25 July 2010

Exercise helps to improve PMS-PMDD symptoms

A number of studies recommend exercise as a way to relieve PMS symptoms.

Exercise is a great way to not only increase aerobic conditioning of the body (especially the lungs) and improve muscle tone, it is also a beneficial technique to use to help alleviate PMS symptoms, prevent worsening of symptoms and reduce likelihood of severe symptoms in the future.

Studies evaluated whether strength training (or resistance training) vs aerobic training exercises for women with PMS and while both types of exercise are very beneficial and improve symptoms of PMS, it seems that aerobic exercise helps to improve symptoms a lot more than strength training alone.

One study also evaluated whether a high intensity training regime or lower intensity one was more beneficial for reducing PMS and managing mood and other symptoms of PMS. The study found that low impact training was better for managing the mood problems of PMS, whereas high intensity training made mood problems associated with PMS worse.

One study which reviewed previous studies on the efficacy of exercise on PMS symptoms found that while exercise did help to reduce PMS symptoms, more stringent and larger studies needed to be done in order to confirm the studies results. While this is a good idea, it does seem, from the studies conducted so far, that exercise, especially regular aerobic is necessary to ensure PMS symptoms are reduced.

  • Cockerill IM, Nevill AM, Byrne NC. Mood, mileage and the menstrual cycle. Br J Sports Med. 1992 Sep;26(3):145-50. Accessed 26 July 2010
  • Daley A. Exercise and premenstrual symptomatology: a comprehensive review. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Jun;18(6):895-9
  • Daley A. The role of exercise in the treatment of menstrual disorders: the evidence. Br J Gen Pract. 2009 Apr;59(561):241-2. Accessed 26 July 2010
  • Dickerson LM, Mazyck PJ, Hunter MH. Premenstrual syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Apr 15;67(8):1743-52. Accessed 26 July 2010
  • Steege JF, Blumenthal JA. The effects of aerobic exercise on premenstrual symptoms in middle-aged women: A preliminary study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 37, Issue 2, February 1993, Pages 127-133

Have some mild PMS symptoms at the moment

I am at day 26 of my cycle.

This means PMS is back!

This month, it is again, not too severe. The only aspect which is more pronounced is the fluid retention and weight gain, especially in my stomach and breasts (as usual). But at least I don't have major pain.

The other major symptoms I have had this month are: food cravings for sweet foods (especially my favourite chocolate) and some emotional lows.

I haven't done much about the food cravings (I give into them), but I have been able to prevent my emotions from escalating, by telling myself, "It's only PMS and not a real emotion" a few times, after which my mental status comes back to normal. It just takes a few seconds of repeating this to myself to stop the false mood swing to negativity. Thank goodness!

I have found that the more I exercise, the more fluid I pass through my urine and the better my fluid retention symptoms get. Exercise increases circulation and also helps the lymphatic system remove any excess fluids.

I'll keep doing the exercises every day (about 35-45 minutes) and that should help a lot.

20 July 2010

Acupressure is useful for period pain

Wind Pool (Feng Chi) acupressure point
There are a number of acupressure points which may be useful in helping to relieve menstrual pain and cramps.

The main pressure point is the one on the spleen, SP6, which helps to dramatically reduce acute period pain and cramping very quickly.

There are additional acupressure points, which also help reduce pain and cramping.
  • The Sea of Energy (Qi Hai) - this is located two finger widths below the belly button. Also called Conception Vessel (CV) 6. The CV-6 point is also used to treat digestion problems, edema, and bloating.
  • The Inner Pass (Nei Guan) - this is located approximately 5 cm (or 2 inches) from the wrist on the inner arm. Also known as Pericardium (PC) 6. This point has also been demonstrated, in clinical studies, to relieve vomiting and abdominal problems during pregnancy.
  • The Union Valley (He Gu) - this is located in the webbing between the thumb and the forefinger. Also known as Large Intestine (LI) 4. This point is believed to aid in any problem involving chronic pain.
  • The Wind Pool (Feng Chi) - this is located at the rear of the skull about two to three inches from the ear. Also called Gall Bladder (GB) 20. The GB-20 point is often prescribed for headache and hypertension.
  • The Leg Three Li (Zu San Li) - this is located about one finger width from the juncture of the tibia on the outside of the leg. Also known as Stomach (ST) 36. The ST-36 point is also used to relieve any other issue involving the stomach or spleen.
  • The Middle Gate (Mu Guan) - this is located about one finger width from the wrist crease on the palm. This is an extra point discovered by Master Tong, although it is on the Pericardium (PC) pathway. Mu Guan is also used for heel pain.
When doing any acupressure, use gentle pressure in a circle-like motion on the point, never press too hard and if there is any pain, stop and consult your doctor.

