Premenstrual Syndrome

There are a wide variety of symptoms and signs with premenstrual syndrome, often known as PMS. It is a condition that affects women’s physical health, behaviors, and emotions during certain days of their monthly cycles. Some of the signs include irritability, depression, food cravings, tender breasts, and mood swings. Many women, as many as three out of four, experience some of these symptoms from premenstrual syndrome.

The symptoms from this syndrome reoccur in a predictable pattern and can range from barely noticeable all the way to intense. These emotional and physical changes in your body do not have to control your life. Lifestyle adjustments and treatments are available to help you get through these difficult changes. Check with a Los Angeles OB-GYN clinic to help you find the relief you need to make your life more manageable.

What are the Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome?

Most women do not suffer from all the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome; however, many do have more than one at the same time. These are the emotional symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome:

  • Withdrawal from social events
  • Insomnia or trouble falling asleep
  • Anxiety or tension
  • Periods of uncontrolled crying
  • Depression
  • Uncontrollable anger, irritability and mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Libido changes

There are also physical symptoms associated with this syndrome:

  • No tolerance for alcohol
  • Flare-ups of acne
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating in the abdominal area
  • Fluid retention resulting in weight gain
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Tenderness in the breasts

These emotional and physical symptoms can be severe enough to affect a woman’s daily life for about four days and begin at the start of the menstrual cycle. For some, the pain associated with PMS is severe enough to cause them to miss school or work. Most women have at least one symptom of premenstrual syndrome every month, but not all suffer the same ones. These symptoms will change as you age, and it may be hard to tell the difference if it’s just symptoms of your cycle starting or it is really PMS.

How is Premenstrual Syndrome Diagnosed?

Check with a GYN in Los Angeles about your symptoms and explain when they happen and how they are affecting your daily life. There is not a specific test they can perform to diagnose PMS, but by talking about your symptoms and their severity, you and your GYN doctor can come up with some possible solutions or relief. The most common symptoms would be:

  • Occur five days before your monthly cycle begins and repeat for at least three cycles in a row
  • Symptoms end within four days after your monthly cycle begins
  • Affects your daily routines such as school or work or other regular daily activities

Let your GYN know which of the symptoms you are experiencing and how severe their levels are. Premenstrual Syndrome is a common condition affecting more than 90% of women still experiencing their monthly cycles. In order for your GYN to diagnose you, it must be impairing some aspect of your life.

What Causes Premenstrual Syndrome?

Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is not known, but some factors are expected to contribute to the syndrome:

  • Changes in the brain

Chemical changes in your brain are thought to play a significant role in mood swings. When your serotonin levels fluctuate, it is believed to affect PMS symptoms. Not enough serotonin in your brain can increase premenstrual depression, fatigue, sleep problems, and food cravings.

  • Depression

Some women with undiagnosed cases of depression have been known to experience severe premenstrual syndrome. Depression by itself does not cause all the symptoms.

  • Hormone fluctuations

Symptoms and signs of the premenstrual syndrome have been known to occur with a fluctuation of hormones. These symptoms disappear with menopause or pregnancy.

  • Other conditions that have been thought to contribute to PMS are:
    • Not getting enough sleep
    • Not getting enough exercise
    • Drinking excessive alcohol or overeating salty foods, red meats, or sugary foods
    • Being depressed
    • Smoking
    • Being under extreme stress

Some researchers believe PMS is related to changes in your sex hormone and serotonin levels when your monthly cycle starts each month. They feel levels of progesterone and estrogen increase during these times which causes an increase in your hormone levels. With an increase in your hormones, you will experience anxiety, mood swings, and irritability. Serotonin is what affects your moods. This chemical found in your gut and your brain control your thoughts, emotions, and moods.

Check with a GYN in Los Angeles to find out what may be contributing to your particular symptom of PMS as there have been no unique lab tests or findings that positively diagnose this syndrome.

Who is Most Likely to Suffer PMS?

When asked, three out of four women will tell you they experience some form of PMS at some point in their life. Five percent or less of women in their childbearing age suffer from a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Premenstrual syndrome is most likely to occur in women who have high levels of stress in their daily routine, have a history of family depression, or have a personal history of postpartum depression.

Women or girls who are going through a monthly cycle can get PMS, but its most common in women who:

  • Are in their early 40s or late 20s
  • Have gone through a pregnancy
  • Have a history of depression in their family
  • Have suffered from postpartum depression or bipolar disorder
  • Have a history of substance abuse
  • Have undergone a physical trauma
  • Experienced an emotional trauma
  • Have experienced domestic violence

Treating Premenstrual Syndrome

A lifestyle change has shown to be the best method of relieving PMS symptoms. This method will only make a difference for you if your symptoms are not too severe. For severe symptoms, check with a Los Angeles GYN physician to see if they feel one of these can work to reduce the severity of your premenstrual syndrome:

