Oh, It Is The Dreaded PMS Again!

Posted: June 18, 2018

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Do you dread the monthly mood swings and backaches that are a sign of PMS? Read this post to find answers to all your queries and also how to battle PMS.

“Got those moods a swinging, tears a slinging, nothing fits me, when it hits me, ranting, raving, misbehaving, PMS blues” – Dolly Parton

It is on Saturdays that I visit the beauty salon for self beautification. It is a fun hobby for me where I indulge in self pampering and land up giggling and chatting with the salon ladies. This Saturday was no different either except for the fact when the girls saw me they asked me in unison, “Why have you bloated? Looks like you have put on weight.” Seeing myself in the mirror I suddenly felt low. Then it struck me hard – Oh no my dates are approaching. It is my PMS.

That day I could not enjoy the salon session, I was in a rush and urged the girls to finish quickly. I returned home, locked the door and cried. I normally go for long walk in the nights. The quietude and the night life mesmerizes me but that day I stayed indoors and all the while my mind was on fire – I wept, I could not eat, I could not wear my brassiere as the nipples hurt and I had a nagging back ache. My periods were yet to arrive but the devil had hit me – Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

We all know what menstruation is, but I am going to highlight on PMS. It is a symptom a woman develops approximately two weeks prior to the time she gets her period. A woman when she reaches her reproductive stage undergoes mild, moderate to severe symptoms of PMS. A little girl might get mild symptoms but the intensity is higher as one ages. It has been noted 5 – 8% of women undergoes moderate to severe bodily discomfort. Termed earlier as premenstrual tension, the WHO International Classification of Diseases categorizes the same under “Disease of Genitourinary Tract”.  Though it generally doesn’t call for medical intervention and prescribing drugs but is considered a common phenomenon in females.

The symptoms vary from female to female but, the major ones which include:

 

  • Mood Swing – Anger, Depression, Anxiety, Irritation, Tension, Tearfulness and lot more
  • Bloating
  • Breast Tenderness
  • Back ache
  • Acne Spouts
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweet Craving
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscular pain
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Constipation or diarrhea

It had taken years of research for the scientists to figure out what leads to PMS. It has finally been concluded that the chemical and hormonal changes in a woman’s body are the major contributing factors. It has also been noticed that the attack of PMS is strong on a woman who has been a patient of depression or is suffering from anxiety bouts. The age limit varies between women in their late twenties to early forties. Less consumption of Vitamin and increased consumption of caffeine and alcohol also are some major contributors of PMS. Post partum depression also aggravates this syndrome. Here I must say I am a tea addict and I gulp cups of tea and also consume ice creams during this difficult phase of mine. I skip my lunch and indulge in ice creams. Though I know it is going to act against me still I cannot help it as I develop severe nausea and fatigue when I hit PMS.

While outlining the two main methods of treating PMS,  NCBI  reports that – one targets the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary axis, and the other targets brain serotonergic synapses. Fluctuations in gonadal hormone levels trigger the symptoms, and thus interventions that abolish ovarian cyclicity, including long-acting analogues of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) or oestradiol (administered as patches or implants) which effectively can reduce the symptoms, as can some oral contraceptives. The effectiveness of serotonin reuptake inhibitors, taken throughout the cycle or during luteal phases only, is also well established.

However, alternative treatments include consumption of folic acid, magnesium, vitamin B6, diuretics, black cohosh, chasteberry and some more but a word of caution- it needs to be taken under the supervision of a medico. One need not self medicate and make the symptoms from bad to worse. Also women who are already under drugs of depression and other psychiatric ailments should ensure that their current medication should not collide with medicines of PMS. One should understand that the medicines can provide temporary relief but they do not treat the symptoms. A woman is bound to get the symptoms again the following month.

As per the statistics of Medical News Today, 3 out of 4 women are affected by PMS, but the good news is that the symptoms vanish with pregnancy and menopause.

PMS normally hits a woman two weeks before her menses. The symptom worsens gradually as the date approaches and is at its peak 1 – 2 days before the period starts. The prodrome decreases as the bleeding starts but, as I said earlier the woman is bound to get the same set of symptoms or a little of variation of them, from one cycle to the next.

Coming on the psychiatric point on view and on woman’s mental health, NCBI further states that, “several patterns of true or apparent comorbidity can occur in a woman with premenstrual symptoms. First, she might have another psychiatric disorder at another point in her life (lifetime comorbidity). Second, she might have an ongoing psychiatric or general medical condition and concurrent premenstrual symptoms that are not part of the co-occurring disorder (concurrent comorbidity). Third, she might have an ongoing psychiatric or general medical condition that becomes worse premenstrually—usually defined as premenstrual exacerbation. Women with PMS, like those with panic disorder (but in contrast to those with other mood disorders), have an increased tendency to panic when exposed to panicogenic agents such as lactate and carbon dioxide, suggesting that panic disorder and PMS share certain pathophysiological mechanisms”.

While there are lots of medical articles on PMS, here I had explained the same in a nutshell. The facts, the causes, the symptoms, the treatment and also the effect on the mental behavior PMS can have on a woman.

I started the narration with my experience and I would like to conclude the same by talking about my personal experience. In my case, certain months I do not experience PMS at all yet there are other months just like today when it makes my life so difficult that I cease to function normally. We women are tough creatures and handling PMS is one such challenge which tests our strength. Be a strong woman to tolerate PMS and like me do not say “I got that again – Oh no it’s my PMS”.

Image via pixabay

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Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of

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