All Women's Care (AWC) is a full-service healthcare center that is committed to providing comprehensive healthcare for women as they progress through different stages of womanhood. We offer an entire spectrum of women’s healthcare services in and around the Los Angeles area. The staff is trained and experienced in various aspects of women’s health, including premenstrual syndrome, and is committed to providing exceptional medical care in a supportive and respectful environment. Promoting the need for communication between doctors and incorporating the most up-to-date procedures and protocols, we tailor all treatments to a woman’s individuals needs and desires.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): An Overview
A period (aka menstruation) is a natural part of a woman's life. Every woman gets some signs and symptoms before her period occurs. While most women may get their period with mild premenstrual symptoms, for some, the symptoms may be more discomforting and severe.
Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS in short, is a combination of physical, emotional or behavioral symptoms that many women get typically between ovulation and the start of a period. The duration of PMS symptoms varies from woman to woman, and generally, it may be a week or two prior to their period. The symptoms appear in the second half of a woman's menstrual cycle, typically four to six days before the period and disappear with the onset of her menstrual flow. Sometimes, these symptoms may take two to three days to disappear, even after the bleeding starts.
Most women say that they experience some kind of premenstrual symptoms; however, the degrees of severity among the women may vary. Some women may have milder symptoms which are not much bothering, while some may have symptoms that may require a doctor’s help. The premenstrual symptoms can affect women’s bodies on many levels, including physical and emotional levels, which can often result in mood and body changes before or during the period. For some women, PMS symptoms can even mess with their daily lives.
Generally, women in their 30s are most likely to have PMS, but any women between late 20s to mid-40scan have PMS. However, the pattern of symptoms in every woman may change over time. PMS symptoms tend to get worse during your late 30s or 40s and are in the transition to menopause, called perimenopause. This is more common for women that are sensitive to change in hormonal levels during the menstrual cycle. These hormonal changes may result in rapid changes in mood. As a woman’s body slowly transitions towards menopause, the hormone levels start to fluctuate unpredictably, which may result in getting the same mood changes or sometimes with other conditions to make it worse.
If you have PMS, you may get various symptoms before your period, which would eventually go away as soon as your period starts. PMS stops after menopause when you no longer get a period.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Some women get mild symptoms which aren’t so bothering, but for some women, these symptoms can be so severe that they start to affect their daily life.The list of potential signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome is extensive. However, PMS symptoms are different for every woman. You may experience physical symptoms or emotional symptoms, or a mix of both. It is common to have some of the symptoms, but not others, and it may also change from month to month. It’s different for every woman.
Physical Signs and Symptoms of PMS
Before the menstrual period starts, women may experience physical changes in their bodies. Women also sometimes experience appetite changes, which could be loss of appetite or get an upset stomach.Some women can also have cravings—often for sweet or salty foods—when PMS strikes. Instances of abdominal bloating, constipation, and cramps are also common symptoms of PMS on days before a period. Acne flare-up is another noticeable symptom of PMS, which breakout due to hormonal changes inside the body, causing glands in the skin to secrete more sebum. Different types of pains and aches can be triggered due to PMS, such as joint and back pains as well as headache. Other physical signs and symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome include swollen or tender breasts, fast heartbeat, hot flashes, swollen hands or feet, and weight gain.
Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms of PMS
Many women think that the most terrible part of PMS is its erratic impact on mood. You may feel abrupt changes in mood, irritability, crying spells, anger outbursts, anxiety and depression in the duration of one or two weeks before the bleeding. Some females also complain about memory troubles and poor concentration during these days. Other emotional signs and symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome include over sensitivity, social withdrawal, sleep issues (insomnia or increased nap taking) and change in libido, leading to a lack of sex drive.
Furthermore, any changes in the female body that get in the way of her regular life, or disrupt work or personal relationships may be a sign or symptom of a more severe form of PMS, called PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). While over 85% of women experience PMS symptoms at some point in their lives, PMDD is rare and has been reported by only 3 to 8 percent of menstruating women. A woman must have 5 or more PMS symptoms to be diagnosed with PMDD. The symptoms are mostly the same as PMS, including bloating, mood changes, fatigue, but the intensity may be high.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, PMDD is a severe form of PMS that is characterized by high prominence of irritability, anger, and anxiety or tension in women. You must see a doctor or gynecologist if you are getting signs and symptoms of severe PMS. The risk of PMDD may be higher in women with a personal or family history of depression, trauma, or mood disorders.
Since so many women experience many types of PMS symptoms with varying degrees of severity, it is difficult to clearly tell if someone just has a few symptoms, or is it really PMS. According to experts, premenstrual syndrome is found more commonly in women who have high levels of stress, a family history of depression, or other mood disorder.
