Carolyn DeMarco, MD
Ninety per cent of women in the reproductive age group experience premenstrual symptoms of some sort. Half of these women experience only mild premenstrual symptoms. Most of the other half suffer from symptoms serious enough to interfere significantly with their lives.
Ninety percent of women in the reproductive age group experience premenstrual symptoms of some sort. Half of these women experience only mild premenstrual symptoms. Most of the other half suffer from symptoms serious enough to interfere significantly with their lives. Five to 12 percent will experience severe, incapacitating premenstrual syndrome. This means that they feel out of control, hate themselves, their mates, their kids. They may fly into rages or be suicidally depressed.
Physical symptoms of PMS include breast swelling and tenderness; weight gain; abdominal bloating; constipation or diarrhea; headaches; acne or other skin eruptions; eye problems; joint and muscle pains; sugar and salt cravings; increased appetite; fatigue; heart pounding; poor co-ordination; nausea; menopausal-like hot sweats and chills; dizziness; changes in sex drive (either more or less); sensitivity to noise; restlessness and insomnia.
Emotional symptoms include mood swings; anxiety; irritability; unexplained crying; anger, rage, loss of control, inward anger and physical or verbal aggression towards others; depression, withdrawal, suicidal thoughts; nightmares; forgetfulness, confusion or decreased concentration.
These symptoms may have other causes than premenstrual tension. Taking time to investigate where they’re coming from is key to solving your symptoms.
A PMS Diary?
Charting or keeping track of how you feel both physically and emotionally in relationship to your menstrual cycle is the key to the diagnosis of PMS.
Write down your symptoms every day, rating how severe they are, for at least two to three months. Note the time of your period every month and major stresses that month. If all your symptoms are clustered in the two weeks before your period and seriously affected your life, then you probably have PMS.
On the other hand, if your symptoms stay the same throughout your whole cycle, you may be suffering from another medical or psychological problem and should go to your doctor for a complete assessment. For example, anemia caused by the loss of blood during menstruation can also cause symptoms similar to premenstrual syndrome. An organic liquid iron supplement is helpful.
Sometimes the problem is a bad marriage or work situation. When the underlying issues are addressed, symptoms may lessen or even disappear.
Chronic yeast infections can cause or worsen PMS and must be treated before other treatments are attempted.
Dr Nora Brayshaw of the Biopsychiatry Institute in New Jersey found the thyroid gland was mildly underactive in 94 percent of women with PMS who were tested. Those who took steps to correct this problem reported complete relief from the symptoms.
Stress is by far the most important component of premenstrual tension. Take practical measures to reduce stress in your life, learn relaxation techniques, enlist the help of family and friends, and seek counselling when necessary.
PMS may be a message that you have to pay more attention to your natural rhythms and become less subservient to the needs of others. At times, this may require you to express your frustration, clearly communicate your needs, insist others pull their weight in the household and arrange privacy and quiet time alone. Understand your needs and take control of your health. PMS might just go away.