On 28th of May, we celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day in order to raise awareness about menstruation and the importance of good menstrual hygiene management.
In honor of this special day, we dedicate the whole month of May to this important topic, one that occurs naturally in half of the global population.
Last week, we talked about the menstrual cycle, a complex and recurrent process that allows women to conceive (become pregnant).
Today we are going to talk about those feelings and symptoms that we get a few days before our menstruation. You know, when you suddenly feel like crying and eat a whole bucket of ice cream while watching Grey's Anatomy. We know that Grey’s Anatomy is always emotional but in some cases you may feel sensitive because of your PMS. What’s that? Let’s find out!
PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome is a recurrent affective, physical and behavioral group of symptoms that develop during the luteal phase (one week before menstruation)
of the menstrual cycle and disappear within the first days of menstruation. PMS is a common health problem in women in reproductive age that affects quality of life, economic and social performance.
Up to 80% of reproductive-age females present at least on of PMS symptoms, but approx. 40% of them require treatment
The symptoms can be from mild to severe, affecting everyday life
The cause of this syndrome is not entirely known, but it is believed that the development of these symptoms is connected to changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle and that women who suffer from PMS are more sensitive to the changes in hormone levels
Women who experience symptoms of PMS are more prone to experience menopausal symptoms when they reach menopause
They can last from a few days to two weeks
Symptoms usually get worse 1 week before menstruation and reach their peak 2 days before menstruation begins and disappear before ovulation
PMS is represented by physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms
Breast fullness and/or tenderness
Swelling of the extremities
Body and muscle pain
Psychological and behavioral symptoms
Nervousness and angry outbursts
Changes in appetite (food cravings or overeating)
Changes in libido
Difficulty in falling or being asleep
PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric syndrome)
It represents a severe form of premenstrual syndrome that, categorized as a disabling condition, affects personal relationships and occupational activities
The symptoms are similar to the ones of PMS, but the severity of these symptoms greatly affect the quality of life and last for a longer period of time (even two weeks); because of its severity it can be misdiagnosed as depression or other chronic conditions. In most cases of PMDD a treatment is essential to alleviate the symptoms and go on with daily activities while with a mild PMS no treatment is necessary.
Occurs in up to 8% of reproductive-age females
The symptoms are similar to the ones in PMS (mentioned above), with an intensification of following symptoms:
Severe depressed mood, self-deprecating thoughts
Severe anxiety and feelings of tension
Persistent anger or increased interpersonal conflicts
Feelings of sadness and increased sensitivity to rejection
Decreased interest in usual activities, such as work, school, friends and hobbies
Tiredness and lack of energy
Increased difficulty in concentrating
Difficulty in falling and being asleep
The symptoms greatly interfere with work, school, usual activities and relationships
The Daily Record of Severity of Problems (DRSP) represents a tool that can provide an accurate diagnosis of PMS; it consists in women keeping a diary of symptoms over a period of at least 2 months consecutively and scoring their severity of symptoms; the overall result is an indication/suggestion of what might it be and is advised to consult a doctor
Interested in keeping a PMS diary? Check this template!
As the cause of PMS is not fully elucidated, the treatment available aims to relieve the symptoms and is personalized based on every woman’s needs
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a technique that focuses on changing the mindset around disruptive thoughts, behaviors and emotions
The scope is to improve daily functions and activities
Adjustments of sleeping habits
Avoidance of stressful events
Studies show that an intake of vitamin B6 and calcium carbonate can reduce emotional and physical PMS symptoms
A dietary supplementation needs to be followed for a longer period of time in order to have a positive effect on PMS symptoms
Herbal medicine: the fruit extract of chasteberry is the only plant that is proven to control the mood swings associated with PMS
Combined oral contraceptives: proven to relieve the symptoms of PMDD by ensuring a balanced levels of hormones
Surgical removal of ovaries (oophorectomy) and uterus (hysterectomy) represents the last resort for women suffering from PMS or PMDD and the patient’s clinical condition, age, desire for fertility and quality of life need to be taken into account
PMS and PMDD can negatively affect relationships, work attendance, productivity and healthcare costs. Many girls and women all over the world have to go on with their daily lives while suffering from these syndromes. We wish them health and strength.
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