Heard of this term? I’m sure you have! “PMSing” has become a common term for overreaction or anxiety in women.
But that’s not all it is. PMS can express itself through multiple physical, mental and emotional symptoms.
Many of us often experience a general feeling of unwellness and mood swings in the week or two before the period. The symptoms disappear once the period starts. We’re not alone. Three out every four women experience these changes in varying levels of severity, collectively known as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
For some women, these symptoms are severe enough to cause significant discomfort or impact daily life. However, regardless of the severity of symptoms, they generally start at the beginning of the luteal phase and disappear within four days after the start of the period.
Exactly what causes PMS is unknown. However, several factors are believed to contribute to the symptoms:
Monthly hormonal cycles: Progesterone is known to have a “calming effect” on the body, easing physical changes that occur due to the natural drop in estrogen levels in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. In women with PMS, progesterone may not have this calming effect, resulting in PMS symptoms.
Neuro-chemical changes: Changes in estrogen levels are normal throughout the menstrual cycle, with estrogen peaking in the first half of the cycle (follicular and ovulation phases) and dropping off in the second half of the cycle (luteal and menstrual phases). In women without PMS, this drop in estrogen does not affect serotonin levels, which stay steady. But in women with PMS, the drop in estrogen levels is accompanied by a drop in serotonin levels as well. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.
Other related conditions: Anaemia, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), endometriosis, hypothyroidism, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can all have symptoms similar to those caused by PMS.
One in every ten women have disabling symptoms: severe migraines, mood swings that can permanently affect relationships, depression and even eating disorders. This can be a severe form of PMS, known as Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder or PMDD. While PMDD is still cyclic and occurs in the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle, PME or Premenstrual Exacerbation occurs all month long.
Experts recommend understanding your bodily rhythms and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as key to managing PMS symptoms.
1. Tracking symptoms: Using an app specifically built for menstrual tracking, such as Femcy, can help you identify patterns in your symptoms. Knowing your unique patterns will help you manage your symptoms better and improve your overall quality of life.
2. Targeted nutrition and fitness regimens: An overall balanced diet rich in folic acid, magnesium and Vitamin B6 has been known to ease symptoms such as cramps and mood swings. Vitamin D and calcium help to minimize PMS symptoms as well. Drinking plenty of fluids as well as exercising can help with bloating and pain.
3. Sleep and relaxation techniques: Sleeping a minimum of eight hours a day as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, yoga and stress relief can help with calming the mood swings that are so popularly associated with PMS.
If all of this sounds complicated, that’s because it can be! Keeping track of your diet, exercise routines and knowing the best meals for each day of your cycle can be a difficult and confusing task. FemCy’s expert team makes this simple for you by jointly creating meal plans, workout regimens and mind-body guides that work for you, and tweaking them based on your symptom tracker inputs. If you have a question or concern, our experts are always just a chat or call away.
If your lifestyle changes have not significantly improved your quality of life, you may suffer from PMDD or PME. Please don’t hesitate to talk to a gynecologist about medication that can help you. Femcy offers on-demand, virtual consultations with gynecologists as well as mental health practitioners to give the help you need.