Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that affects more than 75% of women during their reproductive years. It is defined as an array of physical and emotional symptoms that develop after ovulation and before the onset of menstruation. Severity of symptoms can vary from being mild to debilitating. Up to 10% of women get a severe form called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) that can significantly interfere with a woman’s ability to function in everyday life.
Symptoms commonly start about five days prior to menstruation and disappear after a day or two of menstruating. Emotional symptoms may include mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, anger, avoidance of social situations, impairment of concentration and physical symptoms includes abdominal bloating, headaches, fatigue, breast tenderness, restless sleep and weight gain.
There is increasing evidence that links PMS symptoms with a decline in circulating progesterone. GABA is a major neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect throughout the nervous system. Progesterone has been shown to enhance GABA, resulting in a calming effect and improvement of anxiety. It is not ideal to treat PMS with anti-depressants or with oral contraceptive pills.
Healthy ways to improve PMS symptoms include:
- Getting enough sleep, at least eight hours if possible.
- Regular moderate exercise and drink about 1.5 litres of water per day.
- Exclude alcohol, caffeine and reduce sugar and carbohydrates from the diet.
- Increase food rich in good fats e.g. cold water fish, avocados, free range eggs, raw nuts and seeds.
- Manage stress with relaxation techniques.
- Get support and counselling if possible.
- Nutritional supplements including Evening Primrose Oil, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Calcium, Tryptophan for sleep and Vitamin E.
- Chromium to reduce sugar cravings.
- Vitex (Chasteberry) may help if used between days 17-28 of your cycle.
- Bioidentical Progesterone during the second part of your cycle.
For further advice and to arrange an appointment please call the Medical Clinic on 01243 771455.