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Premenstrual syndrome

The premenstrual syndrome, PMS for short, is a combination of symptoms that some women of reproductive-age experience for about a week before their period. Symptoms appear up to five days before the period starts and go away when menstruating. These symptoms can affect the body and brain and vary in intensity from woman to woman and impact their personal relationships and occupational activities.

It is not known what causes PMS but changes in hormone levels may affect some women more than others. The Mayo Clinic estimates that 75% of women have at least some form of PMS. Although not all women have it, PMS symptoms can also last beyond their period.

Extremely variable, the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) range from a simple headache to pain in the breasts, to mood disorders.

PMS symptoms

Symptoms can both be physical and mental.

Physical symptoms

These can include:

  • Swollen or tender breasts.

  • Cramping.

  • Headache or backache.

  • Constipation or diarrhoea.

  • Bloating or a gassy feeling.

  • Clumsiness.

  • Lower tolerance for noise or light.

Emotional or mental symptoms

  • Particularly disabling emotional or mental disorders, include:

  • Irritability.

  • Anxiety or tension.

  • Mood swings.

  • Deep sadness, crying spells or depression.

  • Sleep problems.

  • Feeling tired.

  • Appetite changes or food cravings.

  • Concentration or memory troubles.

What to do if you think you suffer from PMS?

If you think you suffer from PMS, please consult your doctor.

The following could also help alleviate the symptoms:

  • Get regular exercise or physical activity throughout the month - as this can ease symptoms of depression, concentration difficulty and fatigue.

  • Choose healthy eating - A study shows that healthy lifestyle can reduce the symptoms, therefore avoiding foods and drinks with caffeine, salt, and sugar in the two weeks before your period may lessen many PMS symptoms.

  • Get enough sleep - try to get about eight hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep is linked to depression and anxiety and can make PMS symptoms such as moodiness worse.

  • Find healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety - talk to friends. Some women also find yoga or meditation helpful.

  • Avoid smoking - A study reported that women who smoked reported more PMS symptoms and worse PMS symptoms than women who did not smoke.

Further information

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