  1. AltMD: Smart Alternatives. Acupressure for Menstrual Cramps. Accessed 20 July 2010. www.altmd.com/Articles/Acupressure-for-Menstrual-Cramps
  2. Lark SM. Acupressure for Menstrual Cramps. Excerpted from The Menopause Self Help Book, Celestial Arts, 1996. Accessed 20 July 2010 www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=1371

Acupressure helps to relieve period pain

Photo: Ageless Herbs
Many women suffer from menstrual pain and need a more effective way to manage the pain than painkillers, which have their own set of side effects and other issue.

The best way to manage period pain is to use acupressure points on the body.

Acupressure is an ancient Oriental healing method which uses gentle to firm pressure on certain parts of the body to prevent and treat illness, including pain. Acupressure has been used for centuries in the East.

The acupressure point for relieving period pain, pictured above, is located on the inner side of the leg (either leg), about 5cm (or 2 inches) above the inner ankle. You can tell you have found the right point, as it will be a little more painful or tender than the surrounding area. Only use gentle pressure to gentle massage it in small, circular motion.

This acupressure point is known as the spleen 6 and is located on the spleen meridian,which influences the digestive system, so it means it is also useful for other hormonal disorders, like irregular menstruation, as well as immune system issues.

  1. Lark SM. Acupressure for Menstrual Cramps. Excerpted from The Menopause Self Help Book, Celestial Arts, 1996. Accessed 20 July 2010 www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=1371
  2. Los Angeles Chinese Learning Centre. A Few Commonly Used Acupuncture Points. Accessed 20 July 2010. chinese-school.netfirms.com/acupuncture-points.html

Painkillers are not the best way to relieve menstrual pain

Period pain, like PMS is the bane of many women's existence.

Some women experience such severe pain, that it is unbearable without some type of medical pain relief.

Period pain can be so severe that it requires the use of very strong analgesics (pain medications), even really strong opioid-type drugs (narcotics), such as pethidine to ameliorate the pain for some women.

Taking strong painkillers on a regular basis, is not advised by any medical professional, nevertheless any alternative health care provider, because they do have side effects and the more you use, the more regularly you use them, the higher the risks of side effects rises.

In addition to this, the opioid-type painkillers are addictive, which causes another set of problems in itself. It's much better to try natural ways to relieve pain.

Natural pain relief does not have the same set of risks associated with painkillers and it can help to prevent the pain becoming worse over time.

19 July 2010

Some women can tell when they ovulate

Many women can tell when they are ovulating, as they experience a number of symptoms at the time of ovulation.

Ovulation is defined as the time in the menstrual cycle when an egg is released from one of the ovaries, down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus, ready to be fertilised and implanted.

Ovulation happens every month for most women, except during pregnancy and during most of breastfeed (although some women have become pregnant as they continue to ovulate during breastfeeding, it is the exception rather than the norm).

Ovulation is also the time after which PMS symptoms and PMDD symptoms start in a great number of menstruating women.

The main symptoms that women can feel during ovulation are:
  • Higher body temperature - the basal body temperature increases slightly during ovulation and some experts recommend you take your temperature before you get out of bed to determine if you are ovulating
  • Pain - it can be general in the pelvic area, or localised to either one ovary and occur near the pelvic bone
  • Vaginal discharge - the vagina will secrete more and thicker mucous during ovulation
So if you're feeling that twinge of pain in the lower abdomen and have thicker vaginal discharge, you know it's most likely because one of your ovaries is releasing an egg in preparation for pregnancy. If the pain is not consistent with this, get it checked out.

Regarding ovulation, there are kits available which can test you to determine if you are ovulating. These tests are specifically aimed at women who want to know when they are ovulating in order to have sex with their partner and have a higher chance of getting pregnant. This is because the highest chance of pregnant occurs during ovulation.

