Premenstrual syndrome: what is it?

Premenstrual syndrome: what is it

PMS is the blizzard before the storm. The weeks leading up to menstruation in many cases bring with them a series of very annoying physical and psychological symptoms. It is known that 20% of women are severely limited by this disorder, for this reason an adequate diagnosis and a multidisciplinary approach are necessary to improve their lives.

Whenever we talk about premenstrual syndrome, it is common for attention to be paid to one aspect: the mood swings of the woman. Often we look superficially without focusing on the complex mechanisms that direct the menstrual cycle. Estrogen and progesterone levels change from week to week serotonin other hormones fall into action that promote water retention, abdominal pain, headaches, etc.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by a series of physical and psychological symptoms that appear in the luteal phase and that end when menstruation begins.

These relentless swings between neurotransmitters and hormones condemn every woman of childbearing age to suffer from various symptoms that can range from slight breast discomfort or some fatigue, to the extreme that forces them to be immobilized due to cramps, dizziness, nausea and that pain. with a capital 'd' for which ibuprofen is not enough.

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It should come as no surprise, therefore, that countries like Japan grant women three days of leave per period or PMS. This is the seirikyuuka, a paid leave that every worker can take if they need it. It is known that other countries, on the other hand, do not grant this right, but the evidence shows that both the actual cycle and the previous weeks bring with them some rather exhausting symptoms.

Girl with stomach ache

Premenstrual syndrome: what is it and what are the causes?

As already mentioned, not all women experience the premenstrual and menstrual phase with particular pain. However, it is known that over 80% of the female population experience some symptoms and 8% can suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder . This latter manifestation brings with it a series of physical and psychological characteristics so limiting that it becomes almost impossible to lead a normal life.

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Alterations of PMS relate to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. When the unfertilized egg begins to disintegrate to be subsequently expelled with menstruation, it begins to release progesterone and estrogen. This alteration in turn stimulates other hormones, such as aldosterone, a mineralocorticoid that promotes water retention, swelling, the feeling of heaviness, etc.

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To make matters worse, serotonin levels also plummet during this period prior to menstruation. Here then is the feeling of discouragement, fatigue , malaise or even anger, undoubtedly part of that emotional fabric so common in PMS.

The four characteristics of PMS

In general, PMS is said to be characterized by 4 alterations, 4 dimensions that incorporate specific symptoms that any woman can suffer to a greater or lesser degree. Let's see them in detail.

SPM-A (Premenstrual Syndrome with Anxiety)

Low levels of serotonin can cause a feeling of stress, anxiety, nervousness, bad mood , constant torment, excessive worry… It is a period that can last from 3 to 10 days in which the woman notices a tiring and annoying mental over-activation.

SPM-D (Premenstrual Syndrome with Physical Pain)

In this second symptomatology, all the physical characteristics that occur in the two weeks preceding menstruation are collected. Not all women suffer from the same ailments, but the most common are:

  • Headache .
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Cramps.
  • Pain in the lower back.
  • Breast swelling and sensitivity.
  • Articolar pains.
  • Episodes of diarrhea or constipation.

SPM-AN (Premenstrual Syndrome and Craving for Sweets or Other Cravings)

PMS often generates cravings for sweets, chocolate, and sugar-rich foods. This is due to hormones. An increase in estrogen and a decrease in serotonin correspond to a lower level of glucose. The brain, therefore, feels the need for sugar.

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SPM-T (Premenstrual Syndrome with Sadness or Depression)

Swings in estrogen and progesterone cause sleep disturbances, discomfort, fatigue, hot flashes and, even worse, a strong discomfort that is experienced almost like a real depression.

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How to reduce symptoms associated with PMS?

Most women resort to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen to reduce symptoms associated with menstruation and PMS. However, it's never too late to try other, much more effective approaches. Here they are:

  • Calcium and vitamin D greatly improve the symptoms of PMS (we can take vitamin supplements or increase the consumption of fish such as salmon, cereals, fruit juice, fortified milk, etc.).
  • Magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin B6 are also very effective, especially for reducing pain, swelling or water retention.
  • Natural plants like sage or roots like ginger are equally adequate.
  • It is important to reduce the consumption of foods rich in salt, refined flours, saturated fats, coffee or alcohol.
  • Moderate exercise is very useful.
  • The yoga and relaxation exercises give excellent results.
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Finally, it should be noted that if the symptoms are very painful to prevent the development of a normal life, it is advisable to consult a doctor. In these contexts, contraceptive pill or antidepressant treatments are the most common approaches.

However, let's not forget to apply the above advice. The multidisciplinary approach, in which natural and psychological go hand in hand with the pharmacological, will certainly offer us a very positive response in the face of this condition.

Women and the moon: a link to understand the female cycle

Women and the moon: a link to understand the female cycle

The woman's body and the female cycle are connected to the moon and the earth. In ancient times this link between woman and nature was well known.