Causes of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
It could be surprising for most people to know, but the truth is that no one really knows the exact reason behind the occurrence of PMS. Doctors and scientists are not very clear about the exact cause of premenstrual syndrome. Several theories have been put forth to explain the cause of premenstrual syndrome, but none of these theories have been proven.
However, researchers believe that symptoms of PMS are triggered during the time between ovulation and start of menstrual flow due to some kind of hormonal (estrogen and progesterone) imbalance, which results from the alterations in or interactions between the levels of brain chemicals and sex hormones, known as neurotransmitters.
Several things aggravate these hormonal imbalances, for instance, the consumption of too many salty foods, a high-sugar refined carbohydrate diet, dairy, and caffeine. Alcohol consumption and constipation may also contribute to making PMS symptoms even worse.
As soon as the period starts, the hormone levels begin to find their balance back, and that is why PMS symptoms go away within a few days. The symptoms for PMS do not occur when you get pregnant or after you reach menopause.
How is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)Diagnosed?
Every three in four women get PMS symptoms at some point in their lifetime. However, if you consider clinically significant PMS—moderate to severe in intensity and affect a woman’s functioning—it occurs in around 20 to 30 percent of women. Even today, specific treatment for PMS lacks a solid scientific base.
A helpful diagnostic tool for PMS is a menstrual diary, which can be used by menstruating women to record their physical and emotional symptoms over two to three months. If you experience the symptoms regularly occurring for two to three months in a row during the last four to five days of your period and persists until or end within three to four days of the menstrual flow starts, it is probably hinting towards a diagnosis of PMS. Maintaining your menstrual cycle records with symptoms can also help your doctor or gynecologist in making a more accurate diagnosis. The self-care diagnosis of PMS also allows the patient to understand her condition better and can learn to better deal with the symptoms in the future.
It is sometimes hard to distinguish symptoms of PMS from other medical and psychological conditions that mimic PMS or intersect with PMS symptoms. PMS must be distinguished from other disorders that may have similar symptoms. Some examples of conditions that mimic or overlap with PMS may include depression, anxiety, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and perimenopause. The existence of these conditions makes the diagnosis of PMS even more difficult! Most women seeking relief from PMS are already suffering from one of these health problems—the most common being depression and anxiety. The symptoms in conditions of depression and anxiety are much similar to the emotional symptoms associated with PMS.
The only way of how a doctor can differentiate and diagnose PMS is by finding out if the symptoms in question are present throughout the month and if they aggravate before or during their periods. If the symptoms simply go away after the menstrual flow, then it should be diagnosed as PMS, while on the other hand, if the symptoms persist all through the month, then PMS may not point towards a proper diagnosis. However, PMS can still be present and worsen symptoms related to other conditions right before a woman’s menstrual period. Other conditions may include asthma, migraines, seizure disorders, and allergies.
No laboratory tests or unique physical findings can help in the determination of whether or not a woman has PMS. These tests can only help the doctor or healthcare professional rule out other potential causes that mimicked symptoms of PMS.
The diagnosis of PMS can also be made through the use of prescribed medications that stop ovarian function. If these drugs provide relief from the bothersome symptoms, then it is most likely that PMS is the diagnosis.
What Can You do to Manage PMS?
PMS cannot be prevented or avoided; however, any woman suffering from PMS can do things to find relief from its symptoms. Even though there is no real “cure” for PMS, mild to moderate symptoms of PMS can be relieved by changes in your diet and lifestyle. Food and lifestyle changes can help you cut down on the discomfort. However, symptoms of PMS that interfere with your life may demand medical attention. The severity of symptoms decides the level of treatment. In cases of severe PMS symptoms, medication is recommended.
If you have tried many things but still experience severe PMS, it is time to get help from a doctor.If your symptoms are disrupting your personal or professional life, or getting in the way of your daily activities, this is a sign of getting immediate help from a doctor or gynecologist.If you ever have self-harming thoughts, immediately call 911 or seek emergency medical care.
PMS Remedies: Ways to Find Relief from PMS Symptoms
While you may feel there is nothing you can do about your painful and discomforting premenstrual symptoms, they can be treated.Different techniques work for different women, but the basic idea is to follow a healthy lifestyle. Even if you can’t fix PMS symptoms completely, it’s nice to know that you can help yourself in finding relief.
Incorporating exercise into your routine can be a great way to tackle mood swings and deal with body fatigue. Staying physically active is important for balancing hormones and improve general health. Don’t just exercise for the day when you get PMS symptoms, make it a habit to find the benefits.
Moderate physical activity (aerobic exercise) for at least 30 minutes, four to five times a week can help limit PMS symptoms. Aerobic exercises may include running, brisk walking, cycling, and swimming.Such exercises are believed to release endorphins, which affect mood, memory, cognition abilities, and pain. A vigorous workout on select days can also be effective. And yes, don’t forget to drink lots of water!
