Frequently Asked Questions About PMS

Group of Women Smiling — Monticello, MN — Stellis Health

Every healthy woman of childbearing age usually contends with the monthly annoyances of the human menstrual cycle. However, up to 40 percent of menstruating women experience an even more uncomfortable problem known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

If you deal with especially disruptive, debilitating physical and emotional issues in the days preceding your period, you may want to educate yourself on PMS, from its common symptoms and degrees of severity to helpful remedies that can soothe your discomfort. Check out these frequently asked PMS questions.

Why Do Women Suffer From PMS?

Doctors can’t explain exactly why some women suffer from PMS and others don’t. However, they believe that unusually extreme changes in the levels of hormones such as serotonin, estrogen, and progesterone can produce the disorder, just as they play a role in governing menstruation and other reproductive functions.

Certain factors can raise a woman’s risk of experiencing PMS. Examples include a history of mood disorders such as depression (including postpartum depression), anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Substance abuse and physical or emotional trauma may also boost PMS risk.

What Symptoms Can PMS Cause?

PMS symptoms usually appear about seven to 10 days before menstruation starts, lingering up through a few days of the cycle. The physical symptoms may include abdominal bloating or pain, breast tenderness, unusual food cravings, headaches, light or sound sensitivity, acne, sleep problems, and fatigue.

Emotional symptoms often accompany the physical symptoms of PMS. If you have PMS, you may feel especially irritable, sad, anxious, or depressed. These moods can shift suddenly and unpredictably, often resulting in dramatic displays of emotion that surprise you as much as they do the people around you.

When Does PMS Call for Medical Attention?

Most PMS sufferers characterize their symptoms as mild to moderate. However, sometimes PMS advances to a more severe form known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This disabling problem can fill you with unmanageable despair, anxiety, anger, or moodiness.

If your emotional swings threaten to make everyday life difficult or impossible, consult a doctor for an evaluation and to discuss possible treatment approaches. The same symptoms in PMDD could stem from another condition such as thyroid disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or even pregnancy.

What Can You Do to Reduce PMS Issues?

Unfortunately, medical science has yet to find a way to prevent PMS. You can still ease your symptoms, however, by drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, exercising and sleeping regularly, and managing stress.

Certain nutritional supplements may help you cope with PMS more easily. Studies have indicated that women may experience some relief from supplemental calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D, essential fatty acids, ginkgo biloba, and, for mood-related symptoms, St. John’s Wort. Ask your doctor before trying these options.

If you suffer from PMDD, you may need pharmaceutical remedies as well as natural ones to cope with the extreme emotional ups and downs you undergo. For instance, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant medication such as fluoxetine, sertraline, or other medications in a class of medications known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors to help stabilize your mood.

Both ordinary PMS and PMDD can respond well to lifestyle changes that reduce emotional and physical stress factors. Your doctor may recommend, for example, that you quit smoking, give up caffeine, alter your eating habits, or reduce your alcohol consumption.

Stellis Health can serve as your whole family’s source for a wide range of health and wellness care, including diagnosing and treating women’s reproductive issues such as PMS. If your symptoms have gotten out of hand, contact our clinic today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you!