09 July 2010

PMS is a real and severe health issue for many women

Women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), from mild to very severe (and severe PMS is described as having premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD) have a number of symptoms which compromise and adversely affect their quality of life and the level this is affected depends on the level of symptoms experiences - the worse the symptoms, the more adversely the quality of life is affected.

Scientists have been looking at women with PMS and have come to the conclusion that women who experience PMS symptoms experience lowered quality of life as they cannot function properly (whether it is in their relationships, work, social life) and this causes increased medical costs through more visits to doctors and subsequent lab test. It also causes indirect costs to employers through lowered productivity when a woman experiences severe PMS symptoms and cannot function or think as effectively as she normally does when not in PMS.

Women with severe PMS symptoms, especially the mental symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger can be so impaired in their ability to function normally (when not in the time of PMS), that it can cause an impairment in interpersonal or workplace functioning.

Interpersonal conflicts are common for women with PMS and that can cause a great deal of unnecessary stress in a workplace or for a woman's interpersonal relationships, which if not treated effectively and continues to escalate unabated, can mean those relationships cease to exist and employment may go on to be terminated. This of course, compounds the issue and it becomes a vicious circle.

Women with PMS must seek effective treatment for the symptoms of PMS in order to maintain a better quality of life and in order not to suffer the symptoms of this, often, debilitating condition.

Your doctor can use a Premenstrual Symptoms Screening Tool (PSST) to help you determine how PMS symptoms are affecting your life.

There are adequate (and natural) ways to control PMS (and even the condition known as PMDD).

  1.  Choi D, Lee DY, Lehert P, Lee IS, Kim SH, Dennerstein L. The impact of premenstrual symptoms on activities of daily life in Korean women. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2010 Mar;31(1):10-5
  2.  Freeman EWSondheimer SJ. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Recognition and Treatment. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2003; 5(1): 30–39. Accessed 8 July 2010
  3. Mishell DR Jr. Premenstrual disorders: epidemiology and disease burden. Am J Manag Care. 2005 Dec;11(16 Suppl):S473-9. Accessed 8 July 2010
  4. Pearlstein T, Steiner M. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: burden of illness and treatment update. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2008 Jul;33(4):291-301. Accessed 8 July 2010

Antidepressants and oral contraceptives - dont work for PMDD

A recent study2 which reviewed data from studies dating from 1990 to 2008 to research those randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of anti-depressant and combined oral contraceptives (COCs) to determine how much of an effect they had on women with symptoms of PMS and  symptoms of PMDD.

After reviewing the data, measurements and outcome of all of the large-scale studies, the authors of the review2 noted that once the placebo effect was discounted, the actual results showed that the percentage of women who had a beneficial outcome from using SSRIs or COCs was not much more than the women who did not have any benefit from using these medications. In other words, women who used SSRIs or contracetives had the same level of PMS/PMDD symptoms as women who did not use the medications.

The authors of the review2 also noted that around 40% of women with PMS/PMDD symptoms did not have a positive outcome from using the SSRIs medications - their symptoms did not improve. They also stated that treatment with COCs also does not substantially improve the symptoms in women with PMS/PMDD.

The authors of the review2 suggested that "additional alternative targeted treatment modalities need to be developed" for more adequate treatment of PMS/PMDD than is currently available.

Other studies recently suggest that anti-depressants don't help people with mild to moderate depression and as depression can be one of the symptoms of severe PMS/PMDD, that suggests again, quite clearly, that anti-depressants are not going to help women with severe PMS/PMDD symptoms either.

A recent review1,3 of a number of randomised studies of people using anti-depressants for depression found that there was little evidence that anti-depressants have an effect that is any different to a placebo for people with mild to moderate depression.  In other words, using anti-depressants and using placebos (no drug) have the same effect.

  1. Fournier JC, DeRubeis RJ et al. Antidepressant Drug Effects and Depression Severity: A Patient-Level Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2010;303(1):47-53. Accessed 8 July 2010
  2. Halbreich U. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and initial oral contraceptives for the treatment of PMDD: effective but not enough. CNS Spectr. 2008 Jul;13(7):566-72. Accessed 8 July 2010 
  3. Silverman E. Antidepressants Don’t Help Mild Depression: Study. Pharmalot online. 5 January 2010. Accessed 8 July 2010