PMS Myths Debunked: What Every Woman Should Know

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is often surrounded by misconceptions that suggest all women experience the same symptoms every month. This is not true as the symptoms and their intensity vary from woman to woman, and even from period to period.

PMS can be different each month, especially with alternating periods due to the release of eggs from alternate ovaries.

Analyzing PMS Severity and Duration

Research indicates that only about 5% of women undergo severe PMS symptoms. The majority, around 85%, experience mild to moderate symptoms, while a small percentage doesn't experience any discomfort.

The onset of PMS symptoms generally occurs one to two weeks before menstruation, with most women reporting the appearance of symptoms around six days prior to their menstrual period.

Symptoms typically subside within three days of menstrual bleeding. Up to 150 physical and behavioral symptoms of PMS have been identified by experts, but the range experienced by most women is significantly fewer.

Here are some frequent PMS symptoms:

Physical Symptoms

  • Mild headaches and migraines
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Food cravings
  • Back and joint pain
  • Dizziness
  • Skin issues like acne and pimples
  • Heart palpitations
  • Abdominal bloating and weight gain
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Breast tenderness and swelling
  • Sleep disturbances, like insomnia and fatigue
  • Hot flushes
  • Tendency towards hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, resulting in craving sweet foods
  • Increased sensitivity to light, touch and sounds

Behavioral/Psychological Symptoms

  • Mood swings and depressive moods
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Difficulty focusing and reduced alertness
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Feeling upset and restless
  • Feeling awkward and clumsy

Who Are More Likely to Experience PMS?

  • Teenage girls and younger women
  • Women with depressive tendencies
  • Women leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Women under constant stress
  • Women with a high intake of sugar or caffeine
  • Excessive alcohol users
  • Women with a family history of PMS symptoms
  • Women with deficiencies in Vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium

Severe PMS symptoms that disrupt normal functioning may be classified as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

How is PMS diagnosed?

Before discussing your PMS symptoms with your doctor, it would be beneficial to prepare a list of both physical and behavioral symptoms that you experience each month, specifying the time of onset. This information can help in the diagnosis as some PMS symptoms can also be indicative of other medical conditions.

Managing PMS Symptoms

To manage your PMS symptoms naturally, the first step is to manage your stress levels. Following this, make healthier dietary choices.

Cut down on sugar and caffeine intake, and limit salt consumption. Incorporate fiber-rich foods like beans, nuts, vegetables, fruits and whole grains into your diet.

Two tablespoons of flax seeds can also help manage hormonal fluctuations during this period. You can add them to your smoothies or salads.

Most women may not get adequate nutrients from their modern diets. Hence, vitamin and mineral supplementation might be necessary. Consult your doctor to know the right amounts to take daily.

Exercise is crucial for managing PMS symptoms. Certain herbs, such as chaste berry fruit extract, dandelion root and wild yam, can also help reduce PMS symptoms.

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