Premenstrual syndrome is a combination of emotional, physical, psychological, and mood disturbances that occur after a woman's ovulation and typically ending with the onset of her menstrual flow. The most common mood-related symptoms are irritability, depression, crying, oversensitivity, and mood swings with alternating sadness and anger. The most common physical symptoms are fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness (mastalgia), acne, and appetite changes with food cravings.
A more severe form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, also known as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder occurs in a smaller number of women and leads to significant loss of function because of unusually severe symptoms.
About 80% of women experience some premenstrual symptoms. The incidence of true PMS has often been overestimated by including all women who experience any physical or emotional symptoms prior to menstruation. It is estimated that clinically significant PMS (which is moderate to severe in intensity and affects a woman's functioning) occurs in 20% to 30% of women. About 2% to 6% of women are believed to have the more severe variant.
What causes PMS
PMS remains an enigma because of the wide-ranging symptoms and the difficulty in making a firm diagnosis. Several theories have been advanced to explain the cause of PMS. None of these theories have been proven, and specific treatment for PMS still largely lacks a solid scientific basis. Most evidence suggests that PMS results from the alterations in or interactions between the levels of sex hormones and brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters.
PMS does not appear to be specifically associated with any personality factors or specific personality types. Likewise, a number of studies have shown that psychological stress is not related to the severity of PMS
Symptoms of PMS
A great variety of symptoms have been attributed to PMS. Women can have PMS of varying duration and severity from cycle to cycle. The most frequent mood-related symptoms of PMS include:
Anger and irritability,
Exaggerated mood swings.
The most frequent physical signs and symptoms of PMS include:
Bloating (due to fluid retention),
Sleep disturbances with sleeping too much or too little (insomnia),
Appetite changes with overeating or food cravings.
Diagnosis of PMS
The most helpful diagnostic tool is the menstrual diary, which documents physical and emotional symptoms over months. If the changes occur consistently around ovulation (midcycle, or days 7-10 into the menstrual cycle) and persist until the menstrual flow begins, then PMS is probably the accurate diagnosis. Keeping a menstrual diary not only helps the healthcare provider to make the diagnosis, but it also promotes a better understanding by the patient of her own body and moods. Once the diagnosis of PMS is made and understood, the patient can better cope with the symptoms.
The diagnosis of PMS can be difficult because many medical and psychological conditions can mimic or worsen symptoms of PMS. There are no blood or laboratory tests to determine if a woman has PMS.
Cyclic water retention (idiopathic edema),
Irritable bowel syndrome.
How is PMS distinguished from other conditions
The hallmark of the diagnosis of PMS is that symptom-free interval after the menstrual flow and prior to the next ovulation. If there is no such interval and the symptoms persist throughout the cycle, then PMS may not be the proper diagnosis. PMS can still be present and aggravate symptoms related to the other conditions, but it cannot be the sole cause of constant or non-cyclic symptoms. Blood or other tests may be ordered to help rule out other potential causes of symptoms.
Some women have very little trouble with their menstrual cycles, but others face a monthly ordeal. An array of stressful symptoms irritability, mood swings, headaches, bloating, water retention, soreness of the breasts may occur with premenstrual syndrome. Periods can be irregular and troubled, with cramping, menorrhagia (abnormally heavy flow), and various discomforts. Homeopathic remedies often bring relief and a constitutional remedy can help to bring balance to a person’s system on many levels. A woman with serious symptoms or extremely heavy bleeding should have an experienced physician’s care. Some of the commonly indicated remedies should be taken under strict medical supervision..
Bovista: Premenstrual problems with puffiness in the extremities, fluid retention, and a bloated feeling often indicate a need for this remedy. The woman may feel very awkward and clumsy, and may constantly be dropping things because of swollen-feeling hands. Diarrhea occurring around the time of the menstrual period strongly indicates this remedy.
Calcarea carbonica: PMS with fatigue, anxiety, and a feeling of being overwhelmed suggest a need for this remedy. The woman may have problems with water-retention and weight gain, tender breasts, digestive upsets, and headaches. Periods often come too early and last too long, sometimes with a flow of bright red blood. A general feeling of chilliness, with clammy hands and feet, and cravings for sweets and eggs are other indications for Calcarea.
Caulophyllum: This remedy is often helpful to women with a history of irregular periods, difficulty becoming pregnant, or slow childbirth due to weak muscle tone of the uterus. Symptoms include discomfort during periods and a heavy flow of blood or other discharge. Drawing pains may be felt in the pelvic region, thighs, and legs. Stiffness or arthritis, especially in the finger-joints, often is seen when this remedy is needed.
Chamomilla: A woman likely to respond to this remedy is angry, irritable, and hypersensitive to pain. Cramping may come on, or be intensified, because of emotional upset. Flow can be very heavy, and the blood may look dark or clotted. Problems are often worse at night. Heating pads or exposure to wind may aggravate the symptoms, and motion may help to reduce the tension and discomfort.