An average of five out of every 10 women may suffer some physical and emotional distress during the two-week interval between ovulation and menstruation. Dubbed the premenstrual syndrome (PMS), or premenstrual tension (PMT), the condition is now recognized and treated medically.
Physical symptoms of PMS include:
- Bloated abdomen
- Swollen, tender breasts
- Weight gain: sometimes up to 3 kg
- Headaches, often on one side
- Craving for sweet, high carbohydrate foods
- Pimples, boils, spontaneous bruises, clumsiness, dizziness, or faintness
- Exacerbation of asthma, epilepsy, migraine, conjunctivitis, and contact lens irritation
Among Emotional Symptoms of PMS are:
- Tension, anxiety, depression, tearfulness, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, irritability, and inability to make decisions
- Violent mood swings
- Some loss of confidence and disinterest in sex, work, and social life
Theories And Treatment Of PMS
No single cause for PMS has yet been identified. A number of theories, however, have been proposed and have led to successful treatment. Sometimes more than one treatment must be tried, but with trial and error, a great measure of relief can usually be found. It is important that any treatment is approved by your doctor.
One theory is that PMS is caused by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen levels normally rise until ovulation occurs, then fall, but research has shown that in 40 per cent of PMS sufferers estrogen levels remain high in the second half of the menstrual cycle while progesterone levels are abnormally low. The treatment consists of doses of progesterone, which reduce fluid retention, breast tenderness, headaches, spontaneous bruising, and nausea, and also relieve many of the emotional symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.
Another theory is that women with PMS suffer from low levels of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), which works on many parts of the body, including the brain and the pituitary gland – the menstrual trigger – and on the body’s response to stress. This deficiency lowers the output of progesterone and estrogen. Doctors who advocate this theory treat PMS with vitamin B6 tablets from three days before the symptoms start, up to menstruation.
There is strong support for the theory that an excess of prostaglandin hormones causes nausea, moodiness, and water retention. Treatments with anti-prostaglandin drugs have achieved good results.
Other treatments include synthetic diuretics, which help to relieve water retention; tranquillizers; antidepressants; and treatment with the pill. These last three, however, have made symptoms worse in some cases.
Natural Remedies For Premenstrual Syndrome
- Many women have found relief through self-help. There is a plan of action you can adopt:
- Try to plan your life so that you do not put yourself under strain premenstrual
- Reduce water retention by reducing your intake of sodium
- Don’t worry about the temporary weight gain; you will lose retained water naturally during the menstrual period
- Keep food cravings in check; weight gained by eating large quantities of chocolate or other sweet foods will not be so temporary
- Lift your mood by planning to go to a concert, a play, or the movies
- Take up yoga, relaxation, or meditation to relieve tension
- Take extra care if you are prone to accidents, dizziness or fainting
- Do some aerobic exercise, such as running or swimming
- Alert your family and friends so that they are more understanding
- Develop an awareness of the symptoms and try to exert more self-control
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