Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is caused by the fluctuation of a woman’s hormones during her regular cycle, typically occurring every 28 to 33 days. The hormonal fluctuations can cause chemical changes in the brain, which may play a role in moods and could trigger PMS-like symptoms. Women with lower than average serotonin levels may experience premenstrual depression, food cravings, sleep problems, and fatigue. While the symptoms are often similar, each woman has her own unique experiences with PMS and symptoms can range from mild cramping or bloating to aggression or irritability.
Most PMS symptoms can be treated with over the counter medications and painkillers. However, when PMS affects a woman’s day to day life, a doctor may prescribe other medications like antidepressants or oral contraceptives to treat more severe symptoms. Regular exercise and good nutrition can help to improve and maintain your overall health which can make PMS symptoms more bearable. Some women benefit from keeping a diary of their symptoms and when they occur during the menstrual cycle. Finding any patterns or recurrent symptoms can help you to explain your symptoms to your doctor if you feel that professional treatment might be necessary.
Some women suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is a clinical diagnosis requiring professional treatment and medical attention. It can be difficult to diagnose PMDD because many women will chalk up their symptoms to “bad” PMS, or will avoid talking to their doctor about it because they fear they will not be taken seriously. The doctors at The Women’s Health Center, take women’s health including PMS symptoms very seriously, and patients should not be afraid to ask questions or raise concerns about their symptoms. PMDD is distinguished by the severity of the effect they have on a woman’s day to day life. Fortunately, there are treatments for PMDD. Doctors may prescribe oral contraceptives or antidepressants. Other treatments could include supplements, dietary changes, or cognitive behavioral therapy.
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