Menstruation is a recurring phase in every woman’s life that affects her emotionally, physically and psychologically. It is common to face unpleasant cramps and mood swings before your period that stop at the onset of menstrual flow. Knowing the symptoms, causes and home remedies for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can help you tide over your ‘time of the month’ better.
PMS varies in intensity from low to debilitating discomfort. It is also erratic – while you may experience only mild uneasiness during your period this month, your next period may be painful. As per reports, 20 -30% of women can also experience Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) or severe PMS.
Effects of PMS
Though a common condition, PMS can have distressing emotional and physical symptoms that can make you shrink within yourself:
- Appetite change and even aversion to food
- Feeling like crying aloud
- Sleep disorders
- Lack of concentration
- Increased tension and stress
- Anger and irritability
- Depressed mood and frequent mood changes
- Problems in digestion like diarrhoea and constipation
- Acne eruption
- Gain in weight due to fluid retention
- Fatigue and weakness
- Tender breasts
- Joint pain and muscle pain
- Bloated abdomen
- Extreme irritation, anxiety and feeling at a loss
- Feeling hopeless with poor self esteem
- Depression and anger at frequent intervals
While the above symptoms are common among women experiencing PMS, it is good to consult a doctor and get medical advice if they interfere too much with your daily life. Also, you must beware of the conditions below as these are found only in rare cases of PMS and could be dangerous:
Causes of PMS
The causes of PMS are still being researched upon although most experts agree on the following as potential agents.
1. Dietary Habits
You are more prone to PMS if your diet lacks nutrition, especially vitamins and minerals. Women who consume excessive salt are likely to face fluid accumulation during their premenstrual phase, leading to weight gain. Over-consumption of coffee, aerated drinks and alcohol can also bring about mood swings, irritability and low energy.
Some women may suffer from chronic depression which can aggravate during PMS.
3. Hormonal imbalance
The body goes through massive hormonal imbalances/changes prior to menstruation. This can bring about the painful cramps you associate with PMS.
4. Stressful situations
In modern life, stress is a constant companion. When stress becomes unmanageable, you are likely to face more severe PMS than usual.
5. Fluctuation in serotonin levels
A brain chemical called serotonin plays a major role in determining your emotional state. An imbalance in its level can cause depression, mood swings and irritability.
Home Remedies for PMS
If your PMS is too severe, your doctor is likely to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs without steroids, antidepressants and diuretics. However, in order to avoid the side effects caused by such drugs, the following home remedies could be a better option:
1. Lifestyle adjustments
Ensure to take sufficient sleep and rest to keep stress at bay. You could pursue relaxation practices like yoga and meditation, head massage therapy, or take up a hobby like reading and painting.
2. Chaste berry
Incorporate chaste berry into your diet through tea or tincture. It will help improve your body’s progesterone levels naturally.
3. Evening primrose oil
The gamma linolenic acid (GMA) in the oil helps women combat depression. This can be taken in the form of capsules.
4. Dang gui
A herbal tea or a tonic rich in dang gui, a Chinese herb, can help balance low levels of natural estrogen and control muscle spasms.
5. Hot water bottle or cold compress
Two extremes, yes, but both work wonders to relieve all the pains that PMS is putting you through.
Light stretching and aerobic exercises can help you feel better by alleviating your mood, and providing better sleep quality too!
7. Prevention is better than cure
Cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and salt during this time can make a big difference to the way you feel!
Depending on your doctor’s advice, you can try fish oil or Vitamin B1 supplements that can provide relief from PMS symptoms.
Following good dietary habits, exercising and relaxing are sure to help smooth your monthly menstruation cycle and make PMS easier to tackle. In extreme cases, it is good to seek the help of your doctor and get medical advice. When feeling low, remember that your PMS is sure to be gone in a few days’ time!