The symptoms that distinguish premenstrual syndrome can vary from woman to woman, but always occur in the same period: from a few hours up to 7-10 days before menstruation and then end at the beginning or shortly after the beginning of the same.
Some of the symptoms that may appear include:
- Altered mood, low mood ;
- Drowsiness ;
- tiredness :
- Insomnia ;
- Difficulty concentrating ;
- Fluid retention leading to the appearance of edema and transient increase in body weight ;
- Breast tenderness and mastodynia ;
- Pelvic tension;
In some cases, other rather non-specific symptoms may also appear, such as palpitations , nausea , headache , constipation , changes in appetite , dizziness and paresthesias in the extremities.
What Causes PMS?
Causes Of PMS
The exact causes that lead to the onset of PMS are not fully known, but it is believed that there are several factors that can contribute to the onset of the disorder. Among these we mention:
- Hormonal alterations (for example, alterations in the levels and balance between estrogen and progesterone , altered metabolism of the hormones just mentioned, hyperprolactinaemia , excessive levels of antidiuretic hormone and aldosterone , etc.);
- Genetic predisposition ;
- Possible serotonin deficiency ;
- Possible magnesium and calcium deficiency .
Although, as we have seen, the possible factors involved in the manifestation of premenstrual syndrome may be different, it has not been possible for everyone, up to now, to demonstrate the precise mechanism by which they give rise to the disorder.
Despite this, the link between PMS and hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle seems to be quite evident; in fact, in support of this there are some facts:
- PMS does not appear before the onset of puberty;
- Mid-cycle symptoms are closely tied to hormonal spikes;
- PMS disappears both during short anovulatory periods (without ovulation ), and during longer intervals of amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), and during pregnancy;
- PMS does not go away after hysterectomy ( removal of the uterus ) if the ovaries are preserved;
- Medical and surgical therapies that suppress ovarian function eliminate PMS.
Some studies agree that PMS can also be influenced by other factors such as diet and nutrition , lifestyle and stress . More specifically, these factors appear to influence both the type and severity of PMS symptoms.
Treatment Of Premenstrual Syndrome
The treatment of premenstrual syndrome can include different approaches, which vary both according to the intensity/severity of the symptoms manifested and according to their type.
As mentioned several times, in fact, the symptomatological picture of premenstrual syndrome can vary greatly from woman to woman.
When the symptoms of PMS are mild, the woman usually tends to be directed towards a non-pharmacological treatment that involves the adoption of behavioral strategies and small changes in one’s lifestyle, such as:
- Adoption of a healthy and balanced diet if this is not already;
- Reducing the consumption of coffee, as well as other caffeine- containing foods or drinks , in order to limit symptoms such as insomnia and irritability;
- Avoid, or in any case greatly reduce, the consumption of salt and foods containing large quantities of it in order to limit water retention and swelling that often occur in this period;
- Get regular exercise ;
- Try to reduce stress as much as possible, possibly also resorting to relaxation techniques , meditation or disciplines useful in this sense, such as yoga for example ;
- Ensure a good degree of rest and quality sleep (in this regard, it is useful to go to sleep and wake up more or less always at the same time).
As part of the non-pharmacological treatment of PMS, it can also be useful to keep a diary of symptoms and their severity, in order to help the woman understand when and how they tend to present themselves. All this can be useful for identifying the optimal moment to implement the preventive strategies necessary to limit the severity of PMS symptoms.
Finally, it should be noted that among the possible non-pharmacological treatments there is also cognitive-behavioral therapy .
When the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are particularly severe and have a significant impact on the quality of life of the woman, on the other hand, it is advisable to consult a doctor who, if deemed necessary, can also prescribe the administration of some medicines .
Any pharmacological treatment of premenstrual syndrome must be prescribed by the doctor and depends on the type and severity of the symptoms experienced by the patient. Therefore, there is no real specific therapy that is the same for everyone and it should be noted that the response to drug treatment can vary, even greatly, from woman to woman.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs – can be used to counteract the pains that can occur during PMS, such as headaches, back pain , etc.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (Ssris)
Serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs can be used in the treatment of the psychic symptoms typical of premenstrual syndrome. Naturally, their use should be made only if the doctor prescribes it as he deems it absolutely necessary and only if the PMS symptoms are so important as to have negative repercussions on the woman’s quality of life.
However, using SSRIs is not effective for all people.
In some women, the use of oral contraceptives seems useful in decreasing the symptoms of PMS. Even in this case, however, the effectiveness of a treatment of this type is not the same in all women. Furthermore, it is clear that this approach can only be useful for women who do not want to become pregnant.
Progestogens And Progesterone
Some women benefit from the use of progesterone and progestogens which can be delivered through different routes.
Bromocriptine can be used – of course always with medical advice and prescription – to help reduce PMS symptoms affecting the breasts . Opinions regarding the actual usefulness of this active principle , however, are conflicting.
Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonists
This type of drug can be used, although this occurs rarely, in combination with low doses of estrogen-progestogens in case of severe and refractory symptoms.
In some cases, diuretics can be used to counteract water retention.
Sometimes, against the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, the use of the integration of:
- Magnesium ;
- Vitamin B6 ;
- Vitamin E ;
In any case, before using food supplements , it is always advisable to consult your doctor in advance, even more so if you suffer from particular ailments or diseases or find yourself in situations that could represent a contraindication to the supplementation of the aforementioned nutrients .
Natural Remedies For PMS
Natural Remedies And Alternative Medicines Against PMs Symptoms
Even the vast world of natural remedies, as well as that of alternative medicines, offer various solutions to counteract the annoying symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Some of them will be listed below.
Chaste tree extracts are proposed as remedies to be used to combat various disorders of the female sphere, among which we also find premenstrual syndrome.
Borage oil is proposed as a possible remedy against premenstrual syndrome, to alleviate the symptoms that characterize it. On the market you can find several supplements that contain it.
Below will be a short list of homeopathic remedies that are often recommended in the presence of PMS.
- Pulsatilla : recommended remedy to improve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, it is also used as a remedy for insomnia, anxiety and period headaches .
- Nux vomica : recommended in case of irritability and bad mood.
- Natrum muriaticum : recommended remedy in case of premenstrual syndrome with irritability.
Other homeopathic remedies that can be recommended in the presence of PMS are Sepia and Lachesis .
The applications of the aforementioned remedies and alternative medicines for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome are neither approved nor supported by the appropriate experimental tests, or have not passed them. For this reason, they could be devoid of therapeutic efficacy or even be harmful to health.
Consult your doctor before taking any natural or alternative remedies for the treatment of PMS.