Do Supplements Help Treat Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms?

A combination of symptoms that the majority of women face, starting about a week or two before their period, PMS (premenstrual syndrome) affects different women in different ways. It can be severe in some women, enough to make them miss work or school; whereas there are women who do not get bothered by it at all. While any menstruating woman could face PMS, it generally affects women in their 30s.

What is PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome starts after the onset of ovulation and before the menstrual period begins. A combination of emotional and physical symptoms, most researchers believe that this happens due to the levels of progesterone and estrogen fall sharply at the onset of ovulation. However, once the hormone levels start rising again, post the menstrual period, the symptoms disappear. Women who do not go through the menstrual cycle, either due to pregnancy or menopause, do not suffer PMS. They may experience PMS post-pregnancy although the symptoms may vary. Very severe PMS symptoms could indicate premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Who gets PMS and PMDD?

Nearly 75% of women state that they have suffered PMS symptoms at some point in their life. While PMS symptoms for most women are mild, about 5% of women of childbearing age suffer from PMDD. PMS is more likely to affect women who undergo high levels of stress, have a history of depression or postpartum depression, and have a family history of depression.

How Does PMS Change With Age?

The symptoms of PMS get more acute as the woman reaches her late 30s or 40s, is in perimenopause or approaching menopause. Women whose moods are sensitive to the changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle are more prone to facing acute symptoms. As the body transitions towards menopause, hormone levels rise and fall in an unpredictable manner, which could cause the mood changes to get worse. PMS stops once the woman reaches menopause and no longer menstruates.

PMS Symptoms

Different women face different types of symptoms during their PMS. These could be physical, emotional, or both. The symptoms may or may not change as the woman ages. Mental or emotional symptoms of PMS include exhaustion, irritability, hostile behavior, appetite changes, craving for a particular type of food sleep problems, anxiety, tension, difficulty in concentrating, memory lapses, depression, crying spells and mood swings. Physical symptoms include bowel problems in the form of constipation or diarrhea, swollen or tender breasts, cramping, bloating, headache, backache, general clumsiness, and decreased tolerance to light or noise. While these symptoms go away after the menstrual period, if they are severe or affect your daily life, it is better to consult the doctor.

What causes PMS?

Unfortunately, nobody knows what exactly causes PMS. Most researchers believe that hormone changes during the menstrual cycle could have a role in this.

How do you Diagnose PMS?

There are no physical or laboratory tests that can be used to positively diagnose PMS. The doctor will have you record your symptoms for at least two or three menstrual cycles to establish a premenstrual pattern to establish if you are suffering from PMS. In all probability, you may have PMS if the same symptoms occur in the five days leading to your periods for at least three cycles and end within four days of the onset of the periods.

How do you Diagnose PMDD?

Swollen breasts, headache, fatigue, backache, food cravings, bloating, diarrhea or constipation – the physical symptoms of PMDD are the same as PMS. It is the emotional symptoms that get much more severe in PMDD. Severe depression and feelings of hopelessness during PMDD often make women feel suicidal. It is for these reasons that PMDD is officially a psychiatric diagnosis. However, the good news is that PMDD can be treated.

Does PMS Affect Other Health Problems?

More than 50% of women who require relief from PMS have other health issues that worsen during that period. Most of these health problems share symptoms similar to PMS. The most common conditions that are similar to PMS symptoms are anxiety and depression disorders. Women suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) find that their symptoms get worse just before their periods.

According to research, women suffering from ME/CFS tend to suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding and also face an increased chance of early/premature menopause. Those suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) may find themselves cramping and bloating with increased flatulence more just before their periods. Women suffering from bladder pain syndrome are more likely to suffer painful cramps during PMS. Other health issues that could worsen during PMS include allergies, migraines, and asthma.

Supplements can Help treat PMS Symptoms

Research indicates that certain minerals and vitamins may help in providing relief from some of the PMS symptoms. Supplements work on bodily functions and include a range of vitamins and minerals essential to the body during this period. If the PMS is due to any mineral or vitamin deficiency, taking supplements rich in them would also help in resolving those deficiencies. You can read more at about different supplements, their composition, benefits, and role in helping you get through this troublesome period. According to studies, calcium can help reduce fatigue, depression and food cravings. Vitamin B6 helps in reducing irritability, moodiness, memory lapses, anxiety and bloating. Magnesium is known to help relieve migraines and Omega 3 and 6 can help reduce cramps.

Herbal Remedies to Help relieve PMS Symptoms

Some herbal supplements can help relieve PMS symptoms. These herbal remedies have been used for centuries and passed down from generation to generation. However, the FDA does not regulate herbal remedies and hence cannot be prescribed by the doctor. It is advisable to talk to your doctor before taking these, especially if you are on medications, as they may interfere with your other medicines causing undesirable side effects.

Given below are some of the herbal supplements that are taken by women to help relieve PMS symptoms.

Black cohosh – Used either fresh or as capsules, liquid extracts and pills, the roots and underground stems of black cohosh have been used to treat menopausal symptoms. They are also used to help relieve PMS symptoms.

Chasteberry – The dried berry is available as liquid extracts or pills and is taken to treat hormonal imbalances during periods. Known to help treat symptoms such as low mood, bloating and breast pain, Chasteberry should not be taken by those on hormonal birth control or hormone therapy for menopause.

Evening primrose oil – Traditionally the plant was used for treating bruises and hemorrhoids by Native Americans. Evening primrose oil is used by many as a home remedy for PMS, breast pain, menopause, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. However, it could cause mild side effects such as stomach upset or headaches in some people.

St. John’s Wort – A recognized herbal treatment for depression, St. John’s Wort can be useful for relieving PMS caused depression. However, if you are on any medication, including birth control pills, antidepressants, Digoxin, Cyclosporine, and HIV or cancer drugs, you should not take this herbal supplement.

Steps to Relieve PMS Symptoms

While medicines and supplements may be required by some, all women would benefit from following these steps to help relieve PMS symptoms and remain healthier overall.

– Regular exercise and physical activity can help provide relief from fatigue, concentration lapses, and depression.
– Eating a healthy and balanced diet and avoiding excess salt, sugar, and caffeine during the two weeks leading to the periods will help relieve many of the PMS symptoms.
– Ensure that you get at least eight hours of sleep at night. Lack of sleep can worsen PMS symptoms such as moodiness, anxiety, and depression.
– Try not to smoke as studies indicate that smokers experienced more severe PMS symptoms as compared to non-smokers.

Thanks to Imala Green

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