11 March 2006

PMS Defined

What is PMS?

PMS is defined as a set of symptoms that can occur for anywhere up to 2 weeks before a women menstruates. Yes, two weeks of hell for some women. There are five sub-groups of PMS symptoms, as described below:

1. PMS-P (PMS Pain)
Symptoms - cramps, reduced pain threshold, aches and pains, light or noise intolerance, joint pain.

2. PMS-A (PMS Anxiety)
Symptoms - anxiety, mood swings, nervous tension, irritability, irrational thoughts, jealousy, low self-esteem, inability to cope, insecurity, agitation, crying spells

3. PMS-C (PMS Craving)
Symptoms - sweet cravings, food cravings, headache, dizziness or fainting, increased appetite, fatigue, heart pounding (exaggerated insulin response to carbohydrates), lethargy, excessive thirst, nausea, low blood sugar

4. PMS-D (PMS Depression)
Symptoms - depression, forgetfulness, crying, mental confusion, insomnia, anger, erratic behaviour, clumsiness, crying spells

5. PMS-H (PMS Hyper hydration)
Symptoms - water retention, breast tenderness and/or enlargement, weight gain (more than 1.4kg), swelling of extremities, abdominal bloating, skin problems,

In addition to all these lovely symptoms above, PMS can aggravate pre-existing health conditions, like candida, herpes, allergies and make them a lot harder to manage.

Not all women will experience all the symptoms above every month and even some women that do experience most the symptoms will not experience them exactly the same every month.

A very small percentage of women (between 2-9% of women who experience PMS) may have PMDD, where they experience symptoms so severe, they become destructive. PMDD symptoms have some similarity to moderate-major depression and occur in the two weeks before menstruation and subside when bleeding occurs. In addition to the emotional (or mental) symptoms, there are physical symptoms which also occur in the two weeks prior to menstruation and which subside as soon as menstruation starts (or soon after).

To be diagnosed with PMDD you must experience 5 or more of the following symptoms:

Psychological Symptoms
  • anxiety and tension
  • mood swings
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • changes in appetite
  • sleep difficulties
  • feeling overwhelmed and out of control
Physical Symptoms
  • Bloating and breast tenderness

When PMDD is being diagnosed, the focus is usually on the psychological, behavioural, and emotional symptoms than the physical ones. The thing that should be noted, is that in PMDD the symptoms experienced are much worse than in normal PMS.

Anyone that suspects they may have PMDD needs to contact a medical professional to get all the support, advice and treatment required to manage it. Women with PMDD should also realise that it can be alleviated through nutritional means in conjunction with conventional treatment.

1. "The Physicians Handbook of Clinical Nutrition" - Henry Osiecki

2. Vital Health Zone - www.vitalhealthzone.com
3. "You Can Beat PMS" - Colette Harris and Theresa Cheung

1 comment:

  1. Hey, thanks for this. Now I know why I feel so crap just before my periods every month! Sux to be a girl sometimes, hey?