According to a study on women, it was found that those who did 1-hour aerobic sessions three times a week for eight weeks felt much healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Stress and premenstrual syndrome never make a good combination for a woman’s point of view.Your doctor or gynecologist might suggest you some relaxation therapies to reduce stress and control effects of PMS symptoms.Various relaxation therapies suggested to relieve PMS symptoms include meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. These activities help reduce stress or anxiety, which makes a big part of managing your PMS symptoms. Engagement in regular yoga programs have shown good improvement in menstrual pain, bloating, and cramps in women.Certain yoga poses like cobra, fish, and cat are well-known to ease painful cramping associated with PMS. You might also want to try massage therapy to help lessen symptoms of PMS.
Other therapies that may help include biofeedback, acupuncture, homeopathy, and self-hypnosis. Simply talking to friends and receiving emotional support from family and friends can also help you relax and treat PMS symptoms naturally.
Having a proper sleep for at least seven to eight hours is also crucial for a woman suffering from PMS symptoms. Disciplined sleeping habits can also help you with finding relief from other PMS symptoms.
Eating a well-balanced diet is the key even when it comes to managing or reducing the symptoms of PMS. Modifying your food choices and eating habits can help reduce or control symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Symptoms like intense food cravings and bad moods can be controlled by boosting the intake of complex carbohydrates in your diet. PMS-fighting complex carbs tend to enter the bloodstream slowing over time and aid in curbing cravings and leveling off your mood. In addition to fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, a diet abundant in complex carbs may include beans, whole grains, and barley.
Try to add more vitamin D and calcium to your régime by the consumption of reduced-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese to reduce PMS symptoms. You may opt for vitamin D and calcium supplements if you don’t eat dairy products. If tender breasts, swollen feet, and hand, or bloating are included in your PMS symptoms, it is recommended to cut back salt in your diet. Women with PMS are also advised to increase the consumption of omega-3 fats with more intake of wild fish like wild salmon, herring, and sardines. Omega-3 eggs and walnuts also provide a high amount of omega-3 fats.
Consumption of caffeine and alcohol can play a role in disrupting your sleep patterns and thus contribute to making your PMS symptoms worse. While a proper intake of all nutrients is vital for a healthy lifestyle, getting enough of iron is essential before and during your period.Iron-rich diet, including lean meats, can compensate for the loss of iron during menstruating days and help reduce the risk of getting anemia.
For mild symptoms of PMS, exercise, or modified food diet can help. However, if the symptoms are moderate to severe, it might help to see a doctor. After proper examination and hearing about your medical history and other symptoms, your doctor can suggest you some medications. Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs may be taken for easing some of the physical symptoms of PMS, including cramps, back pain, headaches, joint pain, or breast tenderness. Commonly suggested over-the-counternonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that work well for such symptoms include naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. If you take them before your menstrual cycle starts, they may even prevent some of these symptoms from occurring.
In cases where over-the-counter pain relievers don’t help, your doctor may prescribe you some other drugs, probably stronger than OTC drugs. Prescription medicines, such as hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills) may help lessen your physical symptoms. You may need to try a few of these before finding one that works for you. Antidepressants may be helpful for some women in minimizing PMS symptoms as they help control severe mood swings or PMDD. They can be taken two weeks before the start of your period or throughout the menstrual cycle. For women who retain water during PMS can be prescribed a diuretic that helps reduce fluid buildup and shed the extra water weight by peeing more often.
All medicines may have associated risks that could worsen your other PMS symptoms. You must talk to your doctor and share the details of other medications that you are taking, especially NSAIDs. The interaction between NSAIDs and diuretics simultaneously can have side-effects on your kidneys.
Research studies suggest that dietary supplements rich in vitamins and minerals can provide relief in PMS symptoms. Taking vitamin supplements rich in calcium and magnesium may help reduce some of the physical and emotional symptoms associated with PMS. Additional supplementation like folic acid, vitamin B-6, vitamin E, vitamin D can also help alleviate some symptoms of PMS. It is essential to consult your doctor before taking any new vitamins or supplements. Taking the excess amounts of supplements or taking them in combination with other medications may be harmful.
Find an OB-GYN Specializing in Premenstrual Syndrome Near Me
It is estimated that about 85 percent of women in the world experience at least some form of PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle. If you or a loved one has severe signs and symptoms of PMS, you may want to discuss the complications and PMS symptoms with an experienced OB-GYN at a well-reputed women’s healthcare center like All Women’s Care. Our doctors and staff are dedicated to providing excellent, state-of-the-art health care for women in all stages of life. If you are a resident in the Los Angeles area, call us at 213-250-9461 and schedule an appointment with our skilled and experienced OB-GYN doctors to find relief from PMS symptoms and lead a happy, healthy life.