We now know that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is experienced by 60% of all women. What causes PMS has been difficult for researchers to pin down because each woman experiences symptoms differently.
When making the diagnosis, the most important tool you can use is a chart of the cyclic nature in which they occur. If nothing is done to interrupt PMS, it often gets worse over time. You may begin by having symptoms just a few days before your period that stop abruptly as soon as your period begins. Later, the symptoms gradually begin to appear one to two weeks before the sunset of menses. Over time, you may have only two or three days of the month that are symptom-free. Usually no discernable pattern of good days and bad days can be detected. You feel as if you have PMS all of the time.
There are general symptoms that have been determined that include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal cramping
- Accident proneness, coordination difficulties
- Acne, hives
- Aggression, rage
- Alcohol intolerance
- Anxiety, irritability, suicidal thoughts
- Back pain
- Breast swelling and pain
- Depression, withdrawal from others, emotional liability
- Exacerbation of preexisting conditions (lupus, arthritis, ulcers, herpes, etc.)
- Fatigue, lethargy
- Food binges, salt cravings, sweet cravings
- Headache, migraine
- Heart palpitations
- Joint swelling and pain
- Sex drive changes
- Sinus problems
- Sore throat
- Urinary difficulties
Do not confuse PMS with cramps occurring at the beginning of your period, which is a different condition.
Chart the Pattern
You do not have to suffer. By keeping a chart of your symptoms, you can often begin to see a pattern emerge and predict when the symptoms will start. Keeping a daily symptom journal can be a valuable tool when trying to conceal your premenstrual symptom triggers and the issues associated with them. Many events and other factors can contribute to or trigger your PMS by resulting in hormonal changes in the body, including:
- Onset of menses
- Discontinuing birth control pills
- Childbirth, or termination of pregnancy
- Toxemia during pregnancy
- Tubal ligation
- Unusual trauma
- Decreased light associated with autumn and winter
- Family history of alcoholism; Parent or grandparent who is an alcoholic
- High consumption of dairy products
- Excessive consumption of caffeine (soft drinks, coffee, chocolate)
- High blood levels of estrogen
- Low blood levels of progesterone, either due to lack of production or excessive breakdown
- Diet that leads to increased levels of the hormone prostaglandin F2
- Excess body weight which can increase you levels of estrogen
- Low levels of vitamins B, C and / or E
- Selenium deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency causing chocolate cravings
End the Suffering
Many of the factors in this list you can control. For years allopathic (traditional) medicine has given symptomatic treatments for PMS that do not work. Most doctors do not know the latest research on hormone balancing. Some never had any training in PMS. Treating a woman's bloating with diuretics, headaches with painkillers, and anxiety with Valium ignores the underlying imbalance that led to PMS. Many of the treatments prescribed often have side effects. Psychotherapy can provide insight about stress, but this bypasses the nutritional and biochemical aspects of this disorder.
Do not give up! There are answers that can help you heal your PMS:
- Adopt a diet of fresh, in-season, organic fruits and vegetables.
- Review your dietary needs eliminating caffeine, sugar, dairy and excess soy.
- Take good organic multivitamin mineral supplements.
- Reduce stress.
- Consider participating in a 12-step program if alcoholism runs in your family.
- Get at least 20 minute of aerobic exercise five times per week.
- Try reflexology.
- Get more natural or full-spectrum light.
- Test hormone levels and apply natural progesterone.
At Oasis Advanced Wellness hormonal levels can be tested with a simple and inexpensive saliva test performed in the privacy of your own home. With these results and your symptom journal, you can determine your need for natural hormone replacement therapy (HRT). One product that is safe and non-toxic is natural progesterone. It helps to balance the effects of estrogen, and has a calming effect on the nervous system. The use of natural progesterone in combination with lifestyle changes often improves PMS symptoms. By reviewing your symptoms, we can evaluate your diet and exercise program, create a program and then monitor your progress.
You can find out more about the solutions in my e-Book, Balancing Your Hormones Without Drugs … You Can Feel Good Again.