The Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is defined as the set of symptoms -emotional and physical- that occur in a woman a few days or up to two weeks before menstruation.
It is estimated that 80% of women of childbearing age experience one or more of the premenstrual symptoms. Most women do not suffer from symptoms that can affect their quality of life, as they disappear after the onset of menstruation. However, for a group of women, the symptoms can significantly disrupt their routine. In the case of severe emotional symptoms, we are dealing with the condition described as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
As mentioned above, the symptoms are classified as physical and emotional. The following symptoms effect women physically:
• Breast tenderness
• Aches and joint pain
• Edema of hands and feet
• Craving for carbs and sugar
• Weight gain
• Abdominal pain
On the other hand, emotional symptoms include the following:
• Lack of concentration
• Mood swings
• Insomnia or drowsiness
• Changes in sexual drive
• Low libido
It is worth mentioning that there are conditions ehich imitate the Premenstrual Syndrome symptoms. Diagnosis of these conditions is difficult before menstruation, as their existence is confused with the symptoms of PMS. However, these are situations that continue throughout the menstrual cycle, in contrast to PMS.
The exact causes of the Premenstrual Syndrome are not known. Certainly, changes in hormonal levels during the cycle affect the onset of symptoms and there are clearly variations in their manifestation in the female population. It has been observed that low levels of progesterone, in combination with elevated estrogen levels are responsible for the mood swings during the days leading up to menstruation.
Factors that can worsen the symptoms include increased caffeine and alcohol consumption, smoking, increased stress levels, family history and co-existing depression. Nutrition also plays an important role, especially when there is a reduced intake of vitamins and other elements, such as magnesium and vitamin E.
Wellness and a healthy lifestyle that combines exercise and a balanced diet can alleviate the onset of PMS. Low glycemic index foods such as whole grain carbohydrates, fiber rich foods, vitamin B6 and magnesium can help reduce severe symptoms.
For more information about the Premenstrual Syndrome and the treatment of the symptoms that severely affect your daily life, consult the obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Melina Stasinou.