What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS, is a condition that has symptoms that affect many women just before their menstrual period. PMS can cause a variety of both physical and psychological (emotional) symptoms during the years in which women have menstrual periods.
For many women the symptoms are severe enough to effect their quality of life on a monthly basis!
What Causes PMS?
Even though the exact cause of PMS is unknown, it seems to be related to the fluctuating levels of hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal shifts occur to prepare the body to menstruate (have a period).
By definition, PMS occurs only during the phase between ovulation and the start of menstrual bleeding. (Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from an ovary during the menstrual cycle).
Traditionally, ovulation was thought to happen 14 days before the next menstrual period (or on day 15 of a 28-day cycle). However ovulation dates vary from woman to woman and from month to month. On top of this, women with irregular cycles have a wide range of possible ovulation days.
What Are the Symptoms of PMS?
There are many PMS symptoms. The number and severity of the symptoms varies from woman to woman and can vary from month to month.
Symptoms usually occur during the week just before menstrual bleeding and usually improve within a few days after the period starts.
Common PMS symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Joint & muscle pain
- Trouble concentrating
- Food cravings/overeating/binge eating
- Fatigue or low energy
- Problems sleeping
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Crying spells
- Anxiety or feelings of tension
- Mood swings
- Disinterest in daily activities or relationships
- Panic attacks
Up to 85% of menstruating women experience some of these symptoms related to their period and approximately 2%-10% of women experience severe symptoms.