  • Hormonal contraceptives are a prescription medication that will stop your ovulation. When you don’t ovulate, you may find some relief from symptoms of PMS.
  • NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, when taken at the onset of your monthly cycle, can ease breast discomfort and cramping. These medications include Advil, Motrin, or ibuprofen and can be purchased over-the-counter. Some GYN physicians may be able to prescribe stronger doses which they can write a prescription for you to buy.
  • Antidepressants (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Sarafem, Paxil, Zoloft, or Pexeva have been known to help with mood swings. These SSRIs are often the first line of defense against severe PMDD or PMS and are typically taken daily. Check with your GYN as some women only need to use antidepressants the two weeks prior to their cycle beginning.
  • Diuretics are able to help your body shed excess fluid when exercise and limiting salt intake are not enough to reduce your swelling, bloating, and weight gain caused by PMS. Diuretics or water pills will help your body eliminate fluids through your kidneys. Aldactone is a diuretic that has shown success in helping to ease PMS symptoms.

Check with your GYN in Los Angles to see if these medications can help to ease your symptoms. You can also discuss whether or not modifying your diet, increasing exercise or any other lifestyle changes could help. When you are preparing to visit with a GYN, you can prepare some questions to help you understand this syndrome and to ensure you find the right relief:

  • Could the symptoms I’m experiencing be from a more serious medical condition?
  • Do PMS symptoms ever disappear?
  • What can I do to lessen the severity of my PMS symptoms?
  • Are there generic medications as an alternative to the ones you’ve prescribed?
  • Are there any PMS treatments that you can recommend?

These are some questions to cover during your appointment to help you better understand PMS and to make sure you leave with the best possible solutions for your pain.

Will Premenstrual Syndrome Affect Other Health Conditions?

Some health conditions are affected by your PMS symptoms as many of these share the same symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. The level of severity for these often gets worse in the days just before your monthly cycle begins. The conditions which share premenstrual syndrome symptoms include:

  • ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

ME/CFS is a disease that causes extreme pain, sleep abnormalities, fatigue, and other symptoms that increase with exertion. Women who suffer from this disease report their symptoms to get much worse just before their monthly cycle starts. Studies have also shown women are much more likely to have heavier menstrual bleeding along with premature or early menopause.

  • Anxiety and depression disorders

Depression and anxiety disorders are two of the most common conditions that overlap with premenstrual syndrome. Both of these disorders may cause symptoms to worsen in severity during and before your monthly cycle begins.

  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Irritable bowel syndrome causes gas, bloating, and cramping. These symptoms may get more severe just before your monthly cycle starts.

  • Bladder Pain Syndrome

Women who suffer from bladder pain syndrome have reported symptoms are much more painful during PMS.

  • Other Conditions

Other health problems that can increase in their level of severity during PMS are asthma, allergies, and migraine headaches.

Conditions Associated with Premenstrual Syndrome

  • Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea and PMS are both conditions which occur and affect a woman during her monthly cycle. The two conditions occur at different times during the cycle. PMS is onset by the fluctuation in your hormone levels anywhere from five to ten before the cycle begins. Dysmenorrhea is the intense pain and cramping you can experience before, during and after your cycle. This condition is the physical pain and cramping you experience brought on by the monthly cycle, while PMS is the physical and emotional factors you experience before your cycle.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder

The symptoms of PMS are similar to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This disorder is people who suffer appetite and mood changes associated with fewer hours of daylight. They will become irritable, tired, depressed, and crave carbohydrates. PMS sufferers experience many of these same symptoms. The one big difference between the two is those suffering from SAD tend to want to sleep more, while PMS disrupts sleep patterns. Another, of course, is that men can also suffer from SAD but obviously not PMS.

  • Major Depressive Disorder

Depression is a primary symptom associated with PMS. The difference between Major Depressive Disorder and PMS is the time of the symptoms. The symptoms of PMS dramatically decrease or disappear once the menstrual cycle is underway. Major Depressive Disorder lasts two weeks or longer and brings about feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and often creates an inability to perform daily tasks at work in within social events.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD is excessive and exaggerated anxiety where one worries about everyday events for no apparent reason. Those with this disorder tend always to expect disaster to occur and cannot stop worrying about money, work, school, health or family. Their worries are generally unrealistic. This disorder affects the way a person thinks and can often lead to physical symptoms. The physical symptoms are similar to those experienced with PMS; however, do not occur at the same time frames as those associated with premenstrual syndrome.

Will Premenstrual Syndrome Change as I get Older?

PMS symptoms may reach their worst levels when you are between thirty and forty years of age and are approaching menopause. When you are in your transition period of life called perimenopause, this may be the peak of your premenstrual syndrome symptoms. This peak in symptoms is especially true for women who experience moods sensitive to changing hormone levels. The reasoning behind this is due to your hormone levels leading up to menopause are continuously going up and down in unpredictable ways. Your body is slowly transitioning into menopause, and with that change, your PMS symptoms may spike. The good news; however, is that after menopause, when you are no longer going through monthly cycles, PMS stops.

Contact an OB-GYN Near Me

Call GYN LA at 310-375-8446 if you feel you are suffering from symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Don’t let this syndrome control your life; there are alternatives to discuss with one of our doctors to help you through this challenging time of the month.