Premenstrual syndrome or PMS refers to physical and emotional symptoms that some women experience in the lead up to menstruation. Symptoms often occur in the one to two weeks beforehand and stop once bleeding begins.
PMS can interfere with day-to-day activities and relationships and the severity is often measured based on this.
There are more than 150 symptoms associated with PMS and they range from physical, behavioural, emotional, and cognitive.
The most common symptoms are:
It is not known what causes PMS. There are a lot of factors that may contribute to PMS and increase the symptoms and many of them related to the hormonal changes our bodies go through.
Some of the factors that may contribute to PMS are:
There are no tests to diagnose PMS. We need to look at medical history and well us understand all the symptoms a woman is experiencing.
To help understand and identify whether you have PMS it is recommended you keep a diary which includes period dates and any symptoms you experience during the month. You will need to keep track of this information for at least 2 months and then discuss it with your GP who you can work through the next steps with.
There are ways to reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS, through lifestyle and dietary changes as well as hormones, supplements and medications.
Some things you can do include:
Hormones, supplements and medications should be discussed with your GP.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS which affects 2% of women worldwide. It can be debilitating and most women with PMDD have symptoms of anger, irritability, anxiety and depression.
While many of the symptoms are similar to PMS they are usually far more intense and women with PMDD experience psychological distress as well as:
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is also diagnosed with a similar method to PMS diagnoses, examination and exploration of your diary of events. To be diagnosed with PMDD you must have 5 or more symptoms.
PMDD is often treated with medication and lifestyle changes. From antidepressants to contraception medication which stop ovulation, your GP will discuss the treatment plan once diagnosed.
If you have concerns about your symptoms and your feelings in the lead up to your period, I recommend first starting a diary to keep a record of what is happening.
Next step is to make an appointment with your GP who will be able to help further.