PMS: More than Mood Swings and Cravings

At least three out of four menstruating women show symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

PMS signs and symptoms include bloating, food cravings, fatigue, nausea, irritability, depression, mood swings and tender breasts.

While the exact causes of PMS are still up for debate in the medical and research arenas, the physical and emotional symptoms associated with menstruation are thought to be related to but not necessarily caused by hormonal changes.

PMS symptoms tend to begin five-to-10 days before menstruation and end when bleeding starts.

PMS Signs and Symptoms

Researchers have identified more than 150 signs and symptoms for premenstrual syndrome but most women only experience a few of them.

The most common PMS symptoms include:

    • abdominal cramping
    • bloating
    • food cravings (usually sweet)
    • moodiness
    • depression
    • headaches
    • sore breasts
    • fatigue
    • acne

Should I call the Doctor?

PMS symptoms can be a problem. Yet most women do not need to see a doctor as PMS signs and symptoms will usually disappear with the start of the menstrual period.

A small number of women suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS. PMDD symptoms are severe and debilitating. They include physical and psychological symptoms that affect a woman’s day-to-day activities and require medical treatment.

PMDD symptoms include anxiety, depression, anger, feeling overwhelmed, difficulty concentrating, irritability, paranoia and issues with self-image, coordination difficulties and tension.

Talking to a doctor is a good first step. There are treatments for some PMS and PMDD symptoms.

A PMS diagnosis is usually made through tracking monthly symptoms. Doctors used to treating PMS or PMDD will use your monthly symptoms to find patterns and create a tailor-made treatment program for you.

PMS treatment options

Every woman is different and every woman with PMS symptoms needs her own treatment.

Treatment examples:

    • Good diet – Try to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Cutting down on salt intake and adding more fluids to your diet can help prevent bloating. Cutting down on sugar and alcohol can lower food cravings.
    • Calcium – Studies show that taking calcium carbonate supplements can reduce symptoms of moodiness, depression, food craving and pain. The calcium supplement is also good for preventing and treating osteoporosis.
    • Pain relievers — Over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen have shown to reduce cramps, headaches and muscle pain.
    • Reducing stress – PMS sufferers have reported that stress can make symptoms worse. So, find an exercise or relaxation technique that you like to keep your symptoms in check. Endorphins, natural painkillers produced in the brain, are released during physical activity.
    • Antidepressants – Studies show that women suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder respond well to low doses of antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa).
    • Vitamin supplements – Research has shown that certain vitamin supplements – magnesium, iron, and the vitamins B6 and E – can be used to lessen premenstrual symptoms.
    • Special formulas – New over-the-counter non-prescription formulas are now available to help alleviate the symptoms of PMS.

Always consult with your doctor before starting any treatment.

Knowing when your menstrual cycle is meant to take place and keeping track of any PMS symptoms can make a big difference in your life.


What to Expect from Your Menstrual Cycle

Menstrual cycles tell women a lot about their bodies, so observing closely can give them insight on what their bodies may be communicating. The main function of a woman’s menstrual cycle is to prepare her body for pregnancy. When a woman reaches menopause, she no longer gets her period or produces eggs and hormones to become pregnant.

During a woman’s menstrual cycle, hormone levels rise and fall according to each phase of the cycle. These hormone fluctuations can be accompanied by changes in mood and energy levels (but do not necessarily cause them).

Your Menstrual Cycle Explained

Phase 1: Menstruation

The first day of a woman’s cycle starts when she gets her period. During this time, many women experience cramps, bloating and some pain. In some instances, women get severe headaches or fatigue. On this first day of the cycle, the uterus lining, which had built up to prepare for hosting a fertilized egg, begins to break down and is shed. This is the cause for the discomfort. Normal periods last between three and seven days.

Phase 2: Egg Formation

Phase 2 of the cycle occurs when the woman’s period ends. Hormones encourage the female ovaries to begin the process of creating eggs. During this process, a woman’s uterus begins to thicken to get ready to receive and nurture a fertilized egg.

During this stage, women may feel slightly happier than other times of the month.

Phase 3: Ovulation

When an egg is fully grown, ovulation occurs; the egg is released into one of woman’s two fallopian tubes and it then travels to the uterus. (Even though multiple eggs may grow in the ovaries, typically, only one is released per month.) A woman is most fertile during the ovulation time window of 12-24 hours, while the egg is travelling from the fallopian tube to the uterus. Should a sperm come into contact with the egg within this ovulation window, the sperm can fertilize the egg and the woman may become pregnant. The ovulation process may cause a spike in a woman’s sex drive and her happier mood may continue.

Phase 4: The Luteal Phase

The luteal phase is considered the end of a woman’s cycle. The egg has travelled to the womb and the female body then produces the progesterone hormone, which further aids in building up the uterus lining to provide necessary support for a fertilized egg. However, if the egg fails to fertilize, the uterus doesn’t need the extra lining in the uterus, and the lining will prepare to break down (in preparation for returning to the first phase of the menstrual cycle). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is most likely to occur during this phase, a time in which many women tend to feel more emotional, irritable, vulnerable and sensitive. Perhaps this is why many women crave chocolate or why they feel the Kleenex needs to be closer than usual this month!

By understanding these natural body phases, you may have better insights into your feelings. You may be able to tune your lifestyle to support your health and your mood during these stages, by getting the right diet, exercise, rest and encouragement from friends, and managing stress.


This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.




PMS Symptoms Based on Your Age

PMS Symptoms Based on Your Age

When aunt flow comes to visit, most of us are graced with the signs beforehand. More often than not, the signs aren’t subtle and we never look forward to them. These unwelcome signals alert us to that time of month, which come in depression, anxiety and trouble concentrating, or best of all, they tend to be displayed in an unflattering presentation of bloated tummies or tired bags under our eyes – proving the fatigued days we have had to face.

However, not all of us have to face these symptoms and some of us only deal with a few. So the question is, what are the PMS symptoms based on your age and do they ever really end prior to menopause?

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is essentially the symptoms that occur in the female body before menstruation begins. Unfortunately the symptoms aren’t pretty; PMS causes irritability, tiredness, and headaches, lack of confidence, skin breakouts and oh so many more symptoms. Some discomfort can be remedied with pain relievers, but many symptoms are not so easily treated, and unfortunately women can expect to see them again in the months to follow.

PMS Symptoms in Your Teens

Experiencing your first menstrual cycle may possibly be the most alarming phase of adulthood. The symptoms in teens tend to be more severe as their adolescent bodies aren’t used to the hormone adjustment. Mood swings and irritability levels are higher than those of women who are past puberty. Some symptoms can be treated with sleep and rest, but with school, exams and other day to day stress, experiencing relief without the aid of medication is a rarity.

PMS Symptoms in Adulthood

During the ages of 20 to 30, women tend to experience a rollercoaster of premenstrual pains, moods and other factors affecting their day-to-day life. This is commonly influenced by lifestyle related to sleeping, eating, stress and birth control use. Women who lead more active lifestyles and women who eat healthier tend to experience less unwanted effects from their menstrual cycle as opposed to those who drink, smoke or live stressful lives.

PMS Symptoms in Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the time in a women’s life about 5 to 10 years before menopause begins. Many women who are in their 40s have claimed that whatever symptoms they experienced in their younger years are heightened in their 40s. One difference is that during a woman’s forties, her period may become more irregular and symptoms are probably a welcome warning sign as to what is about to approach in the week ahead.

Although a woman’s body changes through the course of her life, one thing remains constant – her cycle, which eventually evolves into menopause. In this transition, no two women are the same; some see menopause as a beautiful stage of life and others do not welcome it!