By Neha Garg
What is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMMD)?
Premenstrual Syndrome, generally known as PMS are symptoms that occur a few days before a woman gets her monthly period. It is very common to have PMS and the symptoms can range from mild (affecting 75% of females) to severe (affecting ~5% of females). Severe PMS needs medical attention. Medical professionals call it premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD.
What symptoms do women usually feel?
Symptoms can be seen in the body as well as in the mood. Most commonly women feel bloated, tired, angry, short-tempered, worried, and may even have mood swings which means they may be happy in one moment and angry/sad at the other.
Some people may also feel like crying a lot, eating more, craving for things. They can also have breast pain and problem with sleep and concentration.
How is PMS diagnosed?
There is no blood test or any imaging to make a diagnosis. Medical professionals make a diagnosis based on your symptoms. They may even ask you to make a “symptom diary” where you track all your symptoms by date.
To make the diagnosis of PMS you should:
- have symptoms 1 to 2 weeks before your period starts
- have no symptoms during or after your period
- experience both physical and mental symptoms.
What to do once you know it is PMS?
Now that you know it’s PMS, follow these:
- First and foremost: Relax. It’s okay to have PMS! Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing and relaxation exercises. They help in reducing headaches, anxiety, and sleep problems.
- Stretching and Gentle Exercises: it is scientifically proven that exercise helps people feel less sad and worried while they have PMS.
- If you have bloating avoid salty food and have small frequent meals.
- If you have trouble sleeping, try putting a few drops of essential oil on your pillow for better sleep and relaxation.
- Many studies published in the Journals of Gynecology have shown a very strong relationship between Vitamin D/Calcium deficiency and the severity of PMS symptoms. This was especially true for symptoms like tiredness, anxiety, desire to be alone, and confusion. In case you are deficient, make sure to take these supplements and also eat foods rich in Calcium and Vitamin D, like dairy products.
- Vitamin B6 supplement may help some women with mild PMS (no more than 100 mg of vitamin B6 per day). Eat foods rich in B6 like whole grains, vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli), nuts (pistachio), fish, chicken, and banana.
- If you still have headaches despite relaxation techniques, you can take medications like Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, or Naproxen (make sure your doctor has not advised you to avoid these medications, ask your doctor before taking them).
- If symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe you medicines like SSRI which are used for treating anxiety and depression. Some doctors may also prescribe birth control pills. There are different types of birth control pills which your doctor will help you choose.
PMS is very common and now you know that it can be managed with only a few lifestyle changes. Try the above and if you still feel things are bothering you, go and seek medical advice.
Important footnote for partners and family members: She needs your care, your emotional and physical support. If she gets this from you, more than half of the battle is already won!
Disclaimer: Please consult your physician before starting any treatment.
Physician, traveler and a blogger.