Premenstrual syndrome describes a wide range of symptoms experienced by women a few days to two weeks before menstruation. Up to 75% of women of childbearing age suffer from PMS, but only 20% to 40% experience problems as a result.
Although PMS symptoms can appear at any age between puberty and menopause, the late twenties and early thirties are when they tend to be most problematic.
Age and stress may worsen PMS symptoms, although the underlying causes are not fully understood. If at least one functioning ovary is still present, it may continue to affect women who have had a hysterectomy. Women prone to depression, panic disorder, other psychiatric problems, or long-term medical conditions may also be prone to PMS, although these conditions may equally affect people who do not have them. One factor in PMS may be hereditary.
Although up to 150 physical and behavioral symptoms have been linked, most women experience only a small subset of them. The most typical signs and symptoms are bloating, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, appetite changes, depression, exhaustion, breast tenderness and fluid retention.
Although many women with PMS also experience menstrual cramps, dysmenorrhea is not considered a symptom of PMS.
This syndrome appears to be caused by a sensitivity to the peaks and valleys of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can alter serotonin, a neurotransmitter that significantly influences mood. Researchers speculate that certain women may be more sensitive than others to fluctuations in hormone levels, although it is unclear why some suffer and others do not.
Although the cause of the possible influence of calcium on PMS is unknown. In one study, women who took a calcium supplement of 600 mg twice a day had fewer PMS symptoms than those who took a placebo.
Making dietary and lifestyle modifications, such as consuming more calcium, complex carbohydrates (such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes) and water, and reducing caffeine, alcohol, salt and refined sugar, can help many women feel some relief from symptoms. In addition to getting a good night's sleep and regular exercise can also help alleviate symptoms. When symptoms are severe, you can take some medications with natural ingredients to help cope with the symptoms.