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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Facts

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The PMS Test

Do you find yourself kicking your cat, dog, or kids for no good reason? Do you hate your man simply because he possesses the Y chromosome and you don't? Do you envy any woman that has had a hysterectomy? If you do, you might be suffering from Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).


What is PMS?

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) affects up to 40% of women of childbearing age.Premenstrual Syndrome occurs after ovulation, usually 7-10 days before the onset of menstruation. There are more than 100 symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome. Most PMS symptoms are fairly mild.

A small percentage of women suffer from severe PMS. This severe PMS is called Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In addition to the usual bloating, breast tenderness, headache, etc. women with Premenstrual dysphoric disorder also experience severe mood swings, anxiety and tension, depression, lethargy, appetite changes, excessive sleepiness or insomnia.

Premenstrual Syndrome is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The levels of a neurotransmitter called seratonin fluctuate due to hormonal changes. Seratonin, among other things, regulates mood, appetite, and energy levels. Women who suffer from PMS have lower seratonin in their blood stream. Raising the seratonin level alleviates the symptoms of PMS.


How Can I Alleviate My PMS Symptoms?

Premenstrual Syndrome can be controlled through several therapies that are fairly simple to adhere to. These are:

  • Dietary Changes. Increasing the intake of complex carbohydrates has shown to increase the seratonin level. Eating several small meals a day helps. It has long been held that eliminating sodium and coffee exacerbate PMS, but studies have shown that this is not necessarily so. Some women, because of breast tenderness, find that eliminating or cutting down on caffeine helps. Some studies say that radical sodium reduction is not necessary and may be counter-productive.
  • Exercise. It has been proven that regular exercising releases endorphins. Endorphins are naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that elevate moods. Even 20 minutes of exercise a day, three times a week running, biking, or brisk walking helps to release endorphins. Exercise also helps to reduce stress and depression via endorphin release.
  • Light Therapy. Get outside as much as possible, especially on sunny days. On overcast days, or especially during winter evenings, brightly lit rooms can help reduce PMS-induced depression. If possible, exposure to early morning light combined with exercise for 20-30 minutes has been found to be very beneficial.
  • Supplements. Dietary Supplements such as calcium, B vitamins and magnesium help to alleviate PMS. Calcium supplements lessen PMS symptoms such as bloating and irritability. Calcium carbonate (such as those found in antacids) taken daily has been proven to help many women. B vitamins and magnesium helps to metabolize estrogen properly through the liver.
  • Massage. Massage helps some women by promoting relaxation, relief from pain, and reducing stress. Since it is not feasible for most of us to visit a masseuse every four weeks, there are many good massagers and massage oils that can be used at home.
  • Over the counter products. There are many over the counter products that contain acetaminophen that often provide relief from PMS. Many of these products are aspirin free and caffeine free.

As with any treatments it is always a good idea to consult with your health care provider prior to changes in diet and exercise.






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