It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of women experience Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Despite its exceptionally common occurrence, most know very little about it. Women who already have PMS and those who are at risk of developing it can benefit from acquiring a better understanding of this common and often frustrating condition. Read on to learn about the basics of PMS, common signs and symptoms of PMS and potential treatment options.
Premenstrual syndrome is a common health condition most frequently experienced by women during their childbearing years. This cyclical disorder occurs monthly during the luteal phase of menstruation. During the luteal phase, most women experience a significant shift in hormone values. This is caused by a structure called the corpus luteum follicle. The follicle is produced during ovulation after an egg has been released. When the luteum follicle is active, it produces a significant amount of progesterone and estrogen. If the egg is not fertilized and conception does not occur, the follicle deteriorates, and hormone values slowly return to normal. However, in many cases, the increased hormone production causes significant hormone imbalance, specifically an excess of estrogen known as estrogen dominance. This subsequently cascades into an array of symptoms and bodily dysfunction.
PMS is often recognized and characterized by a clustering of symptoms prior to the onset of a period. Irritability, lethargy and depression are a triad of symptoms that are often present with this condition. Other symptoms may include, breast swelling, water retention, food cravings, severe constipation, hot flashes, migraines, back pain, fibrocystic breasts, weight gain and acne. PMS is an estrogen dominant condition and often associated with low thyroid. It can be associated with ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and fibrocystic breasts. Laboratory analysis and evaluation of your particular symptoms will determine our course of action.
The majority of women affected are in their childbearing years, with 20% to 30% of these women entering menopause. Symptoms appear just after ovulation and may last for two weeks, ending when menstruation occurs. The average length of PMS is approximately six days. Symptoms of PMS range from mild to severe. Severe symptoms may interfere with a person's ability to navigate daily activities.
Hormone imbalance is directly linked to PMS symptoms, as observed in a study performed of pregnant and menopausal women. Women experienced relief of PMS symptoms during these stages, lending to hormonal imbalance as the source of PMS. Thyroid dysfunction can also be a huge contributing factor in premenstrual symptoms and should be evaluated. More specifically, low thyroid can decrease your body temperature, creating symptoms that mimic the same symptoms found in PMS. Low serotonin levels or undiagnosed depression has also been known to influence PMS symptoms.
Experiencing many symptoms of PMS and at higher intensity may suggest a greater underlying problem known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Symptoms of PMDD are experienced during the same time frame as PMS but are broader and have a greater impact on the body. There are multiple factors that may cause increased symptom intensity and subsequent PMDD including: depression, exposure to environmental toxins, food allergies, hormone imbalance, stress, poor diet, and thyroid malfunction.
Fortunately, most of the contributors of PMS and PMDD may be improved or resolved entirely through proper treatment and self-improvement.