal changes during a woman’s monthly cycle is one major factor. Another consideration is the chemical changes in the brain. Unlike what most people believed, stress and emotional problems are not causes of PMS though they may aggravate the symptoms experienced. Other possible factors linked to the causes of PMS are poor intake of vitamins and minerals, high salt content in the diet that causes fluid to be retained in the body and high intake of alcohol and caffeine which are known to alter a person’s energy level and mood.
Symptoms Linked to PMS
Did you know? – About 150 symptoms are linked to PMS. These symptoms vary from one cycle to another and it could get worst when a woman is under stress:
- Weight gain
- Back pain
- Muscle and joint pains
- Changes in appetite – cravings for sweet and salty foods
- Sleeping too much or trouble sleeping for other women
- Poor sex drive
- Constipation for some women while diarrhea for others
- Breast tenderness
Mood and Behavior Symptoms
- Depressed mood
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
It is important to keep in mind that these symptoms go away on the first three days of menstrual bleeding.
Ways to Manage Premenstrual Syndrome
- Keep a record of your menstrual cycle. To manage PMS it is important to first learn about your menstrual cycle. It’s like making a ‘menstrual diary’ and writing down what day you experience the symptoms. Jot down the type of symptoms experienced, the severity and the date of your menstruation. Once you identify your cycle pattern you can then devise a strategy to cope up with the symptoms.
- Lifestyle Changes
- Diet modification. A healthy balanced diet can help control PMS symptoms if maintained regularly. Eating smaller meals helps to alleviate bloating. In addition, bloating is also managed by avoiding salty foods as salt increases the retention of fluid in the body. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily is helpful in hydrating the body thereby preventing headaches and tiredness which are the symptoms of poor body hydration. Steer clear from coffee and alcoholic beverages too as they can alter a person’s mood.
- Regular exercise. Overall, exercise improves a person’s overall health. Additionally, it also pumps up a person’s mood combating depressed mood and feelings of tiredness. It is advisable to have a goal of doing at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly like walking and swimming.
- Get Enough Sleep. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night to reduce stress levels.
- Pain Management. To manage pain, women can drink an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), a type of pain medication such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen. It is advisable to take the medication about 1-2 days before the expected period. To manage breast tenderness causing slight discomfort or pain for some women, wearing a supportive bra can help.
- Stress Reduction Strategies. For some people massage is one best way to relax while for some doing yoga release their stress. It is entirely up to you which relaxation strategy to employ. What is important is doing them regularly to prevent burnout or flaring up just before your menses. A better time management is a good practice to keep those stress away too.
It is worth mentioning again how PMS disappears after menses start and it reappears on the next ovulation date. If you experience the symptoms above and they persist to appear even after menses it may not be PMS and perhaps it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.